I find it hard sometimes not to pity White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, although she should have known what she was getting herself into when she took the gig last year after poor Sean Spicer fled in disgrace. But given what her job has become under the current incumbent, Sanders probably should not have trotted out the other day a famous saying about the difference between facts and opinions.
The colorful former senator (and ambassador and Harvard professor) Daniel Patrick Moynihan is often credited with the saying that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.”
That’s the one that Sanders invoked from the press room podium yesterday as she attempted to disparage the various shocking claims that surfaced in advance of the publication of Michael Wolff’s explosive new Trump administration exposé, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” about which you undoubtedly heard a fair bit yesterday as excerpts were released portraying the first year of the Trump administration as a serious dumpster fire.
The Trump White House is where respect for facticity goes to die. So when, in an effort to suggest that some of the revelations in “Fire and Fury” might not be reliable, Sanders invoked the Moynihan rule, CNN’s Jake Tapper was ready for her at the opening of his next show that same day on CNN’s “The Lead.”
After quoting her invocation of the Moynihan you-aren’t-entitled-to-your-own-facts crack, Tapper let fly with a small sample of a certain president’s habit of making fact-free claims:
Just a reminder, Sarah: The president claimed with no evidence that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination, that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey were seen on TV cheering after the 9/11 attacks and that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, which, of course, he was. … But, I’m sorry, were you saying something about misleading information and a need to stick to facts?
Of course, that’s a teensy sample of instances in which the current occupant of the Oval Office felt entitled to his own (shall we say “questionable”) facts.