When Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to admonish the press for how they do their job, one reporter wasn't having it, and he made his dissent loud and clear.
Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed up as the surprise replacement for Sean Spicer during Tuesday's long-awaited on-camera briefing, alongside Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. And she almost immediately caused a searing rebuke from one reporter who was disgusted with the administration's treatment of the press.
After Perry muddled through questions about the science of climate change, Texas' economy, and his feelings on states' rights (spoiler: he likes them, when they align with his political views), Sanders took the podium to face down a White House press corps that was surely ready to bring the heat.
After being subjected to a media blackout by the White House, with only off-camera press gaggles occurring — which CNN reporter Jim Acosta blisteringly called out days earlier — reporters in the briefing room appeared fully ready to take up their role again.
And one reporter in particular made it clear just how disrespectful to journalists, and to the Constitution which enshrines freedom of the press into our national identity, this administration's attitude toward them has been.
Brian Karem, of The Sentinel in Maryland, did not let Sanders get away with the typical White House narrative of labeling any news outlet that is not totally effusive and positive regarding Trump as being "fake news."
Sanders complained about "the constant barrage of fake news directed at this president," and that she thinks "we have gone to a place where, if the media can't be trusted to report the news, then that's a dangerous place for America." She implied that networks were pushing false stories about Trump to inflate their ratings — specifically the "Russia Trump hoax," as she pointedly phrased it.
And after she told the press that they ought to be covering other stories, Karem spoke up vociferously:
SANDERS: But news outlets get to go on, day after day, and cite unnamed sources, use stories without sources, have — you know, you mentioned the Scaramucci story, where they had to have reporters resign —
KAREM: Come on, you're inflaming everybody right here, right now, with those words. This administration has done that as well. Why in the name of heavens — any one of us, right, are replaceable. And any of us, if we don't get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us. You have been elected to serve for four years, at least. There's no option other than that. We're here to ask you questions. You're here to provide the answers. And what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country, who look at it and say, 'See, once again, the president is right and everybody else is fake media.' Everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.
Sanders' comments were indeed inflammatory and outrageous, but unfortunately they are part of the pattern within the Trump administration.
Hostility toward the First Amendment has been a driving force for this White House from the beginning. But reporters like Karem have shown that no amount of insults, reprimands, or intimidation will stop them from doing their job on behalf of the American people.