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White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany shot down criticism from Fox News host Chris Wallace for claiming that she was out of line in her responses to reporters during a Friday press conference.
During his “Fox News Sunday” program, Wallace devoted a segment to blast McEnany’s performance, saying her remarks about reporters seemingly not being interested in the reopening of churches around the country shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic were inappropriate.
“I spent six years in the White House Briefing Room covering Ronald Reagan. I have to say, I never, and, in the years since too, I never saw a White House press secretary act like that,” Wallace said.
Later in the segment, Wallace chastised the White House press secretary for “lecturing” veteran political reporters when she read off a list of questions she feels they ought to be asking regarding the scandalous treatment of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn by the Obama administration since most of the outlets they work for have largely ignored it.
“I have to say if Kayleigh McEnany had told Sam Donaldson and me what questions we should ask, that would not have gone well,” Wallace said.
At the time, Donaldson was a White House correspondent for ABC News.
Wallace ended the segment by saying that he and Donaldson “were pretty tough on the White House press secretaries and we never had our religious beliefs questioned or were lectured on what we should ask.”
But McEnany pushed back during an appearance on Monday’s “Fox & Friends” program, noting that reporters and journalists are “not above being questioned.” She also said her admonishment of the press regarding the reopening of churches being pushed by President Trump wasn’t an attack on “religious beliefs.”
“I never questioned the religious beliefs of the press,” McEnany said. “Many of our journalists are great men and women of faith. What I was saying was, I was asked 11 questions as to why churches would be allowed to be reopened. It was a bit peculiar to be asked these 11 questions in a row, and for the onus and the focus solely to be on why churches are essential.
“I’ve never been asked why a liquor store was essential,” she continued. “So I was merely pointing that out.
“And to the point about questioning the journalists and asking why they’re not asking certain questions,” she said. “I field hundreds of questions a day. Journalists are not above being questioned themselves.”
McEnany added that while journalism is “a noble profession,” there has nevertheless “been a dearth of journalists asking the real questions about President Obama, the criminal leak of Michael Flynn’s identity, who leaked that identity, the dossier which was used to launch a three-year investigation into this president and spy on his campaign.
“Why aren’t those questions being asked? It’s journalistic malpractice not to ask those questions, and I can count on one hand the journalists who are,” including Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo and CBS News correspondent Catherine Herridge, a Fox News alum.
During his Sunday program, two of Wallace’s guests – former Bill Clinton campaign adviser and head of the DNC Donna Brazile and Never Trumper ‘conservative’ Jonah Goldberg – piled on and were critical of McEnany’s performance as well.
“I just thought that was inappropriate the way she went back assuming that many of the people sitting in that room did not care about houses of worship. We want to all return back to normal, whatever that means anymore,” Brazile said.
“It’s nice to see Donna so deferential to Kayleigh McEnany,” Goldberg complained. “I think is indefensible and grotesque.”
But Josh Holmes, former chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), came to the press secretary’s defense.
“What’s missing from this whole conversation we’ve had this morning is the context by which she is making these statements,” he said.
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