Sean Spicer’s appalling answer about economic data shows how far we’ve lowered the bar for Trump
by Matthew Yglesias
At Friday’s press briefing, Sean Spicer told an absurd lie to the assembled members of the White House press corps. But he did it with a smile rather than a snarl, so everyone laughed.
The issue was the release this morning of a strong jobs report indicating continued growth in the economy, which many Republicans took the opportunity to crow about. Given the frequency with which candidate Trump had questioned the integrity of government economic data (calling them “phony numbers” and “one of the biggest hoaxes in American politics”), the question went, was President Trump confident that today’s report was accurate?
Spicer, with a wry grin on his face, said, “They may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now.”
Reporters laughed at the absurdity of the answer and the absurdity of the overall situation. And given the number of different things the White House is currently facing scrutiny over — from a national security adviser who was working as an agent of a foreign government to a health care plan that betrays all of Trump’s campaign promises to the bizarre assertion that White House staffers don’t need to follow government ethics rules — it’s a little hard to blame reporters for not wanting to get bogged down in an argument over some transparent bullshit.
That said, it’s a pretty good indicator of how much Trump has succeeded in lowering the bar in terms of standards of conduct.
He spent months routinely maligning the work of career civil servants for no good reason. And now that it’s convenient for him to accept their work, he’s going to start accepting it. But there’s no apology and no admission of error — and it’s not even a big story. Just another day at the office.