News & Politics

CNN Correspondent April Ryan Attacks (Threatens?) Sarah Sanders: 'Start Lopping the Heads Off'

CNN Correspondent April Ryan Attacks (Threatens?) Sarah Sanders: 'Start Lopping the Heads Off'
Journalist April Ryan attends the National Board of Review awards gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Last week, CNN White House Correspondent April Ryan said someone has to “start lopping the heads off” of President Donald Trump’s staff, right after she called for Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be fired for lying to the press. When former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) called for Ryan to lose her press credentials, she shot back, saying Huckabee is going to Hell.

“The American people can’t trust her,” Ryan said of Sanders on CNN last week. “She should be let go and she should be fired … When there is a lack of credibility there you have to start and start lopping the heads off.”

Huckabee leapt to his daughter’s defense. “Will the [White House Correspondents Association] revoke April Ryan’s credentials?” the former governor tweeted. “If not, they are gutless tools.”

His tweet included a link to the RedState article, “CNN’s April Ryan Says Sarah Sanders’ Head Should Be ‘Lopped Off'”

“So liberals—is this okay? Does CNN have the integrity to deal w/ this incitement to murder?” Huckabee asked.

Ryan responded with an angry tweetstorm, claiming Huckabee threatened her last year.

“You sir need to sit down. You gave me a veiled threat not long ago. You call yourself a man of God? Boy bye! As your people come for me! My people see you and will do the same for you!” the CNN correspondent tweeted.

“Hey Mike you said I should be gutted like a dear. [sic] Do you remember? Don’t lie! God is watching and I have tape!”

It seems Ryan was referring to the “PieGate” controversy, when Sanders gave Ryan a pie to prove she could in fact bake. Back in November 2017, Huckabee appeared on Fox Business’s Varney & Co, explaining PieGate.

“Stuart, don’t ever — and I mean don’t ever — mess with a Southern woman and her homemade pies,” the former governor told host Stuart Varney. “It is as dangerous as when you hear a Southern woman begin her sentence with ‘bless your heart.’ It means you’re about to be gutted like a deer, you just don’t know it.”

In context, Huckabee was certainly not delivering a veiled threat to April Ryan. He was describing the danger of attacking a southern woman’s cooking. Ryan had attacked Sanders’ cooking ability — she even publicly declared she would not eat the cake Sanders gave her — but Huckabee was talking about the spicy personality of southern woman, not threatening Ryan’s safety.

Then the CNN White House correspondent started musing about Huckabee’s faith, suggesting that the former governor should be tweeting about Jesus’ death on Good Friday, rather than defending his daughter against Ryan.

“By the way you should be celebrating Good Friday or do you even remember Jesus anymore? He would not come down from the cross just to save himself! He decided to die…” she tweeted.

Then Ryan predicted Huckabee would go to hell. “Will you get into heaven? The answer is no.”

“You and your daughter are liars and Why is she getting paid to be press secretary if there are no briefings. Why is she afraid?” Ryan continued.

“As I thank God this day and for his sacrifice as you should be doing, I have a warning for you! If anything happens to me or mine or anyone connected to me, you and your daughter and this administration will be held accountable! So you better stop now!” she tweeted, acting as though Huckabee had incited violence against her.

On Monday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the controversy.

“I have had reporters say a lot of things about me. They’ve said I should be choked. They’ve said I should deserve a lifetime of harassment. I certainly never had anybody say I should be decapitated — this takes us to a new low even for the liberal media,” Sanders told Fox & Friends. “I think it just once again proves why this journalist isn’t taken seriously.”

In response, Ryan accused Sanders of lying about her, but she shared the video proving Sanders right.

Ryan’s “lopping the heads off” was almost certainly metaphorical. She was clearly calling for Sanders to be fired, not decapitated. Yet she used hyperbole to gain attention.

Ryan cannot pretend that she didn’t say what she said. She also cannot twist Huckabee’s words into a call for violence against her.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.