Yeah, yeah. Irony remains dead, and so forth. You've probably already heard the latest Trump administration message-botching, but if you missed it: Yes, the State Department's top spokesperson ordered that a reporter's phone line be muted for asking a question she didn't want to be asked, during a telephone briefing. Yes, the State Department retaliated against a reporter for asking an unwanted question during a call they convened to highlight the, sigh, importance of a free press.
Everything about the Trump "administration" continues to clank between incompetence and malevolence, so nobody is allowed to be surprised by any of these stories, at this point. The administration doesn't do irony. Nobody involved in the administration is allowed to know what it means. I refer you to the White House briefing room, if you have questions on that, and to take-your-pick of the multitude of egregious liars and faux-indignant charlatans that cycle behind the podium in sporadic fashion.
Politico brings us the quick summary of this one. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus had summoned reporters for a telephone call convened to chastise four Chinese news outlets as "foreign missions," or essentially foreign propaganda outlets, in a move meant to highlight the administration's intolerance for state meddling in the free press.
When Reuters reporter David Brunnstrom asked whether John Bolton's new book, which claims Trump personally tried to convince Chinese leader Xi Jinping to boost his reelection chances, was resulting in queries from U.S. allies also to what-was-up-with-that, Ortagus told him "that's not what this call is about" and, when Brunnstrom continued: "AT&T, we can mute that line."
This caused reporters to raise eyebrows, Ortagus piped up with the usual feigned indignity at being asked "offensive" questions about press freedoms and Team Trump continues to insist that it's not them with the problem, it's just that the free press keeps asking questions that are stupid and wrong.
You could just not answer the question, you know, in the same manner as administration spokescreatures ignore every other question they are asked. Muting the line was meant to accomplish what, exactly? Shorten the duration of the call by 30 seconds?
So it's just another day for Team Trump. The shambling mound in charge is on the Twitters, threatening to attack people who injure our precious statues and monuments. The State Department's Pompeo and the Defense Department's Barr continue to refuse to appear before the House, on account of all the apparent crimes they insist Congress doesn't have the right to ask about. Meanwhile, the mid-tier functionaries manage to screw up even the most rote administration efforts. Why wouldn't they? Everybody's taking cues from Trump's cabinet, and Trump's cabinet clearly wants everything done as incompetently as possible, all the time.