White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke on Fox News Wednesday morning in defense of the Kentucky high schoolers wearing “Make America Great Again” gear who harassed a Native American man late last week in Washington, D.C.
“The idea anybody could take joy in the destruction of young kids is absolutely outrageous to me. That’s exactly what we saw members of the media and other leaders do,” Sanders claimed on “Fox & Friends.”
The Covington Catholic High School students were criticized for their manic response to the Native drummer, Nathan Phillips, who was participating in the Indigenous Peoples March. One student, Nick Sandmann, stood inches from Phillips with a wide smirk.
“These are kids ― let’s not forget ― these are 15- and 16-year-old kids who were put in a very tough position and actually handled it very well,” Sanders continued.
Her plea on behalf of young people struck many as hollow. After all, President Donald Trump and plenty of his supporters have a long history of attacking young people, especially if they are Trump critics.
In response to a story on Sanders’ comments, former Parkland, Florida, student and gun policy activist David Hogg responded, “Really?”
Hogg was the target of relentless attacks by conservatives and right-wing media after a gunman killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. He received death threats and was openly mocked by some on Fox News, yet the press secretary offered no similar words of support for Hogg or his activist classmates during that time.
Others called out Sanders for having defended the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southwestern U.S. border and holding them in wire pens.
“It’s very biblical to enforce the law,” she said last summer in defense of the policy.
Daily Kos writer Gabe Ortiz pointed to a disturbing detail on the separations from a June 2018 Vanity Fair article, which claimed that White House adviser Stephen Miller “actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border.” A federal agency recently acknowledged that the separation crisis was much worse than previously reported, and the exact number of families separated at the border is unknown.
In a similar vein, the Trump White House has denied culpability in the deaths of two migrant children held in federal custody at the border.
Writer Jill Filipovic recalled Trump’s ’80s-era campaign against a group of black teens known as the Central Park Five who were wrongly convicted of rape.
“Remember when your boss used his vast wealth to take out an ad demanding the death penalty for five teenagers who turned out to be innocent, helping to fuel a city-wide panic that convicted & imprisoned them?” she wrote on Twitter.
“Tell me more about your concern for gleefully ruining kids’ lives,” she said.
The Trump-supporting Covington teens may even get a special invitation from the White House.
After conflicting reports about a possible visit, Sanders clarified Wednesday morning that “the president has shown his support through tweets for these kids and certainly would be open to having them here after the government reopens.”