Herewith, another installment of a regular feature of the Erik Wemple Blog. Since March 11, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has disappeared from the lectern at the White House briefing room. Holding briefings are the central — and most visible — role of the press secretary. In light of Sanders’s lower profile these days, we decided to track her comings and goings with the “Sarah Sanders Watch.”
Item No. 1:
The original caption on the Reuters photograph at the top of this post read, “U.S. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a question from a reporter after she spoke to the news media after giving an interview to Fox News outside of the White House in Washington.” It captured something of a ritual for White House reporters these days: Ever since Sanders disappeared official White House briefings — the last one was held 91 days ago — she has found herself being tailed by correspondents after her regular appearances on Fox News.
The result? Sanders heats up her talking points with sympathetic Fox News interviewers, only to repeat them in gaggles with White House reporters.
Around 8:30 a.m. today, Sanders appeared on the friendly confines of “Fox & Friends” to warm up the talking points of the day. “The Democrats are doing absolutely nothing, while the Mexicans are stepping up, working with the president to try and stop the illegal flow of immigrants into the country,” said Sanders. She also bashed Democrats in Congress for “trotting out” Watergate figure John Dean in testimony on Monday regarding the Mueller report. “There was no collusion, there was no obstruction,” said Sanders.
No one on the “Fox & Friends” curvy couch paused to note that the no-obstruction contention is fraught, if not straight-up false. The Mueller report documented close to a dozen instances of possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, though it did not charge any crimes in deference to Justice Department policy toward sitting presidents.
Following that all-too-friendly discussion with “Fox & Friends,” Sanders “gaggled” with reporters. “She hit back at former Vice President Joe Biden in anticipation of a speech he is set to deliver in Iowa this afternoon and also talked about the president’s get-well call to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler last month,” noted Politico White House reporter Gabby Orr in a pool report.
In any case, “Sarah Sanders Watch” is hereby introducing its Sarah Sanders: Fox News v. Briefings chart. It monitors the number of Fox News appearances by Sanders v. the number of White House briefings she has held since March 11. Here goes:
Here’s the list of such appearances, updated from a previous post:
March 12 (“Outnumbered Overtime”), March 25 (“America’s Newsroom”), April 2 (“America’s Newsroom”), April 4 (“Fox & Friends”), April 14 (“Fox News Sunday”), April 18 (“Hannity”), April 22 (“Fox & Friends”), April 29 (“Fox & Friends”), May 2 (“America’s Newsroom”), May 4 (“Watters’ World”), May 16 (“Fox & Friends”), May 22 (“Fox & Friends”), May 29 (“Outnumbered Overtime”), May 31 (“America’s Newsroom”), June 11 (“Fox & Friends”). Sanders has also done interviews with other outlets, including CNN, CBS News, ABC News, NBC News and Sinclair.
Item No. 2:
In other consequential Sanders news: Alec Baldwin announced he was withdrawing from his role playing Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” The development prompted a tweet from Sanders’s father, Mike Huckabee:
Alec Baldwin announced that he's “so done” playing @realDonaldTrump on “Saturday Night Live”. Good news for viewers who are “so done” with “SNL” & unfunny vicious Trump bashing instead of comedy. For refreshing variety, try my show instead tonight! https://t.co/MTf4xbnNsG— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) June 8, 2019
Not one to let stray insults go uncontested, Baldwin replied:
Who knows what the future holds?— HABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) June 10, 2019
I tell what it should hold. That you, who have sucked a govt paycheck out of the economy while you were a dreadful Lt gov and then gov and that daughter of yours, a mouthpiece for fascism, that you go away.
Just...go away. https://t.co/ipnR7jeRkW
A couple of notes about that mouthpiece-for-fascism thing: One, as Sanders continues her briefing-less streak, she’s less and less a mouthpiece. Two, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright in her book “Fascism: A Warning” refrains from calling Trump a “fascist” because “he isn’t violent.” Instead, she goes with “the most undemocratic president” in modern U.S. history.
Of course, slamming Sanders as an “occasional spokeswoman for the most undemocratic president in recent history” doesn’t pack the same Twitter punch as Baldwin’s formulation.