'Willful Ignorance': CNN Panel Stunned by White House Refusal to Denounce Staffer's Cruel McCain Joke

A CNN panel seemed baffled Friday after Sarah Sanders held the White House press briefing and failed to denounce an aide's uncouth joke about Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) brain cancer.

On Thursday, multiple outlets reported that communications staffer Kelly Sadler said of McCain "he's dying anyway" in a discussion about his opposition to the nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA director. Haspel has been a controversial pick because of her past involvement in the CIA's torture program and destruction of evidence, and McCain faced torture while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"Willful ignorance, I would say, is what we've just witnessed," said anchor Brianna Keilar after Sanders refused to condemn the comment.

"For the life of me, I can't understand," politics analyst Gloria Borger said. "The staffer has admitted she did it, she called Megan McCain to apologize. Yes, it was a leak, but it was accurate. And why the White House can't say: Look, we've spoken to her, we've told her why we think this is inappropriate. We think we need to move on from this, this is not the way anyone in the White House ought to conduct themselves."

She continued: "But by refusing to even say what she said was hurtful, wrong, tasteless — you know, use whatever adjective you want — you sort of extend this story. And of course, the underlying story, which is that the president and Sen. John McCain don't get along."

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