It’s pie day at the White House.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders has produced some pecan-filled pastry shells for Thursday’s press corps potluck — but the story behind the treats isn’t so sweet. On Thanksgiving, Sanders tweeted, “I dont cook much these days, but managed this Chocolate Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving at the family farm!” accompanied by a photo of a pie that looked, well, perfect.
Too perfect, some said.
The pie’s white background led critics to call it a stock photo, though the crumbs in the upper-right quadrant and the shadow at its bottom undermined their accusations. And no one was able to track down the photo Sanders had supposedly stolen.
Still, the jokes rolled in (“I don’t have much time to fashion canoes out of fallen Kentucky oak, but I managed to put this baby together this morning”). And the #fakepie accusations followed. CNN White House reporter April Ryan’s response was especially strident: “Show it to us on a table.”
“Don’t worry,” Sanders replied. “Because I’m nice I’ll bake one for your next week #RealPie #FakeNews ;-)”
Whether this was a surprisingly gracious or unsurprisingly snarky response has been a subject of heated debate. Either way, Sanders followed through. She didn’t bake a pie the next week, but she did bake four on Wednesday night, and she documented the process for Ryan, with photos of her ingredients in the mixing bowl and the pies in the oven. Ryan says she won’t take a bite of Sanders’s creations, but she does seem satisfied.
“See that is what I am talking about. Wow! #piegate” Ryan tweeted.
Okay, so Sanders proved it. (Kind of — we never saw her make those impeccably crimped crusts.) But if the #fakepie fiasco walked oven mitt in mitt with this past year’s “fake news” dust-up, it’s worth pointing out: Just as Sanders has displayed her pie-making prowess, journalists have shown us they know what they’re doing, too, and it hasn’t stopped the White House from writing them off as liars.
The Post’s Roy Moore story, which Trump privately told confidants he didn’t buy before publicly endorsing the now-defeated Senate candidate? It explained how The Post had approached these women after hearing whispers, as well as how and why they’d chosen to speak after multiple interviews. That’s Sanders’s photo of the eggs, sugar and flour in the mixing bowl. “This account is based on interviews with more than 30 people who said they knew Moore between 1977 and 1982,” wrote Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites. Those are the pies in the oven.
And when James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas tried to “expose” reporters’ muckraking methods, the paper instead showed his followers just how closely they stick to the recipe for good journalism.
Journalists’ finished products have been top-shelf. Don’t forget the reports of Trump’s thorny phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, which Trump claimed “FAKE NEWS media lied about.” The corroborating transcripts were leaked months later. And, of course, there’s the Russia story, which Trump has crowned the king of fakeness — and about which each indictment by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, and most recently Michael Flynn’s guilty plea, shows is all too real.
Sarah Sanders baked one pie, and some people thought it was fake. Maybe they shouldn’t have. But now that she has shown herself baking four more, they believe her. Journalists have published thousands of stories that are truer than true, and Trump has tweeted about fake news more than 150 times, and counting.
So perhaps it’s not so surprising that, although April Ryan will have her pie, she refuses to eat it, too.