Former WH press secretary Ari Fleischer says KJP’s constant reliance on a ‘big binder’ is telling

Former Bush-era White House press secretary Ari Fleischer took a shot on Wednesday at current press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and her habit of carrying around a binder full of answers with her.

Appearing on Fox News’ “America Reports,” he took the shot after being asked by co-host John Roberts for his thoughts on the binder.

Listen:

“I want to ask you about Karine Jean-Pierre’s big book of answers, or big binder of answers that she brings in to the briefing room with her every day. Who puts that together? Is it her? Is it the policy shop? I don’t know how much of a chance she gets to look at it, because when she goes to it, it’s very often not very convincing what comes out of her mouth,” Roberts said.

Fleischer responded by claiming that back in his day, a binder full of answers was only needed for the first month or so of the job.

“I had a big binder and I used it, if you recall, for maybe the first month I was in office. And then you really don’t need it anymore, and it’s awkward to flip the pages. You know, if you’re in the meetings, you don’t need the big book. If you’re in the meetings, you heard it for yourself, you learned what the president said, and then you have the discretion to go to the podium and know what to say and what not to say,” he replied.

“I don’t know where she gets her information from. But if she has to still rely on a book like that, something tells me she’s not in the meetings, so she doesn’t know, so she has to rely on what other people write for her to say. That’s a really impossible job to fulfill if that’s how the job is set up. You have to be in the room and then you have to be fast on your feet and deal with the White House Press Corps. Easier in a Democratic administration than a Republican. But still, that’s the job,” he added.

Did he have a point? Critics say no. Writing at Mediaite, critic Sarah Rumpf correctly notes that Trump-era White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany used to carry a binder around with her all the time.

“McEnany was appointed press secretary in April 2020, and frequently used a large binder in her briefings well after ‘maybe the first month’ — the time period that Fleischer defined as when it was acceptable to rely on such a reference,” she writes.

“A July 2020 McEnany briefing went viral after a Reuters photographer captured an image of her binder complete with multicolored tabs with labels that included ‘Goya,’ ‘Hate,’ ‘Masks,’ ‘Golf,’ and ‘Lies,'” Rumpf continues.

But counter-critics say there’s a difference. They argue specifically that whereas McEnany used her binder as a simple tool to assist her, Jean-Pierre relies on her binder like it’s an extended part of her body.

For instance, watch as she reads a script verbatim from her binder:

One such counter-critic is Peter Parisi.

“It’s one thing for a press secretary to have notes for reference. It’s quite another to stare down at them and read those notes all but verbatim. Whatever else you could say about Ms. Jean-Pierre’s predecessor, Jen Psaki, she had the Biden administration’s rote talking points down cold and didn’t depend on extensive notes as a crutch,” he wrote for The Washington Times.

Same with McEnany.

There’s also a difference in media treatment. Whereas the media were constantly on McEnany’s tail, they let Jean-Pierre off the hook for virtually everything.

“[N]one of those same talking heads have ridiculed Ms. Jean-Pierre’s dependence on her press briefing binders. Nor have the liberal media (or the late-night TV comics) noted, much less ridiculed, how on four separate occasions in recent months, Ms. Jean-Pierre has mispronounced or mangled words and phrases in the course of her press briefings,” Parisi explains.

Every time Jean-Pierre mispronounces something, spouts an “alternative fact,” or just blatantly lies, the media turn the other cheek.

“One can only imagine how former President Donald Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany would have been pilloried by the White House press corps had she made those sorts of repeated verbal gaffes,” Parisi ponders.

Indeed.

Why isn’t Jean-Pierre targeted similarly? One obvious reason is that she’s a Democrat. The second slightly less obvious reason is that she fits the “woke” prerequisites.

“She is immune from criticism — and from reassignment to a less high-profile post —only because she checks all of the boxes of ‘intersectionality’ as a woman and as the first Black and first LGBTQ White House press secretary,” Parisi explains.

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