During the White House news conference on Tuesday, April Ryan, Washington bureau chief for the American Urban Radio Networks, asked Sean Spicer about how the Trump administration plans to rehab its image amid an ever-widening Russia scandal that’s now the subject of an FBI investigation and two separate congressional probes.
The question is a timely one. On Monday, Gallup reported that President Trump’s approval rating has fallen to 36 percent — lower than Presidents Obama or Clinton ever fell.
But instead of addressing the question, Spicer went after Ryan. At one point, he admonished her to “please, stop shaking your head.”
“I appreciate your agenda here,” Spicer said, sarcastically. “At some point report the facts. The facts are that every single person who has been briefed on this subject has some away with the same conclusion — Republican, Democrat — so, I’m sorry that that disgusts you, you’re shaking your head, I appreciate it.”
Spicer’s claim that informed people unanimously agree there’s no real scandal unpinning Trump’s shady dealing with Russian officials is false. Not only have Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees voiced support for an independent investigation, but some Republicans have signaled their support too.
Spicer’s treatment of Ryan seemed to irk other White House reporters.
"Stop shaking your head again," Spicer lectures @AprilDRyan, who is a grown woman.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 28, 2017
Ryan herself responded to Spicer’s blowup with a one-word tweet:
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) March 28, 2017
During a subsequent interview on MSNBC, Ryan said that in her 20 years covering the White House, “we’ve never seen anything like this before.”
“Sean is being the White House press secretary talking about and trying to make this administeration look better than it does right now, and unfortunately I was road kill today,” she said.
Spicer’s blowup came a day after he compounded the White House’s image problem by passing up an easy opportunity Ryan presented him to condemn the murder of a black man by a white supremacist in New York City.
Instead of addressing Ryan’s question about whether the White House had anything to say about the racist violence, Spicer went on tangents about recent anti-Semitic incidents and Trump’s “crime and education” discussion with meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
Ryan has also made news during for an interaction she had with the president during his February 16 news conference. She asked Trump whether he planned to meet with the CBC.
Trump initially didn’t seem to understand that by “CBC,” Ryan was referring to the Congressional Black Caucus. But after Ryan clarified, he asked her to set up a meeting with black members of Congress for him.
“Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours? Set up the meeting,” Trump said. “Let’s go — set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the black caucus.”
“No no no, I’m just a reporter,” Ryan replied.