As much of America was waking Tuesday, "Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy greeted Sarah Sanders, the new White House press secretary, by essentially underscoring the challenges, if not Sisyphean task she has in serving President Trump.
"You know, sometimes the president doesn't need you," Doocy said. "Because he has this smartphone, and apparently there's reception on the second floor of the White House."
Everybody smiled and laughed in the sort of way a family might josh about crazy Uncle Eddie and his drinking at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Yes, sometimes the president doesn't need his chief spokesman.
There was the superficially humorous reality that Sanders faces after replacing Sean Spicer on Friday. But, of course, it's not ultimately all that funny and underscores why press secretary is about the worst job one can have in the Trump White House.
It happened again, shortly after 6 a.m. eastern Tuesday as Trump started tweeting, primarily on alleged Ukrainian involvement in the presidential campaign to assist Hillary Clinton, then a broadside against his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, once again for recusing himself in the investigation into Russia involvement in the camps.
Trump tweeted, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a very weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are emails and DNC server) and intel leakers!"
So, about 90 minutes later, there was Sanders on the front lawn of the White House — "As a woman I'm proud of you," said co-host Ainsley Earhardt, in case one feared any tough grilling was imminent — having to deal with a social media volley that very likely was spontaneous and not vetted by her shop.
Substitute co-host Ed Henry asked her if Trump was "sending a message" that he wants an investigation of Clinton and/or whether he "is telling the Attorney General it's time to go?"
It was the right question, and an essentially impossible one for her to answer, other than as she did, dancing around it and repeating what's been repeated lots of times before: Trump is unhappy with the Russia probe.
The Fox morning show had been a laggard in catching up with the tweets, as CNN and MSNBC quickly picked up on their obvious news value. But now he put the obvious in front of Trump's chief spokesman, who said, "I don't think the president has ever sent mixed messages on how he feels about all of the improper actions the Clintons took and were involved in...and I think he is getting hit every single day on a ridiculous witchhunt that has proved nothing."
As she spoke, a Fox chyron at the bottom of the screen read, "President calls out Atty Gen. Sessions."
Sanders repeated Trump's frustration with Sessions recusing himself from the investigation. As far as dumping him, she was unavoidably short of supportive of the top law enforcer, who gave up a cushy Senate position to work for Trump.
On making a change, she said, "That's a decision if the president wants to make, he certainly will...that frustration hasn't gone away, and I don't think it will." She then pilloried the press — presumably largely Fox's cable news competitors — for their intense focus on the story as she claimed "the media spends 15 times as much times on Russia than the issues Americans care about," namely healthcare, immigration and jobs, she said.
But it sure appeared that blood is in the water when it comes to Sessions' job security, as Doocy segued to questions about Sessions' replacement, as if he were dead meat.
What about Rudy Giuliani, asked Earhardt? Sanders dodged that one, for good reason.
And, then, with vivid hypocrisy, Doocy told Sanders, "The mainstream media has already moved past Jeff Sessions and figured he wants them out."
Of course, Fox doesn't consider itself part of the mainstream, even as it commands the largest cable news audience. And, of course, it had just asked Sanders a bunch of questions, assuming the bell will soon toll for the Sessions years — ah, the Sessions months — at the Justice Department.
It then moved on to healthcare and a possible Senate vote on proceeding with a discussion today on repealing Obamacare. Sanders was surely rather more at least with that line of inquiry during her first full week at her new job.