White House press secretary Sean Spicer pushed back against criticism that he patronized a reporter, Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan, when he told her to “stop shaking your head.”
That criticism was made by former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech Tuesday, hours after the exchange between Spicer and Ryan. Clinton said that Spicer had “patronized and cut off” Ryan as she tried to ask a question about scandals facing the White House.
Ryan herself said Tuesday that “I was roadkill today” in Spicer’s defense of the Trump administration.
“April is a tough reporter that knows how to throw it out and take it back,” Spicer told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. “I think it’s frankly demeaning for some folks to say that she can’t take it. We went back and forth. I disagreed with the angle and the way that she was coming at the question, but that’s what we do. We go back and forth, and I don’t treat one person different than the next. I go at her the same way that I would go at Peter Alexander or Jonathan Karl or Glenn Thrush from the New York Times.”
“To suggest that somehow because of her gender or race she’d be treated differently, I think it’s frankly demeaning to her,” he added later. “She’s a tough woman that fights every day to get out there and for her publication and for her audience, to get the questions that she wants answered. And I respect that, I really do.
Spicer took specific issue with Clinton calling his response to Ryan’s question “patronizing.”
“I don’t look and say, ‘Well, I’m going to push back lighter on this person because of their gender,’” he said. “And I think it’s frankly, it’s the exact opposite of what Secretary Clinton went after, and tried to say somehow it’s patronizing. No, in fact, it’s not patronizing. What it is, is treating April Ryan with the same pushback that I would any other reporter in that room.”
On Wednesday morning, Ryan responded further to the exchange, pointing to Spicer’s recent reference to a Politico reporter as an “idiot” as evidence of a trend.
“We are the press who is under attack,” she told CNN’s “New Day.” “We are under attack by this administration. It’s about discrediting credible media. And at this point – I happen to be a black woman, but I’m part of the press. So I guess this is part of a series of two women this week who have been in the news over something with the press secretary.
Watch Spicer and Ryan’s exchange below: