White House forgets to read the article, shares parody lampooning its cruel budget

The article concluded, “RAW POWER! HARD RAW POWER GRRRRRR HISSS POW!”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, right, give the podium to Budget Director Mick Mulvaney during daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 16, 2017, where he spoke about the Trump Administration’s budget proposals. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
White House press secretary Sean Spicer, right, give the podium to Budget Director Mick Mulvaney during daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 16, 2017, where he spoke about the Trump Administration’s budget proposals. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

This week, the White House began sending out an official email newsletter, “Your 1600 Daily,” to promote video clips of the president, pertinent news articles or endorsements, and other items of note happening that day.

On Friday, there was an odd inclusion at the bottom, where normally one can find friendly headlines from Fox News, Breitbart, or other conservative outlets that have become media safe harbors for the administration. One of the two featured articles was a parody piece titled “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why,” written by Alexandra Petri, who writes satirical pieces for the Washington Post’s lighthearted ComPost blog.

CREDIT: 1600 Daily email
CREDIT: 1600 Daily email

The overtly self-aware headline may have rung true on an extremely superficial level to whoever at the White House decided to include it to promote the president’s agenda that day. The article’s subtitle reads: “It is the best budget ever.”

ThinkProgress asked the White House press office if they were aware the article was a parody, and if so, why they selected it, but received no response by press time.

If this was a simple mistake, then the staff member who chose and approved the article’s inclusion on official White House communications did not read beyond the first paragraph, which makes abundantly clear that the headline is deeply sarcastic:

Some people are complaining that the budget proffered by the Trump administration, despite its wonderful macho-sounding name, is too vague and makes all sorts of cuts to needed programs in favor of increasing military spending by leaps and bounds. These people are wimps. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has called it a “hard power budget” which is, I think, the name of an exercise program where you eat only what you can catch, pump up your guns and then punch the impoverished in the face. This, conveniently, is also what the budget does.

If this is a tradition to include a parody lampooning a key item of the president’s agenda in these newsletters at the end of the week in lieu of a “casual Fridays” dress code change, it will become evident next week.

Other sections of the newsletter are anodyne White House agenda items that urge supporters to “get involved” or share important tweets “from President Trump,” promote “Oval Office highlights,” link to press room briefings, and detail Trump’s schedule.

Sometimes these links, always titled “News Reports,” are op-eds or letters to the editor by friendly voices or administration officials, or a straight news piece about a positive economic development or administration announcement. None of the other days of the “News Reports” section featured anything like Petri’s parody.

The links included in Tuesday’s newsletter, for example, are representative of Trump allies’ favorite outlets:

CREDIT: 1600 Daily email
CREDIT: 1600 Daily email

Wednesday was the second day in a row the newsletter linked to a Breitbart article about Obamacare. Other featured items include stories from Fox News, Townhall, Washington Post, Washington Examiner, Yahoo, and an endorsement of AHCA by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. On Thursday many mainstream outlets were cited, as well as the right-wing Heritage Foundation’s news site, called The Daily Signal.

The Washington Post’s ComPost blog, which is subtitled “Alexandra Petri puts the ‘pun’ in punditry,” consistently features headlines that make it very clear that it is not serious news:

  • ‘Wayne Tracker: Legends of the Caped Crusader’ [subtitle: He is the hero we deserve, I guess.]
  • All your health-care questions answered [subtitle: I knew I should not have replaced both kidneys with iPhones! In retrospect, that choice was terrible!]
  • If you thought Trump’s speech was ‘Presidential,’ you probably loved Scar the Lion’s [subtitle: This was Teleprompter Saruman, not Twitter Saruman.]
  • Great news: President Trump did not bite any bats in half during his address to Congress! [subtitle: Exactly how low is the bar, America?]

“My biggest thought is that I am honored to be REAL NEWS,” Petri said when ThinkProgress asked her for her reaction. “I have always wanted the White House to take me seriously but also literally. I hope that they will keep reading what I write — or start reading it, as the case may be!”

She also seemed to take it in stride on Twitter:

Well, mostly in stride.

As of the time this article was published, the online version of the newsletter still contained the link.

This post has been updated to include reaction from Alexandra Petri.