White House press secretary Sarah Sanders in the briefing room, where, frankly, you ought to know better and show a little more respect. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Columnist

Dear press corps,

This hurts us more than it hurts you.

Frankly, it is shocking and appalling to us that you are a group full of such wild, ruthless maniacs as Jim Acosta, who cannot be restrained from further heinous and unthinkable acts except with these explicit guidelines, which it pains us, so, so deeply to inflict upon you.

Really, we would like nothing better than to sit here and answer, in painful — nay, excruciating — detail as many questions as you could possibly throw our way for hours and hours until we were spent, but you have forced our hand. We are so, so bitterly disappointed. In you. You should feel bad. The First Amendment weeps when it sees you, daring to invoke it to ask QUESTIONS of the PRESIDENT. Your president! Have you no decency?

We are stunned that the common, recognized decorum — that sacred tradition passed down from John Peter Zenger to Ida Wells, observed as long as press have been holding power to account(ish) — of never attempting to ask a follow-up question that bothered an administration official has not been observed. Well, it is time we codified that long unstated rule and its many siblings:

    1. This administration is very stressed. Please respect our privacy during this difficult time by maintaining a respectful silence until the briefing has concluded.
    2. You may ask as many questions as you like provided you are not physically in the White House briefing room where your questions can be heard.
    3. An example of a good question is “Why doesn’t the media ever talk about all the good things this administration is doing?” or (furious applause, building in a crescendo until the conference is over).
    4. If you are in the room, you may ask only one question, then must yield the floor. NO, YOU WERE NOT FAST ENOUGH IN YIELDING! BANNED!
    5. You are free to ask a follow-up question provided you whisper it quietly to your neighbor and do not expect it to be answered.
    6. It is the official position of the Trump White House that the truth is fundamentally unknowable and may change at any time, and we expect the press to respect that.
    7. Valid, completely satisfactory answers to questions include: “I have no information on that at this time,” “I will have to get back to you on that,” “The president does not feel that and is in fact insulted you would insinuate such a thing,” and “I am frankly offended you would ask such a question, and you ought to be ashamed, ashamed, sir, ashamed.” Also: pretending not to hear the question, or starting to tear up.
    8. You are free to ask as many questions as you wish if you work for a reputable and trustworthy publication such as Lifezette.
    9. If the president says something bad about a member of the media, that needs to be the only thing discussed on cable television for the next 24 hours, no matter what else is happening. We are aware that this sometimes happens, but there are times when this doesn’t happen because there is so-called news going on, and we need to nip that in the bud!
    10. Hard pass” describes how Sarah Sanders will respond to your question.
    11. Stupid questions include: any question about White House ethics violations; any question about White House personnel; any question about administration policies; any question about things the president or his administration is saying, thinking or doing; and any question posed by Abby Phillip, Yamiche Alcindor or April Ryan (no reason they’re being singled out in particular, of course).
    12. Your question must begin with the phrase “Isn’t it great that President Trump has …”
    13. If you do not like any of these rules, you are welcome to whisper your question into a stand of reeds, pose it to Hillary Clinton or take it to a country with a more welcoming attitude towards the press.

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