In previous administrations, when it was revealed that press secretaries had delivered false statements from the White House podium, there was more of a reaction and often some soul-searching.
“She is in a credibility bind that in most White Houses would be disqualifying, but probably not in this one,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “No matter how honorable you were coming in, when you sign up as the spokesman for someone who habitually lies, you, by necessity, become a habitual liar.”
In 2003, Scott McClellan, President George W. Bush’s press secretary, told reporters that two senior administration officials, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby Jr., were “not involved” in a leak about Valerie Plame, the C.I.A. operative.
Later, in his memoir, Mr. McClellan delivered a mea culpa, admitting that he had been given false information to disseminate to the press. “I had unknowingly passed along false information,” Mr. McClellan wrote, adding that five of the highest-ranking White House officials, including the president, had misinformed him.
Others have survived accusations that they lied. In 1983, Larry Speakes, a press aide to President Ronald Reagan, told reporters that the notion that the United States would invade Grenada was “preposterous.” The invasion took place the next day, and Mr. Speakes said he learned of it belatedly.
Jay Carney, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, took heat for helping to propagate the president’s message on the Affordable Care Act that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” after it became clear that the administration was unable to deliver on the promise.
But for veteran aides of the Trump White House, the furor over Ms. Sanders’s remark has only added to a bunker mentality shared by aides who feel they are constantly defending themselves, and the president, from unfair attacks.
And on the president’s favorite show, Ms. Sanders had the last word. “James Comey was a disgraced leaker who tried to politicize and undermine the very agency he was supposed to run,” she told Mr. Hannity. “Firing James Comey remains one of the best decisions that the president made.”