New White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany isn’t letting so-called journalists get away with inane questions in the briefing room at the expense of real news, and the media don’t like it.
This was on full display over the weekend during the latest media-Trump administration go-around, when McEnany sparred with reporters over the Obama administration’s malfeasance with regard to former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
After a contentious exchange about President Donald Trump’s call for governors to allow churches to reopen, one reporter asked McEnany whether Trump has considered pardoning former President Barack Obama for illegal wiretapping, spying, and other potential crimes. McEnany said she had spoken to the president about the Flynn matter but not that particular question. Then things got interesting.
“Who I did speak to about President Obama and unmasking Michael Flynn were the men and women in this room,” McEnany said. “I laid out a series of questions any good journalist would want to answer about why people were unmasked and all sorts of questions, and I just wanted to follow up with you guys on that. Did anyone take it upon themselves to pose any questions about Michael Flynn and unmasking to President Obama’s spokesperson?”
“Oh, not a single journalist has posed that question,” McEnany doubled down.
She proceeded to raise a series of question — on Powerpoint slides because “maybe we’re visual learners and you guys will follow up with journalistic curiosity” — the press should be hammering, given the magnitude of the Russia hoax story and damning new developments regarding Flynn and the Obama White House.
Her questions included why the Obama administration surveilled members of the Trump campaign using oppo research paid for by a political organization; why not only the intel community but also Joe Biden, Susan Rise, and Obama’s chief of staff unmasked Flynn; why Flynn’s identity was criminally leaked to the press; and why James Clapper, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and John Brennan insisted to the public there was evidence of collusion while admitting under oath they had no such evidence.
“Obama’s spokesperson should be asked those questions because President Trump’s spokespeople certainly would be,” McEnany concluded the briefing.
While the American people await answers to these questions in what should be the biggest news story, but is being conveniently dwarfed by coronavirus coverage, Trump opponents in the media consider McEnany’s conduct to be “indefensible and grotesque.”
On “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace,” the anchor insisted he “never saw a White House press secretary act like that.”
Conflating the unmasking of political opponents with unmasking by intelligence investigators for legitimate investigations, Wallace dismissed McEnany’s legitimate point that the media continue to downplay, ignore, or misrepresent. Never mind the other huge question to which the media has failed to dig up an answer: Why was the Obama administration rampantly unmasking members of the president-elect’s team in the first place?
Wallace then lambasted the press secretary for having the audacity to suggest that the press report on this giant looming political scandal, even seeming to delegitimize her for being new to the role while granting unwarranted credibility to reporters based on their seniority.
“McEnany, who has been in the White House for a few weeks, started lecturing reporters — telling reporters — who have been covering politics for many years, what questions they should be asking, in this case about Michael Flynn,” Wallace said.
The commentary by NeverTrumper Jonah Goldberg on what he called “indefensible and grotesque” behavior, however, was most ironic.
“What President Trump wants in a press secretary is a Twitter troll who goes on attack, doesn’t actually care about doing the job they have and instead wants to impress an audience of one,” Goldberg said. “It’s a sign of defining of deviancy down in our politics, and it’s only going to make things worse.”
In true McEnany fashion, this question should be flipped on Goldberg. Should the media not be held accountable for their persistent trolling? Asking how many coronavirus deaths are acceptable, or insinuating the president is racist for identifying the Wuhan virus’s origin or for telling a reporter to ask China her ridiculous question are instances that immediately come to mind. But the examples are endless.
I asked President Trump if he was being selfish for not getting tested and possibly spreading #Coronavirus to others. He said he would “probably” get one.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 13, 2020
What will history books record about this pandemic period in time? pic.twitter.com/RJUTSVeIhq
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 25, 2020
After @weijia asks President Trump why he sees the pandemic response as a "global competition," he tells her: "Maybe that's a question you should ask China. Don't ask me, ask China that question, okay?" https://t.co/9T8aUPjUrs pic.twitter.com/aDQ5cwWvn0
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 11, 2020
“I think what we saw in that exchange with Weijia Jiang is something that has racial overtones.” – @brianstelter on how President Trump reacted to a question posed by an Asian American journalist. “This is part of a pattern of behavior from the President." pic.twitter.com/ktx1HkaNxw
— CNN (@CNN) May 12, 2020
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) April 13, 2020
Video: As many people have already pointed out on here, a reporter actually asked Trump about shutting down essential businesses like grocery stores. Seriously.
Here that was. pic.twitter.com/Eg4uJ9v52G
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) April 6, 2020
Who doesn’t actually care about doing their job: the complicit media that endlessly peddled the Russia collusion hoax and now downplay it, refusing to raise questions that would cut against their narrative? Or the press secretary who refuses to let them get away with it?
Goldberg accuses McEnany of trying to impress only Trump. However, while grandstanding reporters run around seeking to impress each other at the expense of the big story, McEnany is one of the few who cares about the questions on the minds of many Americans to whom the media has been lying since the 2016 election and before.
Also, it's not an "audience of one" concerned about weaponization of intelligence and law enforcement to spread, through criminal leaks, a false and dangerous Russia collusion hoax via a corrupt media. It is millions Americans who care about the republic and rule of law.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) May 25, 2020
It is the responsibility of the press to dig up the truth and report it. They are guilty of pushing a debunked hoax, and instead of learning from their foolishness, they are covering it up, continuing not to ask any relevant questions, and instead pointing a finger at anyone who would dare to expose them for their gross lack of journalistic ethics. The questions McEnany raised demand answers — answers that journalists absolutely refuse to dig up.
If the media is looking for a symbol of “deviancy” in our politics that only “[makes] things worse,” they should stop looking at the press secretary and instead look in the mirror.