- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The White House and its allies hit back Wednesday at Hillary Clinton and other progressives who accused press secretary Sean Spicer of “patronizing” or even racist behavior toward a black female journalist.

Mr. Spicer told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he was “kind of astonished” by Mrs. Clinton’s criticism of his encounter during Tuesday’s press briefing with April Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks.

“To suggest that somehow because of her gender or race that she be treated differently I think is frankly demeaning to her,” Mr. Spicer said of Ms. Ryan. “She’s a tough woman. April’s a tough reporter.”

In a rare public appearance since her election loss, Mrs. Clinton told a crowd Tuesday night that Ms. Ryan was “patronized and cut off” while trying to ask Mr. Spicer a question.

Even the president may have referred to the treatment of his press secretary, in part, with a comment on Twitter Wednesday morning.

“If the people of our great country could only see how viciously and inaccurately my administration is covered by certain media! -DJT,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Others have gone further than Mrs. Clinton in their criticism of Mr. Spicer. Jason Johnson, a political science professor and commentator for MSNBC, accused Mr. Spicer of racism.

“I think it was offensive. I think it was inappropriate. I think it was racist. I think it was sexist,” Mr. Johnson said.

Conservative activist and panelist Matt Schlapp disagreed strenuously.

“This is not racism,” Mr. Schlapp said.

Mr. Johnson, who is black, retorted, “You don’t get to tell other people what racism is!”

“You don’t, either,” Mr. Schlapp said.

The encounter between Mr. Spicer and Ms. Ryan came after she asked the president’s spokesman how the White House could “revamp its image” in light of continuous reports about the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. Mr. Spicer said the reporter had “an agenda,” and twice urged her to stop shaking her head as he was answering her questions.

Mr. Spicer told Mr. Hewitt that it’s common for him to engage in heated exchanges with journalists.

“That’s what we do. We go back and forth,” he said.

Ms. Ryan told The Washington Post that the encounter was “par for the course, unfortunately.”

“I’ll be back,” she said.

At the press briefing Wednesday, a smiling Mr. Spicer called on Ms. Ryan first.

“Why thank you, Sean,” Ms. Ryan said.

“How are you today?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she said. “And how are you?”

He replied, “Fantastic.”

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