‘Well played’: Ric Grenell congratulates Pete Buttigieg while taking shot at left’s shifting goalposts

Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell congratulated Pete Buttigieg for being an openly gay man who has been confirmed as President Joe Biden’s Transportation secretary while at the same time acknowledging the former South Bend mayor wasn’t the first.

That honor belongs to Grenell, who was the first openly gay man to become a Cabinet-level official during the Trump administration.

“Congratulations to @PeteButtigieg on becoming the second openly gay member of a President’s Cabinet. Welcome to the club!” Grenell wrote.

Grenell’s tweet matters because it served as a reminder to many left-leaning political figures and media members who were hailing Buttigieg as being the first.

In December, when Biden first nominated Buttigieg, who ran against him in the Democratic primaries last year, many in the media were quick to claim that he would become the first member of the LGBTQ community to serve in a presidential Cabinet.

“Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will be the first out gay person to be a member of the presidential Cabinet,” LGBTQ Nation reported.

Meanwhile, LGBTQ outlet “Queerty” reported him as being the “first openly gay Cabinet secretary in history,” as did other related outlets.

“It is the most senior intelligence position in the Trump administration and entails overseeing 17 different military and civilian intelligence agencies, including the CIA. In doing so, Grenell, 53, becomes the first openly gay man to hold a cabinet position,” Queerty noted.

In a subsequent article, the outlet would explain that technically, its claim is accurate because Buttigieg would become the first openly gay person to be confirmed by the Senate; Grenell never got to a Senate confirmation process.

“Within minutes of the announcement, Trump supporters were calling Buttigieg’s historic nomination #fakenews. They argued that Richard Grennell was actually the first openly gay person to serve as a member of the presidential Cabinet when he was appointed Acting Director of National Intelligence by Donald Trump earlier this year,” Queerty noted.

“While Trump & Co. love making this claim, there’s always been a caveat that they’ve ignored. Because while Grenell was, indeed, appointed to Trump’s cabinet, he only served in an interim capacity for three months, and he never had a formal Senate hearing because Trump had him jettisoned out the minute it became clear he’d never get confirmed.”

Critics argue that is a distinction without a difference since the position of DNI is a Cabinet-level post.

Media and Democratic political figures nevertheless made the distinction after Buttigieg was confirmed.

“Senate votes to confirm Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary on Tuesday, making him the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary in American history,” CNN’s Jake Tapper wrote.

“Breaking: The Senate has just confirmed Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation. Buttigieg is the first openly gay cabinet secretary to be confirmed by the Senate,” MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin posted.

“Today Mayor Pete became Secretary Pete, as the senate just confirmed @PeteButtigieg to lead the @USDOT-the first openly gay person to serve in a Cabinet. It follows his remarkable race for @POTUS. Just 4 years ago, he lost a bid to be @DNC chair. What a lucky break THAT was!” Axelrod wrote.

Former Fox News and NBC host Megyn Kelly took others to task for moving the goalposts and making the same false claim about Buttigieg’s posting.

“You see @RichardGrenell doesn’t count for some b/c he worked for Trump. Oh wait, er, I mean…it’s bc he was only an ‘acting’ cab. memb. Got it? Except someone should tell the NYT: ‘Mr. Grenell, is also thought to be the first openly gay cabinet member,’” she wrote in response to Lawfare executive editor Susan Hennessey, who tried to argue that Grenell was never confirmed.

Kelly also called out NBC for posting a similarly incorrect statement about Buttigieg, though she then credited her old network for issuing a correction.

Still other online users credited Grenell’s deftness.

“Well played!” one user wrote.

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Jon Dougherty

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