As a political mouthpiece, I was never impugned by a comedian

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders arrives onstage at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington on April 28, 2018; Comedian Michelle Wolf performs at the dinner./ REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer

Some news for those residing in lead mines: the Trump Administration is at war with the news media.

At Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, guest speaker (I’m not going to call her a comedian) Michelle Wolf crossed the comedy red line by delivering an ad hominem attack on Sarah Sanders Huckabee, Trump’s press secretary.

What former Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said when he got lambasted by the news media could apply to Sanders: “I was road kill today.”

I don’t agree with how she talks around reporters, but she should be praised for not walking out of the dinner, as some Republicans did, and not starting a social media war with Wolf or the correspondents’ organization.

Sin of omission

In 1973, I had the fortune (some days the misfortune) of being hired as the press secretary to United States Senator Gale McGee. Going from being a reporter to a political position was difficult, but the goal did not change: tell the truth.

For those of you old enough to remember, the late Jack Anderson, who “was a flamboyant bridge between the muckrakers of the early decades of the 20th century and the battalions of investigative reporters unleashed by news organizations after Watergate, as described by The New York Times.

Anderson called McGee’s office one day saying he was working on a story that would show the senator had wielded undue influence to get a job for one of his kids.

Sin of omission, admittedly, is a technique press secretaries use to avoid having to lie… Anderson kept asking whether [name of one of the senator’s kids] got the job because his McGee had pushed his position as a senator on the employer. I denied and continued to deny it but Anderson kept hammering on the allegation.

He finally gave up.

While one of the senator’s kids did land the job in government, Anderson had the wrong kid.

Omission of Michelle Wolf from its annual dinner, the correspondents’ association would not have committed a sin.

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