Not even a chocolate pecan pie could make things right.
Since last year, White house press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and April Ryan, a 21-year veteran White House reporter known for her pointed and relentless line of questioning, have been making headlines for testy exchanges about everything from the NFL anthem protests to North Korea. They tried to patch things up, whether it was Sanders offering Ryan a slice of pie she baked herself during last year’s press corps Christmas party or the two trying to go out to dinner earlier this year to “reset” their relationship. But nothing seemed to work.
Now, in a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Ryan indicated just how badly their relationship has spiraled. Amid what Ryan described as escalating attacks on the press from the Trump administration, Ryan placed the blame for threats she’s received, in part, on Sanders.
And Sanders should have to pay for it, Ryan said, by footing the bill for her bodyguard.
“I mean, I’ve had death threats,” said Ryan, a correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks who was named the journalist of the year by the National Association for Black Journalists in 2017. “I’ve had craziness, so I have a real concern . . . Do I have a bodyguard? Yes, I do. Am I paying for it? Yes, I am. And I think [Sanders] should have to pay for it, especially if she’s stirring it up with her boss . . . I did not sign up for this. I was just doing a job.”
The interview comes ahead of the publication of Ryan’s new book, “Under Fire: Reporting From the Front Lines of the Trump White House.” Like her book, the question-and-answer with THR centers on the Trump administration’s hostility toward the press and the impact it has had on Ryan’s day-to-day job, including the slew of threats she said she’s faced. The interview also details spats between Ryan and Sanders, as well as recently fired White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, a friend of Ryan’s until a dramatic disagreement last year.
Specifically, Ryan accused Manigault Newman of being vindictive — even toward Aretha Franklin on her deathbed. She claimed Manigault Newman chose to tease a possible tape of Trump saying the n-word just to distract from the sad news about Franklin’s illness, THR reported. Manigault Newman, who originally rose to stardom on Trump’s “The Apprentice,” has been aggressively promoting her new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.”
“She did it because Aretha Franklin didn’t want her at her birthday party,” said Ryan of the alleged tape teaser. “That’s how vindictive Omarosa is.”
Following Trump’s inauguration, Ryan’s profile soared as she frequently confronted Sanders and Trump with blunt questions that themselves have made the news. She has asked Sanders whether Trump “has thought about stepping down” and whether Trump believes “slavery was wrong.” The most notable example came in January, just after Trump’s comments deriding immigrants coming from “s‑‑‑hole countries.”
“Mr. President, are you a racist?” she yelled as Trump walked out of the Oval Office without acknowledging her. “Mr. President, will you respond to these serious questions about your statement, sir?”
Ryan told the Hollywood Reporter she believes her questions that day landed her on, what she called, the White House’s “blacklist,” reserved for reporters the Trump administration doesn’t like, such as CNN’s Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins.
“[Sanders] should be ashamed of herself going out there, saying some of the things that she’s said,” Ryan said. “She tries to insult my intelligence. And not just my intelligence, the world’s intelligence.” Despite Sanders’s pie (which Ryan did not eat) and their attempts to “reset,” Ryan said Sanders “continues to berate me,” and “it just went downhill.”
By contrast, her relationship with Manigault Newman appeared to spontaneously combust. In February 2017, the two former friends erupted at each other outside former press secretary Sean Spicer’s office over accusatory emails Manigault Newman sent to Ryan during the presidential campaign. As The Washington Post reported at the time, Manigault Newman had sent emails to Ryan questioning whether the journalist was being paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to “manipulate” reporters. (She wasn’t.)
During the confrontation, Ryan claimed Manigault Newman also told her she was among several African American reporters targeted in a White House “dossier” and became “physically intimidating.”
Referencing the episode, THR asked Ryan whether she was surprised about the attention Manigault Newman’s new book, “Unhinged,” has received.
“She’ll throw anybody under the bus to get a dollar and to have herself shine,” Ryan charged. “So, more power to her . . . People will be around for the spectacle, and she is providing a spectacle.”
Ryan’s own book, published by Rowman & Littlefield, is due out Sept. 1.
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