- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2017

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump has made significant progress as he nears the one-year anniversary of his election, despite a Congress that is often dysfunctional and a media that is usually hostile to his agenda.

Speaking Monday night at a forum on “Trump’s first year” at George Washington University, Mrs. Sanders pointed to successes like an improving economy and the defeat of the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. She also cited “forward progress” on Mr. Trump’s tax cut plan.

“We are making a lot of progress, maybe not as fast as certainly the president wants and I think not as fast as America wants,” Mrs. Sanders said. “One of the reasons Donald Trump is president is that there is such a frustration” with Washington.

She added, “The biggest negative would be Congress’ inability to do their job. You’ve got a few people that are holding up a lot of progress.”

Mrs. Sanders also said the media is more hostile to Mr. Trump than it was to former President Barack Obama, citing a university study that showed significantly more negative coverage of Mr. Trump.

“I do think there is a greater sense of hostility towards the administration,” she said. d

“For people to pretend like there isn’t a greater sense of hostility toward this administration would be to ignore facts.”

She said the questions from journalists often seem premised on sometimes hateful tone that can be summed up, “You’re a horrible person — please tell us why.”

Some journalists on the panel, sponsored by the White House correspondents association and the university’s school of media and public affairs, said Mr. Trump’s first year has been often chaotic and disruptive.

New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush said he disagreed “profoundly” with Mrs. Sanders‘ claim of media bias, asserting that “nobody hates” the president. He also said Mr. Trump has made feuding with the media “a centerpiece” of his political themes.

“The political press is his omnipresent opponent,” Mr. Thrush said.

He said of Mr. Trump, “This guy’s learning on the job. He had no experience in this.”

Mr. Thrush said the country was “restive, but I don’t think they necessarily wanted it shaken up in this way.”

April Ryan, a White House reporter for American Urban Radio, said has spent time criticizing NFL players for protesting during the national anthem instead of addressing other, more important issues to communities of color, such as funding for historically black colleges.

“When it comes to issues of urban America, the jury’s still out but it doesn’t look good right now,” she said.

Mrs. Sanders pushed back, saying Mr. Trump’s advocacy of school choice is popular in urban communities.

“That’s true,” Ms. Ryan said.

White House correspondent John Roberts of Fox News said Mr. Trump is still grappling with a divided Republican Party on issues such as repealing and replacing Obamacare, a move that has failed twice this year.

“They won three elections on that, and they didn’t get it done,” Mr. Roberts said of the GOP. “Where the rubber met the road, they choked. Then all of these alternative [Republican] candidates start to float to the surface. The Republican Party could end up shooting itself in the foot.”

White House Correspondents Association President Margaret Talev said Mrs. Sanders has instituted a more calm approach with the media than her predecessor, Sean Spicer.

“The temperature is certainly down,” she said.

Ms. Ryan called it “a friendly adversarial relationship.”

Mrs. Sanders, who said her work days can last 15 hours, said her biggest job is to provide “the most accurate information I have at the moment.”

“Somedays I do it better than others,” she said. “Some days it’s less tense than others.”

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