After Tuesday’s exhausting presidential debate and Wednesday’s 20-minute cage match between Chris Cuomo and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Thursday’s White House press briefing was an unmitigated disaster thanks to meltdowns from reporters demanding President Trump and Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany denounce white supremacist groups on what must be a near-constant basis, regardless of what Trump has said in the past.
Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts went first and asked McEnany “for a definitive and declarative statement without ambiguity or deflection” of Trump “denounc[ing] white supremacism and groups that espouse it, in all their forms.”
McEnany noted that it was answered on Tuesday at the debate and on Wednesday (thanks to a question from Roberts’s wife Kyra Phillips of ABC) and noted three direct instances of when he’s denounced hate during his presidency.
Because she wouldn’t provide another answer that said the same thing, Roberts was incensed that she would dare to “read a bunch of quotes in the past” (that ostensibly don’t mean anything). Afterward, Roberts let viewers know how much he detested being criticized.
As we would see thereafter, the press corps took issue with the President’s use of the pronoun “it” over the last few days in denouncing white supremacy instead of using the actual word. I guess journalists need to rewind to when pronouns were taught in grade school.
CBS White House correspondent Paula Reid was called on second and wondered what the White House “is...doing to combat this threat” of white supremacy (since Antifa must be imaginary in Reid’s world).
But instead of letting McEnany answer, Reid filibustered and lectured (click “expand”):
MCENANY: The President just last week — perhaps you all weren’t covering it — but just last week, expressed his desire to see the KKK prosecuted as domestic terrorists. This President had advocated for the death penalty for a white supremacist, the first federal execution in 17 years. His record on this is unmistakable and it’s shameful that the media refuses to cover it. [TO REID] Yes?
REID: The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security say that racially-motivated violent extremism is one of the most deadly threats in the U.S. Does the White House agree with that assessment and what is it doing to combat this threat?
MCENANY: The President has done quite a bit to combat this threat. First of all, last week, he — in addition to saying he wants to prosecute the KKK as domestic terrorists — he said that lynching should be a national hate crime. Again, I think there’s no stronger signal that you can send than advocating for the execution of a white supremacist, the first time there’s been a federal execution in 17 years. He’s been unmistakable.
REID: Saying you want to do it is different than actually doing it.
MCENANY: He continually condemned it and it is really —
REID: His record on this —
MCENANY: — it’s really —
REID: — to what John’s been talking about, is mixed.
MCENANY: — it — it is —
REID: He’s condemned it.
MCENANY: — it’s not mixed.
REID: He’s equivocated it. At times, he’s said he didn’t want to acknowledge it or address it. His record is very mixed on this issue.
MCENANY: His record is not mixed in the slightest.
REID: His record is mixed.
MCENANY: And when you go back —
REID: His record is very mixed.
MCENANY: — in history, you can see that.
REID: I have his history right here.
MCENANY: When you go back in history, you can see that.
REID: I have his quotes. It’s extremely mixed.
MCENANY: Justin Jackson has praised the President as someone who’s served underserved communities. This President, with Mar-a-Lago, was the first Palm Beach club open to African-Americans and Jews.
REID: But while that’s important, his record —
MCENANY: And in fact —
REID: — is mixed.
MCENANY: — he was — he was praised —
REID: He has not been consistent on the issue —
MCENANY: — he has been —
REID: — of white supremacy.
MCENANY: — entirely consistent.
REID: What has this White House done —
MCENANY: And it is —
REID: — combat —
MCENANY: — shameful —
REID: — what —
MCENANY: — it is quite shameful —
REID: — the FBI says is one of the —
MCENANY: — it is quite shameful —
REID: — deadliest —
MCENANY: — let me speak, Paula.
REID: — threats in this country?
Before moving onto another reporter, McEnany dropped this MOAB:
Paula, we’re not having a debate on a cable news channel right now. You need to let me finish. You need to let me finish cause it’s quite funny that the media goes haywire about interrupting in the debates and then chooses to pursue that very same tactic themselves. This is a White House briefing. You ask a question and give me time to answer.
After a misleading question from Wall Street Journal’s Catherine Lucey about a letter Amy Coney Barrett signed (which, as Lucey wouldn’t mention, stemmed from the discovery of a South Bend grave of aborted babies), the AP’s Jill Colvin lambasted the Trump campaign for holding rallies like this weekend in Wisconsin.
McEnany fired back that “[t]here really seems to be two standards of health in this country” with “[o]ne for Trump supporters or one for everything else” like Black Lives Matter gatherings and cited this insane letter from health experts giving support to packed marches because it’s a political cause they agree with.
McEnany then decided to rumble with CNN White House correspondent and former conservative reporter Kaitlan Collins, who decided to mangle her facts on the timeline from when Trump spoke outside the White House (Wednesday afternoon) and when Republicans spoke out against what he said in the debate (Wednesday morning).
Also, take note of McEnany’s masterful point about the press seeming to not grasp how synonyms work either (click “expand”):
COLLINS: So, the Proud Boys, or people who consider them to be members of this group, give voice to these misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant views. They’re a despicable group by pretty much anyone's standards. So when the President was asked about them and you say he denounced them, that's what you insist he did on the debate stage the other night, if that’s the case, then why are they celebrating what the President said on the debate stage in front of millions of people?
MCENANY: Well, I don't speak for that group, so I’m not sure why you're asking me why they’re saying a certain thing.
COLLINS: But I’m saying if someone denounced you, you probably wouldn’t put it on a t-shirt and made badges of it, right?
MCENANY: The President did denounce them. He was asked will you tell them to stand down he said sure and went onto say —
COLLINS: He said standby, which seems like an instruction.
MCENANY: — he said stand back and then just yesterday, when he was asked, he said specifically stand down, a synonym with stand back and the President said sure when asked by the moderator whether they should stand down. So, again —
COLLINS: No, he said —
MCENANY: — another — it’s really interesting. The media seems to be the only one putting the names of these groups into headlines, into media reporting. He didn't know who the Proud Boys were. The first time I heard of them was in the debate, but the media continues to put these names into circulation and give them a lot of public attention.
COLLINS: But he was given about —
COLLINS: — 12 hours, more than that, since from the debate when he was asked to clarify yesterday and he didn't come out and clarify yesterday. Instead he did what you did when John asked you to unambiguously denounce these groups, you just pointed to past things that you’ve said. You can’t — I just don’t understand why you knew you were going to get these questions and you don’t have a statement ready to just say we do, unambiguously, denounce these views —
MCENANY: Kaitlan —
COLLINS: — and that those are not supporters —
MCENANY: — you know what is —
COLLINS: — that we welcome.
MCENANY: — do you know why people have lost trust in the media? There was a reporter from your network yesterday — your network — in a tweet said —
COLLINS: Why are you bringing that up? I'm asking you a question. I don’t even know what you’re going to bring up that has nothing to do with what I’m asking you —
MCENANY: — I sat here —
COLLINS: — right now.
MCENANY: — I sat here while you lobbed your partisan attack questions, so you will allow me to give an answer. The President and someone from your network said yesterday in a tweet the President dodged a question about white supremacy. That was a tweet from a CNN reporter. The President specifically, verbatim was asked yesterday white supremacy do you denounce them, to which he responded: “I have always denounced any form of that.” Those are the facts and CNN I know that truth is of no moment to your networks but those are the facts.
COLLINS: Those aren’t the facts. Why are Republicans — Republicans are calling on the President to be more forceful, his own party.
In one bizarre, non-white supremacy-related section, Fox News Radio’s John Decker spent just over two minutes berating McEnany over what one could call a mixup or semantics as the President claimed ballots were found in a Wisconsin river (when it was a ditch). To clear that up, here’s a local news report here.
And since the room wasn’t interested in what McEnany had to say, we’ll provide her full closing statement in full (after a question about the Platinum Plan from OANN’s Jenn Pellegrino) (click “expand”):
Again, all of that lost upon the media as they misreport, take out of context, ignore the verbatim words of this President when he denounced white supremacy yesterday, when he denounced it at the debate, when he’s denounced it more than any other President in modern history. And in fact, something else lost upon the media is the absolute turning of a blind eye to Antifa, carrying the water for Democrats, the media apparently agrees with Jerry Nadler that Antifa violence is a myth. In August Senate hearings, Democrats refused to condemn Antifa. Again, no journalistic curiosity here despite that Andy Ngo, who is a victim of Antifa, said Democrats have mastered — Democrats — he should add the media too have mastered the art of making its violence appear innocuous. Their violence isn’t innocuous. Antifa is not an idea. Andy Ngo can tell you that because he was beaten by a group of protesters — Antifa protestors, suffering brain bleed. Another man can tell you this who, in 2019, the victim — his name is Adam Kelly — suffered from a concussion and got 25 staples in his head but still, silence from Democrats, ignoring this group from Democrats.
And in fact, as we just saw recently, there was a Trump supporter who was killed by a 100 percent Antifa man. That is how he described himself. And again, no reporting here but I guess I did the job of the media by getting this information myself. This man, who was 100 percent Antifa, this man, in fact, had been arrested before at 2:00 a.m. on July 5 in a public protest, carrying an illegal weapon. He resisted arrest. He was taken to jail where he was merely given a citation, put back on the streets, and the very next month, this 100 percent Antifa man was lying in wait before he killed an innocent Trump supporter. Ideas do not target police officer. Ideas. burn down buildings. Ideas do not kill innocent Americans. organizations do. And Democrats should condemn the shameful group in the same manner President trump continues to condemn white supremacy.
With this having been a press briefing, there were no commercials to discuss as having sponsored their left-wing propaganda. However, you can still go here to check out the MRC's Conservatives Fight Back page to see many of the advertisers that support the work of ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC.
To see the relevant transcript from October 1's White House Press Briefing, click here for the PDF attachment.