White House makes reporters ‘give thanks’ before asking questions
On Monday, Huckabee Sanders began the last White House press briefing before Thanksgiving by sharing what she was thankful for, adding that “it would be nice” if the press pool did the same before they asked their questions.
Huckabee Sanders expressed thanks for her family, her faith, the military and the first responders who “keep us safe here at home.”
“Obviously, you probably know, and it's not secret, that I'm clearly very thankful for all of you here in the room, and I think that goes without saying,” Huckabee Sanders said. “And I'm certainly thankful for the incredible privilege of serving this president and the American people.”
Huckabee Sanders then laid down the ground rules, telling reporters that it was “only fair” that they should also say what they are thankful for before they could ask a question.
“If you want to ask a question, I think it’s only fair since I’ve shared what I’m thankful for, that you start off for what you’re thankful for,” Huckabee Sanders said.
While the majority of the reporters said they were thankful for their families and friends, others seemed to troll the press secretary.
First, Huckabee Sanders first called on American Urban Radio Networks' April Ryan, who said she was thankful “to be able to talk to you and question you every single day.”
“I feel the gratefulness there,” Huckabee Sanders said.
“I hope you felt the passion of my thankfulness,” Ryan said.
When Ryan followed up on her question about North Korea, Huckabee Sanders interrupted, “I'm starting to regret calling on you first.”
“You’re thankful for all of us,” Ryan said.
“I am, but I don’t want that to go away,” Huckabee Sanders said as she called on another reporter.
ABC News’s Cecilia Vega said that she is thankful for the First Amendment, which drew audible cheers from others in the press corps.
“I think we all are,” Sanders responded quickly.
“Yeah, but we are part of it,” Ryan muttered.
When the Associated Press’s Zeke Miller decided to opt out of the exercise, Huckabee Sanders interrupted his question to remind him that he was breaking the “rule” of the presser.
“Zeke, you did break the rule of not offering anything you were thankful for,” Huckabee Sanders chided him, to laughter.
At the end of the briefing, Huckabee Sanders thanked the reporters for participating in the “very fun exercise.”
A number of reporters who were not in the briefing room responded to Huckabee Sanders on social media, tweeting that they were thankful they did not have to participate in the “bizarre” exercise.
I'm thankful to have never sat through a White House press briefing where I was expected to say what I was thankful for.— Angela GreilingKeane (@agreilingkeane) November 20, 2017
I am thankful for not having to go to the briefing room every day— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) November 20, 2017
I'm thankful I live in a democracy, where the free press don't have to perform like schoolchildren for gov't authority figures. https://t.co/1yhifiTYJw— David Roberts (@drvox) November 20, 2017
I am thankful for the 1st Amendment.— John Berman (@JohnBerman) November 20, 2017
(which I think protects me from having to say what I am thankful for.)
When the briefing is done all WH reporters must also put their toys away and sit criss-cross applesauce.— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) November 20, 2017
I’m thankful for Bob Mueller. https://t.co/tQjGKiRCYu— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 20, 2017
Other reporters did seem to enjoy the exercise, with the BBC’s Jon Sopel saying it should be a daily requirement at the White House press briefing.