In recent weeks, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has become a familiar figure behind the White House lectern. She began sporadically filling in for White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in May, but her familiarity to members of the White House press corps hasn't necessarily made her a friendly face. During Tuesday's briefing, Huckabee Sanders accused the media of dishonesty, carrying on a feisty exchange with a reporter.
Standing in the White House briefing room, Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump was frustrated with the "constant barrage of fake news that is directed at this president," after being asked why the president continues to slam CNN on Twitter. Then, she went on to criticize common practices of journalism, saying, "News outlets get to go on day after day and site unnamed sources, use stories without sources ... [and] have reporters resign."
To that, Huckabee Sanders disagreed. "If anything has been inflamed, it's the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media," she said. Video of the exchange between Karem and Huckabee Sanders quickly spread online.
Later, Karem spoke to MSNBC about the heated exchange. "It was a long time coming," he said; "it was six months." He also said that being called dishonest "rankled me."
Tuesday's press briefing began as a report on Energy Week. Energy Secretary Rick Perry joined Huckabee Sanders in the briefing room to discuss the Trump administration's "commitment to American energy dominance." According to the White House's readout from the briefing, Perry discussed streamlining bureaucratic processes and the president's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement earlier this month:
After taking some questions, Perry turned things over to Huckabee Sanders for the rest of the day's news. The deputy press secretary — and daughter of former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee — began filling in for Spicer when he reportedly had to serve his U.S. Navy Reserve commitment in May, according to The Hill. Her presence at Tuesday's briefing was unplanned, as Spicer had been scheduled to lead the briefing but instead stayed on Capitol Hill to support the GOP health care plan.
Tensions between the White House and the news media have escalated over the course of the Trump administration's first six months in office. In February, the White House reportedly blocked certain news outlets from attending an off-camera news briefing, according to POLITICO, though Spicer denied that claim.
More recently, off-camera press briefings have grown increasingly common, frustrating some journalists. Tuesday's talk of a dishonest media seemed to bring those tensions to a breaking point.