Politics, Moderate



Because Sarah sez so, that's why

Kathleen Parker on

If Sanders isn't evading, she's scolding. Like a parent weary of her 3-year-old's constant "why?," her tone and expression telegraph: "Because I say so, case closed."

Sanders' sudden shift from press secretary to minister's daughter a few days before Thanksgiving coincides with her apparent image evolution of being more-carefully coiffed, couture-d and contoured with appropriately professional makeup. One can almost hear the hive of consultants discussing how to imperceptibly adapt this no-frills brainiac to the shallower requirements of a visual medium.

If one were Sanders' employer, meanwhile, one surely would be pleased. She's everything a terrible person -- or, say, an unpopular president -- could hope for in a public relations artist. She says nothing; gives away nothing; looks fierce and dutifully repeats falsehoods as required. Her resistance to flinching or blinking is state of the art.

Yet, even as Sanders declines to enlighten the press corps, she manages to inspire admiration for her toughness and effectiveness -- from a certain perspective. To Donald Trump's base, she's the a la mode on a slice of apple pie, the pompom and confetti at a freedom rally, or, perhaps, the elfin princess who can read and direct a person's thoughts by hypnotizing them with her magic pearls. Her daily humiliation of the press, making them seem like churlish children, is a booster shot of "fake news" animus that also inoculates against viral truths.

To the media, she is the wall Trump promised to erect and, increasingly, it seems, we are the swamp he seeks to drain. Out with the media, out with free speech, out with facts! For these purposes, Sanders is perfectly cast. Where there is the prolonged car alarm of "fake news," there is bound to be a fake news officer. Such is not always the case. In fact, the most successful press secretaries were journalists first.

Jay Carney, formerly of Time magazine comes to mind, as does Tony Snow, previously of Fox News. Both men were well-known, respected and liked by their media peers before crossing over to the Dark Side. They also understood what reporters needed and tried to provide it. When they couldn't, they were at least self-effacing and seemed sincere in regretting limitations imposed by the job. Most important, they fully understood and appreciated the sanctity of the First Amendment, without which all freedoms fail.

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To this testament, a note of personal gratitude. Today, not just on our national feast day, I'm thankful for the freedom to speak without (undue) fear of retribution.

Let's not let the turkeys whittle it away.


Kathleen Parker's email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group



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