Welcome back to yet another episode of As The Mainstream Media World Turns. April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, went to CNN (where she also contributes) to complain that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was unprofessional to her in an exchange over Rudy Giuliani’s surprising interviews. By telling Ryan that she couldn’t just assume what was in her mind, Huckabee Sanders went “very street” on Ryan.
“It was a moment. She took this personally [being accused of being blindsided] and it was not a personal attack,” Ryan said in a CNN interview that followed a testy exchange during Thursday’s press briefing. “She admitted at that podium just moments ago and I’m sure she’s watching in her office, ‘Hi, Sarah,’ that she literally said at that podium that she heard Rudy Giuliani while we heard it.” …
“She was watching, she found out all of the information while she was watching Fox last night. So she was blindsided. This was not a personal attack on her. And for her to say something like, ‘You don’t know me’ — that was very street,” Ryan said.
“I know there are street politics here but that was very street. I’ve been here 21 years from this White House, from the second term of Bill Clinton until the first term of Donald J. Trump. I’ve seen impeachment, I’ve seen war, I’ve seen peace. So I understand the process. I’m not a dummy and do not discredit me. That’s what my comeback was,” Ryan said.
Here’s the exchange that Ryan describes as “very street,” whatever the hell that means:
MS. SANDERS: The White House Press Office wouldn’t coordinate with the President’s outside legal team on legal strategy.
Q But you were blindsided — you said yourself, I was blindsided by what he said.
MS. SANDERS: I actually didn’t use that term.
Q Well, I said it. (Laughter.) But you were blindsided, from what you said.
MS. SANDERS: Well, with all due respect, you actually don’t know much about me in terms of what I feel and what I don’t.
Q (Inaudible) been here for 21 years, so I understand how this operates. Do not discredit me.
In other words, Ryan put words into Huckabee Sanders’ mouth, which the press secretary pointed out. Huckabee Sanders didn’t discredit Ryan; Ryan’s admission that she made it up (“you said yourself”) did all the work on that score. If you’re a reporter who put words into someone’s mouth and then admit that’s what you just did, you don’t have much standing to complain about getting a response about it. If this response is “very street,” it must be a rather quiet boulevard in the suburbs.
It’s worth contrasting Ryan’s high dudgeon over Huckabee Sanders’ “very street” tactics with this Variety piece last month celebrating Ryan’s courage in standing up to the White House:
April Ryan, a longtime reporter for American Urban Radio Networks and, as a CNN contributor, a recognizable figure in the daily White House briefings, says her experience has been similar. “I actively get death threats just for asking a question,” she says. “I have law enforcement on speed dial.” She recently received a threat after asking White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether the president had considered resigning. Sanders dismissed Ryan’s query as “an absolutely ridiculous question.” Ryan has found her contentious exchanges with the administration at times going viral.
“For the last four presidents that I have covered, there’s a thread. There’s always retaliation, but never on this scale,” says Ryan, who is writing a book — “April Ryan Under Fire: On the Frontlines” — on reporting in the Trump era. “If you write on something or report on something they don’t like, of course they are going to give you a call or call your bosses or come to you literally and talk to you and say, ‘It wasn’t that way. You have gotten it wrong.’ This administration, you will get a [Fake News Award], or they will call you out. They will try to disparage your name. It has gone into personal attacks.”
With all that, a single “you actually don’t know me” in response to an attempt to push words into her mouth suddenly qualifies as “very street”? And speaking of threats …
CNN's April Ryan on Sarah Sanders:
"To say 'you don't know me' — in certain quarters in this nation that starts a physical fight."
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) May 4, 2018
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) May 4, 2018
Someone’s being thin-skinned here. It’s not Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
This is all part of the same tiresome game that has escalated over the last two years, in which a handful of White House correspondents believe they are the center of the universe. They aren’t there to report the news, they’re there to make the news … especially the highlight clips on the networks. That’s the only possible explanation for a reporter to blow up a “you don’t know me” into a full-blown call for a duel in the street, or in the very street, if you will. “Tiresome” doesn’t even begin to plumb the depth of disregard that most Americans outside the DC bubble feel for these antics.
Unfortunately, that’s not even the most hyperbolic statement to come out of the media this week. And they wonder why Americans continue to lose trust in the industry.