UPDATED: The Washington Post’s Double-Standard on Trump and Clinton White House Firings


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UPDATE: The Post amended the original article and added a reference to the Clinton White House firing of an usher in 1993. Read below.

It is always amazing to see how the media bias game is played.

This time? This time the culprit is The Washington Post and this story headlined as follows: “White House fires its chief usher — the first woman in that job.”

The Post — in a blatant example of identity politics and race card playing — says this:

The White House has fired its chief usher, Angella Reid, the first woman and second African American to hold the position.

When the White House residence staff arrived at work Friday morning, they were told that Reid was no longer employed, according to someone with knowledge of the dismissal. A White House official confirmed that Reid is no longer working at the White House.

“We are very grateful for her service and wish her the very best,” the official said.

The job is one that typically involves a long tenure — there have been just nine since the beginning of the 20th century. The White House declined to provide any specifics for the reasons behind Reid's departure.

The article goes on, citing my CNN colleague and friend Douglas Brinkley, as follows:

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor of history at Rice University, said that it is highly unusual for an administration to fire its chief usher, especially without providing any explanation. “If there is a very compelling reason for the dismissal, the White House needs to tell the public” he said. “Otherwise it comes off as cruel.”

“The Trump administration seems worried about Obama’s spies, and there may have been a feeling that she wasn’t on page with the Trumpians,” he said.

The Post story not-so-subtly insinuates that the new President is both racist and anti-woman as proved by this firing. And of course, there is that line that says: “The job is one that typically involves a long tenure…”

So what’s missing from The Post story? That would be any reference to this story re-published in The Orlando Sentinel back in March of …1994. Re-published, that is, from the original source — which is The Washington Post. The headline? “White House Usher Fired Over Calls.”

That Post story began

WASHINGTON — A White House staff member fired last week on the instructions of Hillary Rodham Clinton was dismissed because he had kept up communications with his former employers, George and Barbara Bush.

The White House said Friday that Chris Emery, an usher for the past eight years, was known to have spoken with Barbara Bush several times during the past 14 months, sometimes from the ushers' office. Emery confirmed that he had taken calls from the former first lady but said they were solely related to the lap-top computer on which she is writing her memoirs of White House life.

“That may seem harmless, for all intents and purposes,” said Neel Lattimore, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, “but it also shows an amazing lack of discretion.”

“We believe the position that he had, as a member of the residence staff, requires the utmost respect for the first family's privacy,” Lattimore said. 

“It's an extremely sensitive position, as you can imagine. This is the president's house and Mrs. Clinton's and Chelsea’s.”

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Now. Note carefully how this works. First, there is no reference in the recent Post story to the fact that Hillary Clinton had a White House usher fired. No, Chris Emery was not the chief usher, as is the current case with Angella Reid. But whether “Chief Usher” or simply an “usher” the fact is both jobs are usually long-term propositions. Presidents of both parties come and  go, the ushers and the domestic White House staff remains. 

Not only is this not true of Reid, it was not true of Emery. And there are the tell-tale hints that the dismissals were for the exact same reason. As Doug Brinkley indicates, there may have been a perception of disloyalty to the Trumps from someone seen as an “Obama spy.” 

This was exactly the reasoning of Hillary Clinton when she fired Chris Emery. Because Emery had done the seemingly innocuous — helped Barbara Bush with a computer problem — Mrs. Clinton took affront. Emery was perceived instantly to be a Bush spy — and Mrs. Clinton would have none of it.

Yet there is no reference to the Clinton usher firing story to give context to the Trump usher firing story. But what is there is identity politics — race and gender card playing. The Post — in its very first sentence — plays the race and the gender card both, identifying Reid not simply as the Chief Usher but as “the first woman and second African American to hold the position.” 

When the story revolved around the Clinton firing of Emery there was no reference to Emery’s race (he is white) or his ethnic background (English? German? Norman? French? Other?). The Post story does not enlighten. 

Firings of this sort, while indeed rare, do happen. History tells the tale of longtime White House housekeeper recorded by Harry Truman’s daughter as simply “Mrs. Nesbitt.” The latter had held the job for years and was a particular favorite of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. It was Mrs. Nesbitt’s task, among other things, to plan the First Family’s menus in consultation with the First Lady. Thrust in to the presidency at the sudden death of President Roosevelt, it quickly became clear Harry Truman was not FDR. 

When it came to dinner, the new president had a particular distaste for brussels sprouts — which Mrs. Nesbitt regularly served as they were an  Eleanor Roosevelt favorite. The request was made by new First Lady Bess Truman and daughter Margaret to stop because, well, President Truman hated them. Mrs. Nesbitt believed they were good for everybody, presidents included, and the brussels sprouts kept coming. Barely a month after the Truman’s moved in to the White House, the staff learned Mrs. Nesbitt was out after one brussels sprout too many.

Whether Mrs. Nesbitt’s firing was recorded in the newspapers of the day is not revealed by Margaret Truman in her biography of mother Bess. But certainly it seems hardly unusual or unfair. The staff is there, of course, to serve the President and the First Family. Period — full stop.

Yet there is The Washington Post taking a simple domestic staff matter in the new Trump White House and presenting it to readers as some sort of stand-alone example of racism/genderism that — unsubtle hint — reflects the supposed racist/sexist streak of the new President himself. With zero context involved in the form of the tale of Hillary Clinton’s firing of Chris Emery for suspected disloyalty. And certainly there was no reference in The Post’s Emery story in 1994 to either Emery’s race or gender.

Which, in its own way, tells a reader everything they need to know about the workings of the liberal media mind.

Pass the brussels sprouts.


The following paragraph has been added to the Post story, making reference to the Chris Emery firing. While accurately summarizing the reason for Emery’s firing – phone calls to Barbara Bush – there is still no reference to Emery’s name, race, gender or ethnicity as is true in the case involving Angella Reid:

Sudden dismissals from the White House’s permanent staff are rare. The last one that people interviewed for this story recall was in 1993, when the Clintons fired an assistant usher who had a friendly phone conversation with Barbara Bush that was thought to be inappropriate.