The Washington Post
By Philip Bump
Image courtesy of AP
Hindsight is 20/20, but sometimes foresight has a sharp focus, too.
It was fairly clear a week ago that the White House should have gotten out in front of questions about the deaths of four Special Forces soldiers earlier this month in Niger. The men had been killed on Oct. 4, but there had been almost no word from the White House. No explanation, no condolences — just brief comments from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders including a statement on Oct. 6 that, “We’re continuing to review and look into this.”
By Monday of this week, when President Trump decided to hold an impromptu news conference in the White House Rose Garden, the administration should have been ready for questions on the subject of the soldiers’ deaths. When a reporter raised it, Trump’s response didn’t suggest a great deal of preparation. Instead, he tried to one-up past presidents by claiming that he was going above-and-beyond in calling the families of the soldiers who had been killed.
Trump’s incorrect (and rapidly debunked) assertion that he was doing something that past presidents hadn’t was like dropping a snowball at the top of a mountain. As the week went on — and as Trump and his team kept making more and more mistakes and misstatements — the snowball grew and grew, consuming five days of media attention.