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The White House Struggled to Configure the “Listening Only” Feature on a Chaotic Conference Call

White House officials fumbled for 22 minutes before they enabled "listening only."
White House officials fumbled for 22 minutes before they enabled “listening only.”
THOMAS BREGARDIS/AFP/Getty Images

The White House, according to CBS, was once again hamstrung by one of the most banal workplace headaches on Thursday.

The administration’s conference call with the press concerning Iran nuclear deal sanctions reportedly descended into chaos when officials struggled for 22 minutes to configure the “listening only” feature.

CBS published a series of snippets from the dysfunctional call:

“This White House can’t even run a f—ing conference call,” a reporter on an unmuted phone line angrily exclaimed to the entire call. “They don’t know how to mute their line.”

 

“It’s the illegitimate media that doesn’t know how to conduct themselves. They can’t mute their f—ing phones,” an unidentified official said. “Mute your phones.”

 

Another White House official repeatedly attempted to quiet the noisy line “so the people in charge” could talk.

 

“I think if everyone had half a brain and common sense and muted their phones, this wouldn’t be a problem,” she yelled in an apparent fit of frustration.

 

“Hello? Hello?” one reporter interjected, some 15 minutes after the slated start of the call. “Has the call started?”

 

“This is Kim Jong Un calling for Donald Trump,” another reporter joked as tensions flared.

 

“All participants are now in listen-only mode,” the operator finally announced, much to the relief of everyone on the call. The call began at 1:07 p.m.

A State Department official told reporters at the end of the call that members of the administration were unable to take questions due technical difficulties.

CBS notes that the White House has previously been ensnared by such AV issues during calls with the press in the past. In 2016, a man interrupted a background conference call about the Obama’s Iran policy by divulging that his “inflatable doll is a lesbian.”

In May, the din of crying babies, coughing, and the melody of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” drowned out a press call with White House budget director Mick Mulvaney about the government spending bill.

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