Sanders: ‘The Media Resorts to Personal Attacks Without Any Content Other Than to Incite Anger’

Melanie Arter | August 2, 2018 | 8:17pm EDT
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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Screenshot)

( - White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to questions at Thursday’s press briefing about whether the press is the enemy of the people by pointing out that the media has personally attacked her on a number of occasions, even saying she should be continually harassed and even choked.

Sanders was asked about comments that President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, made saying that the media are not the enemy of the people.


The press secretary pointed out that the majority of news coverage of the president is negative despite the good things the administration has done and noted that this week the media refused to cover remarks Trump made in Florida on workforce development.

“The president is rightfully frustrated. Ninety percent of the coverage on him is negative, despite the fact that the economy is booming, ISIS is on the run, and American leadership is being reasserted around the world,” Sanders said.

“Just this week, the media refused to cover his remarks in Florida, highlighting efforts on workforce development. In fact, the pooler for the press said that there was no news made, despite the fact that the governor of the state joined with dozens of businesses across the state of Florida to announce thousands of new jobs,” she said.

“That may not be news in Washington, D.C., but I can assure you that it's news in the state of Florida, that people that didn’t have a job before this president took office have better opportunity and the opportunity to have a job moving forward. That's actually real news and something that people in the state of Florida and across this country appreciate, and that was totally ignored,” Sanders added.

“Not only that -- before, a journalist on CNN claimed that the president hadn’t taken questions in over a week, despite the fact that same journalist did a live shot from the two-and-two press conference that the president had with the prime minister of Italy just moments after making that accusation,” she said.

“With this sort of misinformation and lack of interest that's so pervasive in the media, it's completely understandable for the president to be frustrated,” the press secretary said.

Sanders later took a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, who had complained the day before about being heckled by Trump supporters at a rally in Tampa Bay, Fla.


ACOSTA: “I just wanted to follow up on Sarah’s question from NPR. She asked you about Ivanka Trump’s statement that the press is not the enemy of the people, and she asked you whether or not the press is the enemy of the people,” Acosta said.


“You read off a laundry list of your concerns about the press and things that you feel like are misreported, but you did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people, and I think it would be a good thing if you were to say right here at this briefing that the press - the people who are gathered in this room right now, doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials like the ones you brought forward earlier - are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that,” he added.


SANDERS: I think the president has made his position known. I also think it’s ironic-- I’m trying to answer your question. I politely waited, and I even called on you despite the fact that you interrupted me while calling on your colleague. I said it’s ironic--


ACOSTA: Which is why I interrupted, but if you finish, if you would not mind letting me have a follow-up, that would be fine, but--


Sanders said she was personally attacked by members of the media, including people from Acosta’s network, and she pointed out that she’s the first press secretary, to her knowledge, in U.S. history to need the protection of Secret Service.


SANDERS: It’s ironic, Jim, that not only you and the media attack the president for his rhetoric when they frequently lower the level of conversation in this country. Repeatedly, repeatedly the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger. The media has attacked me personally on a number of occasions including your own network, said I should be harassed as a life sentence, that I should be choked. ICE officials are not welcome in their place of worship, and personal information is shared on the Internet. When I was hosted by the Correspondents' Association, of which almost all of you are members of, you brought a comedian up to attack my appearance and called me a traitor to my own gender.


ACOSTA: We didn’t try to do that, Sarah.


SANDERS: In fact, as I know -- as far as I know, I'm the first Press Secretary in the history of the United States that's required Secret Service protection.


“Tell that to the five dead people in Annapolis,” a reporter interjected.


ACOSTA: Brian, let her finish.


SANDERS: The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration, and certainly we have a role to play, but the media has a role to play for the discourse in this country, as well.


ACOSTA: And, Sarah, if you don’t mind -- hold on, if I may follow up. If I may follow up -- excuse me. You did not say, in the course of those remarks that you just made, that the press is not the enemy of the people. Are we to take it, from what you just said -- we all get put through the wringer, we all get put in the meat grinder in this town, and you're no exception. And I'm sorry that that happened to you. I wish that that had not happened.


But for the sake of this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you're saying, Sarah. And the White House, for the United States of America, the president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people. His own daughter acknowledges that, and all I'm asking you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.


SANDERS: I appreciate your passion. I share it. I've addressed this question. I've addressed my personal feelings. I'm here to speak on behalf of the president, and he's made his comments clear.


On July 1, Jennifer Rubin, an MSNBC contributor and Washington Post columnist on MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” said, that Sanders deserves a “life sentence” of being publicly harassed and that as press secretary “has no right to live a life of no fuss, no muss” because of her negative interactions with the press.

As previously reported, Rubin’s comments came on the heels of Sanders being thrown out of a restaurant in Virginia, because she worked for the Trump administration.

Similarly, in May, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace asked White House Correspondent Kristen Welker how she resists the temptation to “wring” Sanders’ neck.

“How do you resist the temptation to run up and wring her neck? Why can’t she just say, ‘If a staffer said that, we’re going to get to the bottom of it and she’ll be fired?'” Wallace asked at the time.

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