Earlier today, I wrote about the importance of pointing out every time an official spokesperson gets testy with their press pool over fair-yet-tough questions. Marie Harf got herself in hot water yesterday when she hinted to the corps that the questions they were asking were far too complex to cover in a press briefing, then got caught lying about how much information she had about the Iranian nuclear deal. It was ugly, and told us a lot more about the State Department than Harf’s policy bullet points.
Today, Josh Earnest ran into a similar roadblock during the midday press briefing with the White House press corps. Earnest has a history of trying to run offense around tough questions, but it’s only recently that the corps has responded with soundbite-worthy pushback.
Today’s little show involved a question about a comment Hillary Clinton made about small business growth under the Obama administration. She said that small business creation has “stalled out” in the United States, and ABC News correspondent Jon Karl wanted a response from the White House.
Watch here, via Real Clear Politics:
JONATHAN KARL: Do you agree with Hillary Clinton that under President Barack Obama small business creation has “stalled out” in the U.S.?
JOSH EARNEST: You’re acting as if that is a direct quote, I suspect it is not.
JONATHAN KARL: Stalled out. Small business creation has “stalled out.” Do you agree that it has stalled out?
JOSH EARNEST: The president himself has said many times that there are additional important steps that could be taken by Washington D.C. where members of Congress no longer serve as an impediment to forward economic momentum, but actually support it.
JONATHAN KARL: That’s not my question though, do you agree that small business creation has stalled in the U.S.
JOSH EARNEST: I didn’t see the majority of her remarks.
JONATHAN KARL: Has small business creation stalled in the U.S.?
JOSH EARNEST: I’ll look at the statistics and get back to you.
It’s getting to be that time, folks.
By “that time,” I mean that time in both a presidential term and an election cycle when members of the same party begin to turn on one another in new and exciting ways, and I get to write about it. Earnest attempted to give the standard, “the President thinks there’s more we can do” answer, and Karl rejected it out of hand because he wasn’t looking for a statistic—he was looking for a political response.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Get ready for a lot more of this. Josh Earnest already has the worst job in Washington, and it’s about to get a lot harder, because if there’s one thing Hillary Clinton knows, it’s that she needs to distance herself from the Obama administration’s most damaging talking points before the Republicans manage to tie her to all of them.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.