Top House Republican: We Have the Votes to Purge Omar From Committees
Former GOP Rep Demands We Hold Those Who Mocked Paul Pelosi Attack Accountable
Federal Reserve Announces Latest Attempt to Fight Inflation
House Republican Grills CNN’s Jim Sciutto Over Debt Ceiling Questions
Ted Lieu Said the Border Has Always Been a Crisis. Guess What He...
Hey! Where'd All the 'Browns' Go?
WSJ Takes on Biden Admin, Vaccine Makers for 'Deceptive' Booster Campaign
Border Sheriff Says Joe Biden Failed to Respond to Calls For Help Amid...
George Santos Calls Out 'Career Pathological Liar' Biden In Apology, Despite His Own...
Female Athletes Sound the Alarm About Trans Athletes in Women’s Sports
Nikki Haley To Make 2024 Presidential Bid In Next Few Weeks
Appeals Court Upholds Restraining Order on Illinois Gun Control Law
Biden Ramps Up Another Far-Left Obsession by Claiming Climate Change Worse Than 'Nuclear...
College Board Denies DeSantis' Role in Changing 'African-American Studies' AP Course
Transgender Inmate Who Committed Kidnapping, Murder Transferred to Women’s Prison
OPINION

The General Shames the Briefing Room

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

WASHINGTON -- Since retired Gen. John Kelly became White House chief of staff, news outlets have portrayed him as the disciplinarian sent to impose order over an unruly President Donald Trump. Kelly rejects that scenario -- when it comes to taming, he has other fish to fry.

To wit, at Thursday's press briefing, Kelly tongue-lashed the usually feisty White House press corps so relentlessly that in 18 minutes he reduced the usually swaggering scribes and talking heads into shamed silence.

After Kelly slammed reporters for taking a "sacred" moment -- the notification of family when a military member is killed in action -- and turning it into a cable-news chew toy, after he pointed out the thankless toil of the 1 percent of Americans who serve in the military and after he directed members of the media to raise their hands if they knew any Gold Star families, Kelly offered one final salvo.

"We don't look down upon those of you who haven't served," Kelly closed. "In fact, in a way, we're a little bit sorry because you'll never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kind of things our servicemen and women do. Not for any other reason than they love this country."

Kelly's trip to the podium was a rescue mission of sorts designed to extricate Trump from another media mud pit of his own making.

It started Monday when Trump strolled into the Rose Garden with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key player in the GOP effort to pass a tax-cut bill. This summer Trump told the press he was "very disappointed" in McConnell. But Monday, Trump promoted McConnell to longtime friend with whom he is "closer than ever before."

When a reporter asked Trump why he had not commented on four U.S. soldiers recently killed in an ambush in Niger, the president's need to frame himself as better than his predecessors prompted a tortured response. Trump said he had written letters to the soldiers that would be mailed over the weekend, and that he would like to call the families even though "President Obama, and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls."

Politifact rated Trump's statement "misleading." Obama went to Dover Air Force Base to receive the bodies of 18 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and comfort their families in person.

Having backed himself in a corner, Trump phoned the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four killed in Niger. Later, family friend Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who listened in on the call, told the media that Trump cavalierly told the widow that Johnson "knew what he signed up for," but "it still hurts." Johnson's aunt added that Trump was disrespectful.

Trump denied that he said the words Wilson had repeated. At Thursday's briefing, Kelly essentially confirmed Wilson's quote -- although Kelly took strong issue with the suggestion that Trump said anything that did not bestow deserved praise on the slain soldier. Kelly framed the controversy as a new low -- with Wilson going after Trump when the president was trying to do the decent thing.

For the Trump voter base, the episode was a clear win. Kelly set the rules that determined which reporters had the right to ask him questions -- only Gold Star parents or siblings. When no journalist could claim that painful honor, Kelly offered to take questions from reporters who at least knew a Gold Star family. Thus Kelly exposed the White House press corps as a pack of feckless East Coast elites.

Yes, they squirmed because no one could claim a child, brother or sister killed in action.

It doesn't matter that Trump could not raise his hand to that question either. Or that Trump was the beneficiary of five Vietnam-era draft deferments. Or that the controversy erupted because the insecure Trump felt he had to one-up his predecessors in every corner, including making phone calls to grieving families.

So John Kelly bailed him out.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Recommended

Trending on Townhall Video