The Thanksgiving holiday spirit took a bit of a strident twist during Monday’s press briefing by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
She told journalists that they would be expected to announce what they were thankful for before they could ask her a question, and most complied.
“So this is how it’s going to work today, since I’m here and I get to call on you,” she said. “If you want to ask a question, I think it’s only fair, since I’ve shared what I’m thankful for, that you start off with what you’re thankful for. So, anybody want to be first on what they’re thankful for?”
Huckabee Sanders noted that she was “clearly very thankful for all of you here in the room — I think that goes without saying,” to laughter. She went on say that she was grateful for her family, her faith, the “brave men and women” of the military, first responders and serving the president. Her speech starts just after the 16 minute mark in the video above.
Most reporters appeared happy to share what they were thankful for. Just a few journalists who asked questions didn’t follow Huckabee Sanders’ requirement, and she answered their questions nonetheless. However, she warned Zeke Miller of The Associated Press that he “did break the rule” when he asked about Donald Trump’s possible Supreme Court candidates. Miller quickly responded that he was grateful for the “question.”
The snarkiest rejoinder came from April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, who was the first journalist Huckabee Sanders called on.
Ryan listed life, children, 20 years on the job and “to be able to talk to you and question you every single day.”
“I feel the gratefulness there,” Huckabee Sanders said. Ryan added: “I hope you felt the passion of my thankfulness.”
When Ryan tried for another question, Huckabee Sanders said: “April, I’m starting to regret calling on you first.” Ryan shot back by quoting her: “You’re thankful for all of us. I’m part of the group.”
Cecilia Vega of ABC News said she was thankful for the First Amendment, to “oohs” in the room. Huckabee Sanders responded: “I think we all are.”
Journalists also got in on the act on Twitter. John Berman of CNN pointed out that the First Amendment means you don’t have to say what you’re grateful for.