Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty wrote a piece for Tuesday’s paper headlined “The return of White House press briefings.” It’s not like the briefings disappeared in 2020. But then you see the online headline: “Get ready for reality-grounded White House press briefings.” She insisted Kayleigh McEnany “set a new standard in shamelessness” at the podium.
Speaking or reality, the “Fact Checker” staff at the Post will not be reviewing Tumulty’s inflated claims of restricted press access:
A succession of White House officials spewing falsehoods from the podium — as well as going months and, at one point, almost a year without giving reporters a briefing at all — became symptoms of the larger corruption of the truth that was the hallmark of Trump’s four years in office.
“At all?” Tumulty linked to a Poynter.org article that underlined she was at least “Two Pinocchios”-misleading: the Trump White House went more than 300 days without a “formal” briefing. This was the time when Stephanie Grisham held the job and never did a televised briefing, when Trump liked engaging with reporters outside on the lawn, where the press questions could barely be heard, denying them the chance for grandstanding (which Tumulty briefly acknowledged).
The news value here came in interviewing incoming Biden press secretary Jen Psaki, who’s apparently not going to last long: “Psaki, who told me that she expects to hold the press secretary’s post for no more than a year or so, comes to it with experience both broad and deep.” Tumulty mentions Psaki’s gig as spokesman at the State Department “broadened her appreciation of the value of free and regular give-and-take between the government and the media.”
Oh really? Tumulty never mentions that “reality-grounded” Team Obama intentionally deleted several minutes of video footage from a 2013 press briefing, where State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland (also set to join the Biden administration) seemed to acknowledge misleading Fox News reporter James Rosen (and the rest) over the Iran nuclear deal. While the networks tried to ignore it when it emerged in 2015, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer toughly questioned Psaki about the “flat out lie.”
This is how CNN’s Jake Tapper analyzed it:
“In this case, it was an acknowledgment from the Obama administration of having lied to reporters, a scrubbing of a public record and it should outrage every American,” Tapper declared.
In the Trump years, Psaki became a regular pundit on the Tapper show. (Tapper was a guest at Psaki’s wedding in 2010.)
Unlike NPR, Tumulty didn’t ask how Psaki would handle questions from the conservative media. But “diversity and inclusion” can be expected at the podium:
Psaki also plans to turn over the lectern frequently to a set of assistant press secretaries, who represent racial, cultural and political diversity. They include Kevin Munoz, who Psaki noted is fluent in Spanish; Vedant Patel, who was born in India, and Rosemary Boeglin, who worked for the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) before joining the Biden operation.
PS: Tumulty has not given us an update on her “adult son” who worked for the Biden campaign, which we think is Nicholas Richter (she didn’t specify which of her sons it was). Is he working for Biden now?