White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calmly defended President Donald Trump’s attacks on MSNBC host Mika Brzezinksi during a press briefing on Thursday.
Trump’s Thursday-morning tweets, in which he called the “Morning Joe” host “crazy” and claimed she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when she visited his Florida resort early this year, earned widespread condemnation throughout the day, including from several Republicans on Capitol Hill.
But Sanders argued that the president has every right to “hit back” at “the liberal media” and “Hollywood elites” when they criticise him.
“I don’t think you can expect someone to be attacked day after day, minute by minute, and sit back,” Sanders said, arguing that the criticism the president and his aides endure is often personal in nature. “When the president gets hit, he’s going to hit back harder.”
Throughout Sanders’ questioning on the president’s tweets, she repeatedly returned to the administration’s central argument — that the media is fundamentally biased against Trump and his associates.
“The only person that I see a war on is this president and everybody that works for him,” Sanders said.
When asked by a reporter whether Trump should hold himself to “a higher standard than cable news anchors,” Sanders deflected, arguing that American voters have approved of Trump’s behaviour because they voted for him “overwhelmingly.”
“Look, the American people elected a fighter, they didn’t elect somebody to sit back and do nothing,” she said. “They knew what they were getting when they voted for Donald Trump.”
NBC White House correspondent Hallie Jackson made the questioning personal, asking Sanders whether she will tell her three young children that the president’s behaviour “is ok.”
Notably, Sanders did not say the president was a role model to her children, and responded that she points them to God because “none of us are perfect.”
Sanders also shut down a question from Politico’s Tara Palmeri on the possible sexist undertones of Trump’s tweets, given that he attacked Brzezinski on the basis of her appearance.
“What do you think about the president attacking another women specifically for her looks?” Palmieri asked.
“Everybody wants to make this an attack on a woman,” Sanders said. “I’m a woman and I’ve been attacked by this show multiple times, but I don’t cry foul because of it.”
Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, has taken on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s press briefing duties more frequently in recent months, and appears to be a growing influence within the president’s communications team.
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