When Richard Latendresse was called on early in Sean Spicer’s White House briefing Thursday afternoon, he had a few serious questions.
“The U.S. ambassador at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says that Syria possess, uses chemical weapons, abetted by Russia’s continuing efforts to bury the truth,” began the White House reporter for TVA, a French-language Canadian network. “Was the President offered proof of such truth-burying efforts by Russia, evidence that this is happening?”
Then came another one.
“I would like to know also, you’ve been putting in the same sentence Syria, Iraq and North Korea as failed states, Russia’s being not a failed state but part of this,” Latendresse said to Spicer. “Has it become, to use an old expression, the Axis of Evil of this administration?”
And then one more.
“Very quick, last question,” Latendresse said. “With the National Hockey League playoffs just started, will the President cheer for the Rangers or the Caps?”
There was quiet laughter in the room.
“Respectfully, that’s really not been a subject that’s come up too often in the White House,” the press secretary said.
The question presumably referred only to New York and Washington since one city is Trump’s former home and one is his current home. There doesn’t, however, appear to be much uncertainty which team he supports. For evidence, here’s a tweet from Game 5 of the teams’ 2015 second-round matchup, the moment the series began to go south for the Caps.
.@nyrangers did a great job of winning tonight – played like champions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2015
Trump, as it turns out, was at that game in person.
Trump sitting next to McEnroe at the Rangers game. It would have been worth watching the Caps fail to close to sit behind them and listen.
— Jason Foster (@wyojimmy) May 9, 2015
Plus, there was this.
“It's a tough game, and you never want to take that aspect out of the game.” – @NYRangers Stanley Cup Champion Mark Messier
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2014
So I don’t think this is really a question.
While some criticized Latendresse for his brief detour into sports, let’s at least note the backstory: He and his wife are Montrealers who moved to D.C. for journalism purposes in 2006. They grew to love the city and both began the process of becoming American citizens; they also began following the Caps in addition to their beloved Canadiens. Caps anthem singer Bob McDonald even showed up at their house for a special performance of the national anthem after Tracey Madigan became an American citizen.
But still, critics were not happy with the timing.
To the reporter who just asked Spicer if Trump prefers Caps or Rangers: you do realize we just dropped a bomb right?
— Laura Mahler (@lauramahler) April 13, 2017
US just dropped largest non-nuke bomb for first time in combat and White House press corps is asking if Trump will root for Rangers or Caps.
— Jacqueline Klimas (@jacqklimas) April 13, 2017
US just dropped a 21k pound bomb on Afghanistan+a reporter at the WH press briefing just asked if Trump was rooting for the Rangers or Caps
— Cole Stangler (@ColeStangler) April 13, 2017