“This is a White House press briefing. You ask a question, you give me time to answer.”
That was Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s reminder to journalists about how press briefings are supposed to go, after today’s briefing quickly devolved thanks to a series of testy exchanges, including one with Fox News host John Roberts.
Thursday’s testy briefing was reminiscent of the first Presidential debate Tuesday night, but McEnany was tasked with both moderating and answering the questions.
(Watch the full press conference here or keep scrolling below)
Opening with a statement on Amy Coney Barrett, McEnany concluded that Judge Barrett is the right choice to serve on the Supreme Court. “Her qualifications are many, her character is unquestionable, her devotion to the constitution and interpreting the law as written is steadfast,” the Press Secretary explained.
Asked whether or not the President was downplaying Barrett’s views on Roe v. Wade by saying the Supreme Court case is not on the ballot, McEnany responded that Trump would never ask a judge to pre-judge a case.
Barrett herself has said if personal convictions ever conflict with her duty under the rule of law, it is never permissible to follow personal convictions.
Under the ‘Ginsburg Rule’ cited by Joe Biden, there are no questions on how a judge will decide any specific cases that may come before her. Late Justice Ginsburg indeed applied that rule throughout the course of her hearing on the first amendment religious clause, and Judge Barrett will likely follow that precedent as well.
But there seemed to be a disregard for both precedent and preceding statements of fact by the media, which chose to fixate on the topic of white supremacy during today’s briefing.
Fox News reporter John Roberts criticized McEnany for not providing a “definitive and unambiguous” statement condemning white supremacy groups like the “Proud Boys.”
McEnany countered with a lengthy list of instances the President has denounced white supremacy, the KKK, and hate groups in all forms.
“He signed a resolution to that effect. Just last week the President expressed his desire to see the KKK prosecuted as domestic terrorists… and advocated for the death penalty for a white supremacist – the first federal execution in seventeen years,” McEnany said, while adding that the President’s record on this is unmistakable and it’s “shameful” that the media refuses to cover it.
Here’s the exchange:
Kayleigh later pointed out on Twitter that Roberts own wife, Kyra Phillips, reported that the President had denounced white supremacists just the day prior.
Roberts then lashed out at Twitter critics later in the day during a live hit on Fox News:
It’s worth noting that while the nation is currently reeling from largely left-wing riots and protesting, calls to denounce anyone rioting in the name of Black Lives Matter or Antifa have been far and few between.
In fact, almost the exact opposite has happened. Over a thousand health experts recently signed a letter saying in regard to protests, “we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for transmission, we support them as vital to the national public health.”
So when one reporter asked why the President is holding rallies this weekend in Wisconsin red zones, McEnany was quick to point out that the First Amendment gives people a right to assemble like they did for the democrat nominee’s rally.
“There seems to be two standards of health in this country: one for Trump supporters and one for everyone else,” McEnany stated.
McEnany reiterated the President’s statements over interruptions by reporters regarding those same statements as “mixed,” and saying that there is a difference between speaking about policy and actually enacting it.
In a reference to Tuesday night’s media coverage, the press secretary took a moment to regain the room’s attention by pointing out the irony. “It’s quite funny that the media goes haywire about interrupting in debates and then chooses to pursue that very same tactic themselves.”
As far as the next debate goes, the Commission of Presidential Debates is considering a change in format. McEnany said the President is in agreement with the idea of a format change, saying he wants a fare exchange in the next debate with a change in moderator.
The next debate is slated for October 15th.