News & Politics

WH Press Secretary Berates Media For Its 'Lack of Journalistic Curiosity' in Flynn Case

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a briefing in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany nailed the reason why there’s so little national coverage of the machinations of the Justice Department in the Michael Flynn case.

McEnany was asked by CBS News Radio correspondent Steven Portnoy about the president’s comments that people should be jailed for the “very obvious crime” that was committed against Flynn. Her response was as sarcastic as the question.

Fox News:

“You’re an attorney and the president’s spokesperson. Perhaps you could lay out the elements of this crime. What crime was committed and in what way?” Portnoy asked.

“I assume you’re referring to the Obama administration and the unmasking,” McEnany responded.

“What the president calls ‘Obamagate,’ what is it?  What are the elements of that crime?” Portnoy clarified.

“Yeah, I’m really glad you asked because there hasn’t been a lot of journalistic curiosity on this front. And I’m very glad that you asked this question,” the press secretary told Portnoy.

No, there hasn’t been a lot of “journalistic curiosity” in this case, which is standard procedure when a Republican president is in office. The press had a feeding frenzy over Russian “collusion” as their intense curiosity turned to fantasy. Every aspect of prosecutor Robert Mueller’s case was unraveled and the speculation was amazing.

Not so with the Flynn unmasking. There seems to be an indifference to what happened despite the fact that this could be a blockbuster story.

McEnany first began by pointing to the “number of questions” that were raised by the “actions” the Obama administration, listing the Democratic National Committee-funded Steele dossier and its involvement in the FISA warrants that were granted to surveil former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page  as well as the unmasking of Flynn by top Obama officials during the transition period between November 2016 and January 2017.

She then noted the Oval Office meeting that took place just days before Trump’s inauguration between President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who McEnany stressed “learned” about the unmasking from Obama and not from the Justice Department.

“We know that there was a lot of wrongdoing in the case of Michael Flynn. The FBI notes, for instance, that said, ‘Should we,’ quote, ‘get him to lie,’ as they pontificated their strategy,” McEnany continued. “We know that the identity of this three-decade general was leaked to the press — a criminal leak to the press of his identity in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. These are very serious questions. They’ve been ignored by the media for far too long.  And I’m very glad that I think that is the second question that I have fielded on Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, because justice does matter. Those questions, they matter.”

Of course they matter. And they should matter to the media. In this era where media companies are struggling to attract eyeballs, you would think a story like this would be covered wall to wall on the cable nets, with long, penetrating analyses in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Instead, the media has decided the story is a “distraction” from Trump’s failures in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. And the secondary narrative is that the Justice Department has been politicized by Trump and dropping the charges against Flynn was tantamount to destroying the rule of law.

Thirty or forty years ago, the establishment media would have been all over this story. The curiosity of reporters would have compelled them to dig until they got to the bottom.

But curiosity is a matter of ideology and political affiliation now. The media can be curious about some things but not others — depending on whose ox is being gored.

And if it’s a Republican ox, there’s nothing to see, move along.