The degradation of a dysfunctional White House Press office has been readily apparent today as stories circulated of an unexplained emergency that required Vice President Mike Pence to either turn back on an Air Force 2 flight to a New Hampshire campaign event to return to Washington or cancel his trip before he left — depending on which account emanating from the White House you choose to believe.
The mysterious emergency was initially characterized as the reason for Pence’s “emergency callback’ as it was described by Pence spokesperson Randy Gentry.
Sound from Randy Gentry (Representative Of The Office Of the Vice President) on the cancellation of the event due to the @vp being recalled to Washington. @NBC10Boston @NECN #mapoli #fitn pic.twitter.com/lyPng0xdrL
— Sean Colahan (@SeanColahan) July 2, 2019
After this alarming sounding announcement from one of Pence’s press representatives created wild speculation about the exact nature of the emergency, things got even more confusing as a different narrative was issued by another Pence spokesperson, his Press Secretary Alyssa Farah, who contradicted the reports that Pence was already on his way when he had to turn back and who downplayed the seriousness of the still undisclosed matter that motivated the cancelation of his scheduled speech on the opioid crisis.
Something came up that required the @VP to remain in Washington, DC. It’s no cause for alarm. He looks forward to rescheduling the trip to New Hampshire very soon.
— Alyssa Farah (@VPPressSec) July 2, 2019
Any reassurances that there was “no cause for alarm” were offset by the news that Russian President Vladimir Putin was simultaneously meeting with his Defense Minister about what was at that time a still unknown incident and that an emergency meeting of the European Union security council had been called.
New developments in the last few minutes. Detail awaited..
– Air Force 2 has been diverted
– Pence called back to White House for an emergency meeting
– Putin cancels a scheduled event and is to meet defense minister very soon
– Reports of EU security council called for meeting
— ARNAM CAPITAL (@ArnamCapital) July 2, 2019
With all of these stories bouncing around social media simultaneously, Americans speculated wildly as to the nature of the “emergency” that should inspire no alarm.
Some thought that it might be some sort of medical issue suffered by President Trump that required the presence of the Vice President, although the unpopularity of the president was well demonstrated by the hopeful tone of those guesses as to the nature of the emergency.
Others — likely wise to the media manipulation schemes that the administration is prone to initiate — snarkily responded with suggestions that Pence was called back to perform some menial and degrading task for Trump or was about to be notified of his replacement on the 2020 Republican ticket.
45 is out of toilet paper…..
— JenPisces (@jen_pisces) July 2, 2019
Trump pressed the Diet Coke button. It's Pence's turn this week to fetch them.
— ehwilson3 (@ehwilson3) July 2, 2019
Assuming trump hasn't had a stroke (and really, how could we tell if he had), I think Pence is about to be fired as VP/running mate, replaced by Ivanka.
— Cat Shepherd (@petrichor348) July 2, 2019
With still no word from the White House on the nature of the “emergency/no cause for concern,” President Trump was still happily tweeting out about his grandiose Fourth of July VIP fundraiser disguised as a taxpayer-funded “Salute to America” Independence Day celebration rather than offering any explanation or reassurance to a worried public.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2019
Finally, news broke out of Russia that could explain the sudden turn of events this morning as CNN reported on a fire that broke out on a Russian nuclear submarine and killed 14 sailors.
The sub was one of the Russian Navy’s smallest submersible nuclear-powered vessels and was supposedly engaged in “marine research” on the ocean floor in its home country’s territorial waters when the deadly fire broke out, although this type of sub is widely thought to be engaged in espionage activities.
Former CBS News Executive Producer Zev Shalev provided some background on the type of Russian vessel involved in a lengthy Twitter thread.
2. The boat is a nuclear-powered sub Losharik (AS-12). The 2000-ton vessel can carry 25 crew members and can be carried under the belly of a much larger Delta III nuclear sub. pic.twitter.com/5XEoy1IeEV
— Zev Shalev (@ZevShalev) July 2, 2019
If this submarine fire is actually the inspiration for the emergency return of Vice President Pence to Washington DC, it would be understandable.
However, the lack of transparency and responsiveness of the Trump administration at a time when wild rumors were circulating everywhere about what the unknown emergency could possibly be demonstrated just how incompetent and arrogantly indifferent to the public this Republica government truly is.
Do you feel any safer now knowing what the emergency could possibly have been? If you do, it’s no thanks to the Trump administration who have yet to disclose what was really going on.
It makes you long for the days when the White House press office actually felt a responsibility to keep the public informed about important matters facing the country, rather than being a defensive public relations operation for an illegitimate president — as Trump was described by former President Jimmy Carter — that can’t be trusted to tell the truth when it does bother to hold its now infrequent press briefings.
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Original reporting by Darya Tarasova and Tara John at CNN.