Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union speech Tuesday night. While the talk radio legend looked shocked and overwhelmed at the honor, visibly moved to be so recognized, if he was surprised it means he was not paying attention to any news.
Reports about the honor being bestowed on him had been widely reported late in the afternoon on Tuesday.
NEWS: Trump will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh after learning of his lung cancer diagnosis. He told ppl he wants to award it during SOTU, but will likely hold a ceremony next week w/ @meridithmcgraw @dlippman https://t.co/3fnUM3UPg5
— Gabby Orr (@GabbyOrr_) February 4, 2020
The perplexing part of this is that the announcement was made at the pre-SOTU television anchors luncheon. That annual event is a tradition the President attends the afternoon of his speech, and it is widely known to be an off-the-record affair. Yet numerous news outlets were passing around the news made at the gathering.
When the White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, was asked directly about the Limbaugh announcement there was no answer given. The response to the question also carried a rebuke to the fact that the information had left the luncheon.
Trump told TV anchors at lunch today he plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Limbaugh, who was invited to SOTU@PressSec on the news: "I actually have ethics so I’m not going to comment on an off the record lunch"
— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) February 4, 2020
In the effort to track down how this news managed to get out you do not need to look any further than CNN. We covered how Brian Stelter thought that it was deeply offensive that CNN was left off of the guestlist for the luncheon. Brian even went with BREAKING to describe his inability to enjoy a free meal.
Then to show just how petty the network would get over this snub it decided to break the news made at the luncheon it was excluded from attending.
Pre-SOTU anchor lunch conversation "is considered off the record, but CNN was excluded this year, and therefore did not agree to the mandate. Other anchors did attend the lunch." https://t.co/114E4rhOpG
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 4, 2020
So as CNN felt vindictive in this fashion they sowed an even more bitter division between the press and the White House. Already we have seen White House press briefings becoming a memory. There has been the alteration of the tradition of the White House Correspondents Dinner, the rift between the media and Trump leading him to decide to stop attending and rendering it as a far less influential DC event.
The press has also made a spectacle out of boycotting the White House press Christmas party over the years, so President Trump has suspended the event altogether. Now this latest move by CNN is possibly creating another rift in the White House.
On a visit with Tucker Carlson, Stephanie Grisham was discussing the issue.
White House @PressSec Stephanie Grisham tells Tucker Carlson that she's "very, very angry" about leaks from today's off-record anchors' lunch.
"I think this is going to impact any more off the record opportunities in our white house again," she said.
— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) February 5, 2020
When he heard her saying these stern words about the leaks Tucker asked Grisham directly if President Trump were to be in the position to give next year’s State Of The Union would he entertain the press at this luncheon? ”I can’t speak for him, of course, that would be his decision,” she answered, ”but I absolutely will advise against it.”
Well done, Tater. You and your sour crew may have impacted yet another press institution in DC. Certainly, this too will be blamed on his attacks on your right to a free lunch. Maybe Tucker can send over a few dozen more donuts to help ease the pangs.