She snarled at them. She stopped assembling with them in the White House briefing room. She declined to say they weren’t the “enemy of the people.” And she lied to them.
Yet Sarah Sanders, according to HuffPost, is going to be sharing drinks with some of them on Monday at a happy hour in a Washington restaurant. The affair was organized by Anita Kumar of Politico and Francesca Chambers of DailyMail.com. Though both organizers are affiliated with the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) — Kumar as a board member and Chambers as treasurer — this glass-clinking outing is not a WHCA thing, according to Olivier Knox, the association’s president.
Will Knox be attending anyhow? “I hadn’t planned to,” he responded, citing a packed schedule.
Word of the get-together prompted impassioned tweets, such as these:
There’s a lot of logic to these condemnations, given Sanders’s despicable tenure at the White House.
Yet an important distinction should be taken into account. Journalists convey their sense of right and wrong in their work product, not in the appointments on their professional calendar. Sanders has a history of lying and poorly serving her country, but, well, journalists have a grand tradition of meeting up with liars — and slimeballs and felons and losers and scammers. That’s what they do.
Asked on Thursday night about the session, Kumar sent along this statement:
This is not an official WHCA event, rather a casual gathering for reporters who have engaged with Sarah Sanders, many of whom have done so for years. This type of gathering is quite common, regardless of administration—as many reporters know and have frequented. We have organized similar events for the White House press corps in the past. All attendees are responsible for paying their own bill, including Sarah Sanders.
The challenges between the administration and the White House press corps are well documented and, in some cases, ongoing. I generally believe that part of the remedy to those challenges is to engage in conversation rather than to avoid it.
The notification went out to the White House press office, the vice president’s press office and the press office of the first lady. So there’s a decent chance that White House officials other than Sanders will join the group.
That many folks see drinks with Sanders as a betrayal of decency drives at contemporary American political bitterness. Again — the Erik Wemple Blog gets it; she’s awful. But there’s another way to look at an outing at a bar with an outgoing member of the president’s inner circle and other White House officials: Another night on the beat. Work.