New White House press secretary Josh Earnest found himself at odds with a reporter at his first official briefing on Monday. He was accused of being less than upfront about a question concerning Iraq.
Earlier in the briefing, Earnest was asked if the White House had a list of calls to read out between world leaders and President Obama about the crisis in Iraq, to which Earnest reportedly responded there were none. Earnest was later asked by a Bloomberg reporter to confirm a conversation between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin concerning Ukraine.
As Earnest attempted to wrap up the briefing, a journalist regarded the disclosure of the communication between Obama and Putin as a “buried nugget of news”, to which Earnest replied, “Well, it took Roger’s [the Bloomberg reporter] nose for news to ask.” Real Clear Politics reporter Alexis Simendinger criticized Earnest’s handling of the questions, saying “that’s not true… you got asked earlier.”
“Alexis, you don’t have to get all exercised about this,” Earnest said.
“She’s not getting exercised, she’s telling you what it is,” another reporter said.
“We asked you the question, you should answer the question,” said Simendinger. “I did,” responded Earnest, but Simendinger continued to challenge Earnest: “No you didn’t. You said you had no calls to read out.”
“Alexis, I was asked if the president had conversations with world leaders about the situation in Iraq,” Earnest said in an attempt of clarification.
“Oh, so we should go around the map every day?” Alexis countered.
Earnest then ended the briefing: “Okay, thanks everybody.”