On Friday, Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi explored the increasing snark in White House “pool reports,” which are supposed to be dry, fairly objective descriptions of presidential movements, but with today’s Trump-hating press corps, no one could possibly be restrained. The headline in the paper was “Waters are getting a bit nippy in White House pool.”
Farhi didn’t quite note that part of the problem is bomb-throwing leftist websites are being granted this supposedly dry task. Expecting objective reporting out of HuffPost is like expecting filet mignon at 7-Eleven.
“The president has nothing on his public schedule today,” began HuffPost reporter Shirish Date’s pool report Tuesday. “He also has not posted any falsehoods on Twitter about winning the election or fraud or anything else, for that matter, in more than 11 hours. The day, however, is young.”
Humorous or quirky pool reports are by no means new. What has changed, reporters say, are the president and the media landscape.
Date, the HuffPost reporter who wrote Tuesday’s pool report, said it would be a “disservice” if he didn’t call out the president’s lies about the election results. “His dishonesty and his falsehoods are as basic a part of the who-what-where landscape as the color of his tie,” he said.
It’s always a “disservice” to refrain from the “firehose of lies” narrative. This “quirky” guy really hates Trump.
The “no means new” part should apply to the notable snark of pool reports by Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank during the George W. Bush years, in which he would mock press secretary Ari Fleischer with his actual first name “Lawrence.” Gee, this always happens under Republican presidents, for some reason!
Then came Olivia Nuzzi, another reporter who’s seeking fame and fortune with overt snark:
And there were the unusually colorful reports from New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi, who was the “pooler” for Vice President Pence on a final campaign swing through the Midwest. Pence didn’t take any questions from the press pool, she wrote: “We’ve seen him only for a couple of wooden, monarchical waves” to supporters.
Pence’s communications chief Katie Miller was so put off by two of Nuzzi’s pool filings that she took the rare step of refusing to send them via the White House’s email distribution list, “leading Nuzzi to claim censorship.”
Nuzzi dished in a pool report that staff members had removed their masks once they had settled into their seats on Air Force Two. (The horror.)
Told that anything occurring on the vice president’s plane was off the record and therefore not reportable, Nuzzi doubled down — filing a subsequent pool report noting that she had never agreed to go off the record. “What if they had redecorated the inside of the plane with fluffy pink seat coverings or something, would that be off the record?” she wrote.
In another pool dispatch, she wondered at length whether Pence minded spending so much time listening to Trump: “Was it worth it, if in the end, he doesn’t become president — the outcome every Vice President so desperately hopes for?”
Katie Miller told White House Correspondents Association officials that Nuzzi would be left off the flight home if she continued to file these Pence-mocking reports. So Nuzzi filed a petulant pool report that read, “In order to avoid being ejected from the flight, your pooler agreed to not have an eye for detail or a personality for the rest of the night.” (There’s more on Nuzzi’s attention-seeking brattiness right before the election here.)
In retrospect, Nuzzi told the Post, “the entire episode just further confirmed for me that Washington is run in every department by humorless, frightened people who hate themselves.”
As opposed to “reporters” who love themselves so deeply that the act of reporting has to be all about their witless opinions.