Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ rehabilitation kicks off with a media still unwilling to confront her lies

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 22: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders conducts a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House August 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Tuesday President Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen admitted in court that Mr. Trump directed him to break campaign finance laws by paying off two women who said they had sexual relationships with Mr. Trump at the same time that Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight counts of tax and bank fraud. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

No sooner did the news get out that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving the White House than the rehabilitation project began. Sanders’ role as a prominent liar-for-hire makes it a little difficult—only the most determined Trumpists will be able to completely gloss over her lies—but check out The New York Timestake on her legacy. Writing what is part ode to Sanders’ competence (at lying), part strenuous effort at on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand, Michael Grynbaum has crafted a masterpiece of “Um, what?”

Okay, so Sanders “falsely called a CNN reporter a groper and stripped him of his press credential” and “fabricated an anecdote about F.B.I. agents calling her to complain about their former director James B. Comey.” But unlike Sean Spicer, who “could never quite conceal the strain of life as President Trump’s press secretary,” she “never seemed especially flustered.”

In public, she chastised reporters for asking her tough questions by comparing them to her small children, but “She could be sociable with reporters, sipping wine after hours and offering guidance behind closed West Wing doors.”

That’s the material for rehabilitation when someone leaves the Trump White House. She was cool and unflappable while lying to the public, and her public insults were followed up by wine-sipping sociability. The other side of rehabilitation, of course, is what goes unsaid. The Times has to acknowledge some of Sanders’ lies, but apparently assessing her legacy only needs to include a very select few—so, no mention of greatest hits such as the time she claimed that Trump “never promoted or encouraged violence” or her sneering attacks on the many women who’ve come forward to say that Trump harassed or groped them. No mention of how, almost exactly a year before announcing her departure, Sanders described family separation as “very biblical,” a moment for which she should be shunned in perpetuity.

Sanders isn’t ruling out running for her father’s previous job of Arkansas governor, though presumably she’ll take a minute to cash in first.

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