Yochi Dreazen · Monday, February 27, 2017, 10:17 am
In the annals of New York Times corrections, this one is a doozy:
Correction: February 25, 2017
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to Sean Spicer’s upbringing. He was New England bred, having been raised in Rhode Island; he was not “New England born.” (Mr. Spicer would not go on the record and give the correct facts pertaining to his birthplace.)
The subject of the story — President Donald Trump's struggles with the aggressive Washington press corps — is actually less important than what that correction tells you about his administration's treatment of the media. It is a clear illustration of how Trump’s continuing verbal war on the media plays out in real time.
Read that last sentence again. The White House press secretary — whose sole job is to communicate with the media — refused to answer questions about where he was born.
You can imagine a parallel universe where Spicer, like most past press secretaries of both parties, might have refused to comment about sensitive issues of national security.
But that wasn't what happened here. Spicer — memorably portrayed by Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live as a raging, nearly unhinged bully — refused to answer a basic and anodyne question about his biography.
This came just days after Spicer drew widespread condemnation for pointedly excluding several mainstream media outlets, including the Times, from a routine gaggle with reporters.
It's easy to focus on Trump’s nonstop series of attacks on the press, which he now regularly describes as an “enemy of the people.”
But Spicer illustrates something much less attention grabbing, but in some ways just as dangerous: a White House that refuses to answer basic questions.
To be fair, when they do answer questions, many of those answers turn out to be false