The Trump White House is apparently still reeling because the president didn’t get anything to eat at the soup-and-sole lunch he hosted for television personalities before Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
“[T]he president of the United States welcomed you to the White House and spent almost two hours answering so many questions that he didn’t eat his own lunch,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham complained about President Donald Trump’s personal sacrifice in a confidential email to the attendees—an email that was shared with The Daily Beast on Thursday morning. “He graciously gave you a couple of items on the record and then spoke frankly, honestly, and most importantly in good faith that it was off the record.”
Grisham, who doesn’t follow the practice of delivering White House press briefings, thus obliterating a decades-long tradition by administrations of both parties, continued: “Our only agenda was to give you an idea of what the president was going to say to the country in his third State of the Union address. It was so disappointing that not even an hour passed before we were inundated with inquiries, as someone or perhaps a few in the group chose to leak out most of what was said. What’s worse, some of the details were things the president specifically asked you not to share.”
It seems Grisham and her boss, who banned CNN from the meal, were especially angered by The Daily Beast’s report about the lunch—published hours before Trump’s speech to Congress—that contained many such details, such as the president’s criticisms of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and his vow to block publication of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book.
“To me, it is the height of hypocrisy that a press who bemoans the perceived lack of ethical behavior in this administration, so brazenly violates its own ethical standards,” Grisham went on, clearly warming to her subject. “The media cries for more access but cannot adhere to a simple agreed upon standard of off-the-record, which allowed your colleagues who were not in attendance to break the news for you.”
Delivering a helpful lecture on journalistic ethics, Grisham added: “Call me naïve, but it is my belief that old-fashioned accountability should be applied to a press corps that has sadly failed to hold itself to its very own standards. Accountability is, after all, one of the five core principles of journalism. ‘We hold the powerful accountable’ is a mantra that many in the press righteously shout from every news desk in this county. I ask—who holds all of you accountable?”
And so on and so forth, for several paragraphs more.
“In closing,” Grisham wrote, “I must say that for once I wouldn’t mind if this email leaked, but somehow I doubt anyone will want to admit to this complete lapse in integrity.”
Oh ye of little faith.