Instead of focusing on the many pressing issues in the world, White House reporters insisted on sticking their noses in the cocaine found in the West Wing.
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From time to time, the White House press corps reminds us that it does not primarily consist of journalists but rather a bunch of self-indulgent influencers eager to build a following. In their minds, they may be playing the leading role in a tale of heroic reporters who uncover grave misdeeds. In reality, they are nothing more than well-compensated performance artists and, even though they have unique access to those in power, real journalism is done elsewhere.
That dynamic was on full display Wednesday, when the press corps collectively demonstrated why White House reporters are essentially worthless.
Keep in mind that there is a lot happening in the world.
There is the ongoing war in Ukraine, and there are reports suggesting that a Russia-controlled nuclear power plant in the country could be sabotaged to unleash a catastrophe on its people.
There was a temporary injunction that prevents several government agencies and officials from communicating with social media companies, which might hamper efforts to stop the spread of misinformation.
There was a string of mass shootings across the US throughout the holiday weekend.
And, while Americans were murdering each other, Israelis were killing Palestinians in a military operation in the West Bank.
In addition, Sweden’s prime minister was in town at a time when his country is trying to join NATO.
Then, following the leaks of highly classified documents, the Pentagon is changing how such information can be accessed.
Finally, some cocaine was found in the West Wing.
Would you like to hazard a guess which of these major events the press corps focused on in Wednesday’s briefing with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre?
In total, reporters asked about 50 questions or sets of questions (even after analyzing the transcript, the exact number is hard to come by because there are some cases in which reporters are primarily grandstanding without actually asking anything).
More than 20 of these questions were about the cocaine being found in the West Wing. One would have been fine since this is clearly a thing that happened and merits some sort of explanation from the White House. It is, after all, a workplace, and cocaine is illegal.
For example, if somebody worked at Pizza Hut and found cocaine in the tomato sauce, it would be fair to ask where it came from and how it got there.
The same applies to the White House.
Even a couple of follow-ups would have been fine (and potentially even hilarious if they had been about Hunter Biden’s whereabouts).
Therefore, here is how this should have gone:
“Hey, Karine, what’s the deal with the cocaine?”
“Thanks for asking this super-pertinent question. I don’t have much for you on that. The Secret Service is investigating the matter, so we can’t really comment. As you may know, the cocaine was found in a highly trafficked area of the West Wing, but we hope to get to the bottom of this.”
“And where was the president this weekend?”
“He wasn’t in the White House, so this is obviously not his cocaine.”
“Thanks, let me move on to reports that Russia may blow up a nuclear power plant, which might draw the US into this war if the fallout reaches Poland and this is then considered an attack on NATO.”
However, that is not what happened.
One reporter after another asked the same questions over and over. That would have been fine if the answers had been especially newsworthy.
For example, if Jean-Pierre had divulged that “this cocaine was probably left over from that time the president did blow with the Girl Scout troop,” several follow-ups would have been warranted.
Instead, the White House press secretary gave essentially the same answer every time.
“Let the Secret Service do their job,” she said verbatim six times.
Well, let’s hope they do. And, just maybe, the White House press corps will one day get around to doing theirs again.