Interviewed by Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, Fox News political analyst Brit Hume remarked about the recent sparring between members of the press corps and White House spokespersons Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders. On Tuesday, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told members of the White House press corps that CNN is a “disgrace” to journalism. Hume said that some news organizations engage in "virtue signaling" at the Whtie House press briefings.
This followed the resignation of three prominent journalists at CNN after the network retracted a story about Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci and his supposed connections to Russians. In addition, an undercover video produced by Project Veritas recorded a CNN news producer admitting that the network’s coverage of supposed connections between Donald Trump’s campaign organization and Russia was “bullsh-t” designed to increase ratings.
When Sanders took members of the media to task on Tuesday for unsourced reports on the narrative about Russia, reporter Brian Karem interrupted her with an objection. Countering what the Washington Post dubbed an “anti-media tirade” by Sanders, Karem said that she was “inflaming everybody right here, right now with those words.” He went on to say that reporters are replaceable and if they misreport the news, “the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us.” Karem said, “Everybody here is just trying to do a job.”
Sanders stuck to her guns, telling Karem “I disagree completely. I think that anything has been inflamed it’s been the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media. And I think it is outrageous for you to accuse me of inflaming a story when I was simply trying to respond to his question.” Karem sought to explain his interruption of Sanders in a subsequent op-ed that appeared in Playboy, writing, “I don’t like bullies and I don’t like the entire situation of the press and free speech being castigated for no other reason than we either get stories wrong — which happens, and it should be then responsibly corrected — or because we report news the president doesn’t like — which seems to happen even more often than getting stories wrong.”
Commenting on the exchange, Hume told Carlson, “No reporter for a sizeable organization as CNN should be relying on the briefings to get news. A reporter, a CNN correspondent can get his or her calls returned. New York Times reporter. Washington Post reporter. Fox News correspondent. We can get our calls returned at the White House. It’s for lots and lots and dozens of smaller news organizations that cover the White House on a daily basis. And the daily briefing is really kind-of for them, to give them a chance to get a question and get it answered, and to learn what the schedule of the day is.”
Hume pointed out, “If you had a really good question that really led somewhere, you would never ask it in the briefing because you would not want to inform the entire rest of the press corps what you’re working on.” Carlson answered, “It’s kabuki, it’s theater!”
Hume went on to say, “In this hothouse atmosphere, with this antipathy toward this president as strong as it is now, it’s a kind of form of virtue signaling to be asking tough questions at that briefing, and it seems to me that there is no point in beating up on the briefer. If you want to ask tough questions, try to ask them of the president.” To this, Carlson said “Exactly!”