I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a White House Press Secretary for a Republican president. Not only do you have to deal with the repetitive questions that all press secretaries deal with, but you also have to handle the gotcha questions that the media use to try to trip up GOP politicians.
In only her second press conference as Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany found herself at the receiving end of a gotcha question. A reporter asked her a question about a statement she made on Fox Business in February:
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked about a comment she made on Feb. 25 on Fox Business Channel, in which she said that because of President Donald Trump, “we will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here.”
At the time, McEnany was working for the Trump campaign as national press secretary.
On Wednesday, Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason asked her whether she would take the comment back, given what has happened since then.But McEnany tried to turn the tables on the media, suggesting that a number of outlets also downplayed the threat of the coronavirus.
McEnany’s response was brilliant. Check it out:
She responded to the question with, “I guess I would turn the question back on the media, and ask similar questions. Does Vox want to take back that they proclaimed the coronavirus would not be a deadly pandemic? Does The Washington Post want to take back that they told Americans to get a grip, the flu is bigger than the coronavirus. Does The Washington Post likewise want to take back that our brains are causing us to exaggerate the threat of the coronavirus. Does The New York Times want to take back that fear of the virus may be spreading faster than the virus itself. Does NPR want to take back that the flu was a much bigger threat than the coronavirus? And finally, once again The Washington Post, would they like to take back that the government should not respond aggressively to the coronavirus.”
And with that, she ended the press briefing.
Here’s the thing: a lot of people got a lot of things wrong about COVID-19, but we don’t see the media going after every single person who downplayed or dismissed the threat of the coronavirus. If McEnany should be expected to “take back” something she said over two months ago, so should all the media outlets she mentioned.
The press tried to make McEnany the story, and she turned the tables. More power to her.