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Why did ABC News' Jonathan Karl ask this of Sean Spicer, but not Josh Earnest?


ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl has a reputation for being a pretty solid reporter, but this afternoon at today’s White House press briefing — Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s first — he managed to look like kind of a jackass.

When Spicer called on him, here’s what Karl decided to ask about first:

Before I get to a policy question, just a question about the nature of your job. Is it your intention to always tell the truth from that podium, and will you pledge never to knowingly say something that is not factual?

OK, so first of all, what kind of ridiculous question is that? What did Karl think Spicer would say? No?

Here’s how Spicer responded:

It is. It’s an honor to do this and yes, I believe that we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts. There are certain things that we may not fully understand when we come out, but our intention is never to lie to you, Jonathan. Our job is to make sure that sometimes — and you’re in the same boat — there are times when you guys tweet something out or write a story, and you publish a correction. That doesn’t mean that you were intentionally trying to deceive readers and the American people, does it? And I think that we should be afforded the same opportunity. There are times when we believe something to be true or we get something from an agency, or we act in haste because the information available wasn’t complete, but our desire to communicate with the American people and make sure that you have the most complete story at the time, and so we do it. But again, I think that when you look net-net, we’re gonna do our best every time we can. I’m gonna come out here and tell you the facts as I know them, and if we make a mistake, we’ll do our best to correct it. But I think, as I mentioned the other day, it is a two-way street. There are many mistakes that the media makes all the time. They misreport something, they don’t report something, they get a fact wrong. I don’t think that’s always to turn around and say, OK, you were intentionally lying. I think we all go try to do our best job and do it with a degree of integrity in our respective industries.


That’s a more diplomatic answer than Karl deserved.

The last eight years were kind of a mess, so maybe our memories are fuzzy … but does anyone out there remember Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney, or Josh Earnest being asked to pledge their honesty?

Exit question for Karl — and all of his media colleagues:

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