White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday hosted a briefing for children who spent time at the White House as part of the nationwide “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.” The festivities took place in the hallowed James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, that cramped space where Sanders’s predecessors held regular briefings for correspondents in the interest of informing the American public about the disposition of their tax dollars.
Sources indicate that the children of White House staffers as well as those of White House correspondents filled the seats in the briefing room, the better to pose questions to Sanders. One correspondent told the Erik Wemple Blog that the White House did a lot of work to welcome the children and provided them an excellent experience.
Among the important lessons gleaned by the junior correspondents was the centrality of nonaccountability mechanisms in the affairs of state. In announcing the meeting on the White House PA system, officials made clear that the “briefing” would be “off the record,” an admonition that was asserted repeatedly, according to a source in attendance. Meaning that the session couldn’t be broadcast or conveyed via audiotape, though photos were allowed, as reflected on Twitter:
Young attendees at the “briefing,” however, should know that the Erik Wemple Blog has agreed to no “off the record” stipulations. Based on reporting, we’ve learned that Sanders was asked about the president’s favorite colors — red, white and blue, came the answer — how many snipers were located on the White House roof — the Secret Service does great work, came the answer — and what to do about climate change — we want clean air and clean water without slowing down the economy, came the answer.
When the children head home tonight, perhaps they can pull up archival footage to see how their questions stack up against ye olde press briefings. Tuesday, after all, marked a record for number of days without a White House press briefing. Accordingly, Sanders was doing more than just providing a fun interlude for the kids; she was headlining a reenactment, anchoring a bona fide historical site.
As one correspondent put it: “The irony of it is that they’re pretending that the White House press briefing is a thing, and they’re pretending that this is how the White House operates, but this is not at all how the White House operates. . . . It’s a relic of an earlier time."
Also: Sanders told the children that she loves her job as a press secretary — a press secretary who doesn’t conduct press briefings.