Shortly before the annual turkey-pardoning ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, journalists assembled in the press briefing room got a surprise visitor: one of the actual Thanksgiving turkeys about to be spared by US president Donald Trump.
The turkey spent about five minutes waddling around the room—five minutes more, ABC News reporter Alex Mallin noted, than White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has spent briefing reporters on camera this month.
In the Obama and Bush administrations, press secretaries spent about an hour fielding questions from the podium on a near-daily basis. The Trump administration has eschewed that tradition. Briefings are short—Sanders’s last appearance at the podium was just 23 minutes—and far less frequent. Sanders’ last press briefing was held on Oct. 29.
Pardoning turkeys, on the other hand—there’s an official duty Trump has embraced with gusto. This year, the president pardoned two turkeys, named Peas and Carrots, at an event that philosopher and animal-rights scholar Peter Singer has called a “totally stupid” annual tradition. (The White House did not specify which bird visited the press room). “I’ve never seen such a beautiful turkey,” Trump said of Peas on Tuesday.
So far in his presidency, Trump has pardoned three turkeys and seven humans. The latter include Dwight and Steven Hammond, whose conviction for arson prompted the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; and Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who refused to comply with a court order to stop illegal racial profiling. Peas and Carrots, as far as we know, had far less checkered backgrounds.