Paul Farhi explores press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s tendency to deflect questions with a promise to “get back to” reporters with an answer later—and her habit of breaking that promise. In one briefing last week, Sanders’s used the deflection ten times, on issues ranging from the ban on transgender soldiers to “the White House’s reaction to federal approval of Amazon.com’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market.” Farhi asked Sanders directly about her rate of reply, to which she responded that she gets back to reporters whenever possible. “Asked in a subsequent email if she avoids inconvenient questions by declining to follow up,” Farhi notes, “Sanders didn’t follow up with an answer.”
After investigations by The Stranger and the Los Angeles Times, PEN has rescinded John Smelcer’s nomination for the 2017 Literary Award.
The Washington Post details five itineraries for the National Book Festival next weekend.
Miranda July. Photo: Todd Cole
Miranda July talks to the New Yorker about short stories, marriage, and why everyone assumes that her narrators are autobiographical. “Women writers are often conflated with their narrators—as if we can’t consciously construct fictional worlds from the ground up and can only write diary entries,” she said. “So I think this would be happening anyway, but, from all reports, the fact that I appeared in my first two feature films compounds the problem.”
Neil Brown, Editor and vice president of the Tampa Bay Times, has been named president of the Poynter Institute. During Brown’s eight years at the paper, the Tampa Bay Times has won six Pulitzer Prizes for reporting.
At Electric Literature, Emily O’Neill looks at the resurgence of acrostics in resignation letters from members of the Trump administration. “Elucidating where you stand in relation to Trump, with his shall we say singularly lyric way of regurgitating his own rhetoric, is probably a poetic form unto itself at this point,” she explains. “The resignation letters engage in his game of coded buzzwords, reinforcing and re-contextualizing their own content via their employment of the acrostic.”
At The Atlantic, Rosie Gray examines what Steve Bannon’s return to Breitbart might mean for the Trump administration.
Yashar Ali profiles Kathy Griffin. Since posing with a fake blood–covered Donald Trump mask, Griffin has lost her job hosting the CNN New Year’s Eve broadcast and had numerous US tour dates canceled due to threats. But Ali writes that “moving on doesn’t seem to be on Griffin’s mind,” as evidenced by the poster for her international Laugh Your Head Off tour, in which Griffin wears the same clothing as she did in the Trump photo, but holds a globe instead. “President Trump just pardoned Joe Arpaio, who was essentially running a concentration camp in the Arizona desert,” she told Ali. “He said there are some good Nazis, and he’s kicking out young adults who were brought here as kids by their parents, and I’m the one who has to continue to apologize?”