Who is ‘the White House’?

In yet another episode of inside baseball in Washington, Donald Trump’s personal assistant Madeleine Westerhout was abruptly fired yesterday apparently after speaking disparagingly about Trump’s relationships with his family to reporters. You can read what happened here but what interested me was this how Politico treated one aspect of this story.

Madeleine Westerhout, who left her White House job suddenly on Thursday as President Trump’s personal assistant, was fired after bragging to reporters that she had a better relationship with Trump than his own daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany Trump, and that the president did not like being in pictures with Tiffany because he perceived her as overweight.

Trump on Friday confirmed that Westerhout had been dismissed for talking to reporters about his children, calling the comments “a little bit hurtful.”

“It was too bad,” Trump told reporters before leaving the White House for Camp David, adding that Westerhout was a “very good person” who performed her job well. “I wished her well.”

Trump said he would speak by phone with Tiffany when he reached Camp David, disputing that he had ever personally disparaged his daughter.

“I love Tiffany,” he said.

The White House and Westerhout declined to comment.

Just wait a minute there, Politico. If Trump has commented on the story, then who is ‘the White House’ that you sought a comment from but did not get? When reporters assign statements to the White House or the state department or the Pentagon, what I presume is that someone in that body that has the authority to speak on behalf of it did so. If the president has spoken on something, surely that means ‘the White House’ has done so?

I wish reporters would stop talking about these institutions as if they were animate. This is yet another indication of how this whole business of granting anonymity to sources in order to get gossip has gotten so out of hand.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    I’m guessing it’s short for “White House Office of the Press Secretary”. AKA “Whoops”.

  2. Owlmirror says

    I think it may mean “The White House did not respond to requests for comment by the reporter(s) for this organ making this report right now.” That is, Daniel Lippman & Nancy Cook, on behalf of Politico, wrote about statements made by Trump to other reporters, and asked for additional comment from the White House on the statements they wrote about, which additional comment they did not receive.

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