News & Politics

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Knocks it Out of the Park

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Friday, May 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Officer, we may have just witnessed a murder. Or we may have just witnessed members of the corporate media getting what they richly so deserve. When new White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked if she would like to take back comments she made early in the pandemic stating that President Trump would not allow coronavirus to enter the United States, her answer could not have been more perfect. First, she clarified the context, stating she was referring to the ban on travel from China specifically. Then she went on a short riff.

After turning the question back on the media, including Vox, The Washington Post, The New York Times and NPR regarding their own articles dismissing the coronavirus as a serious threat, she smiled sweetly. Then she walked off the stage. If she had only included CNN it would have been truly perfect. But it was pretty fantastic the way it went.

This is the first press briefing I have watched with McEnany at the podium and it was pretty impressive. She has been acting as a member of the campaign or as a surrogate for some time. It is clear she is well versed in the messaging for the administration. She will also not go beyond the messaging of the president on critical issues, such as the relationship with China.

She was extremely well prepared. An organized binder full of data sat on the podium which she rifled through seamlessly to find the information she needed. The media has been rather predictable, so she did have the luxury of repeating several concepts. You can count on at least one reporter to ask why we don’t have a daily test for every American. Her response was measured and mirrored the endless answers Dr. Deborah Birx has given regarding strategic and sentinel testing.

You can also count on PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor to once again point out that minorities in inner cities are getting hit hardest. While I wish someone would finally explain to her that cities are hardest hit because they are densely populated and this is a highly contagious virus, McEnany’s response was better. She explained the specific funding being given to clinics and hospitals in underserved communities and the mandate given to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to address the issue.

My favorite part was how she handled the whining questions that start, “What will the President do (insert national action)?” and “Why isn’t the President doing (insert national mandate)?” When an unmasked John Karl from ABC News asked McEnany if it was the White House’s position that everyone should be wearing masks, she responded:

We’ve put out it is recommended but that’s the choice of the individual as to whether they wear a mask or not.

When another reporter pushed her on testing in the workplace and if every American had a right to expect it, McEnany said:

Look, each and every state has put into place, this is a governor-led effort first of all. Let me emphasize that. The president has said that governors make the decision as to how to move forward and we encourage them to follow our phased approach.

She talked about the states submitting testing plans to the Task Force that is fulfilling the supplies to run the specified program. Upon a follow-up question that basically asked why governors who were not following the specifics of the phased approach weren’t getting in trouble, her response was pitch-perfect:

We encourage every single governor to follow the guidelines that we’ve put forward to phased reopening approach. We have this beautiful concept called federalism which means the states lead on this. That’s what we’re doing.

Individual freedom and federalism both being reinforced from the podium, from a wonderfully organized, sincere, and well-timed speaker. If this is the way press briefings are going to go from now on, they may become must-watch T.V. for political junkies. The headshot at the end capped it off perfectly.

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