The White House press corps has been yada yadaing for months now over the fact that there haven’t been daily “traditional” White House press briefings since February 2019. But seeing as how new White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has taken charge of things now that the briefings have returned, some in the media might just be regretting getting what they asked for.
My RedState colleague Bonchie noted yesterday how McEnany smoothly turned the tables on Reuters reporter Jeff Mason after he asked a gotcha question about whether or not she wanted to “take back” what she said back in February on Fox Business about President Trump not allowing the Wuhan coronavirus to come into America. But that wasn’t her only “mic drop” moment.
ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl stepped up to the plate Wednesday to question McEnany as to why the White House had blocked key coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying for the House but okayed him to testify before the Senate.
“Does the White House really believe that you can decide to have officials testify in the Republican-controlled Senate but not testify in the Democratic-controlled House? Doesn’t the House have legitimate oversight and a legitimate, not only responsibility, not just authority, but a responsibility to have somebody like Anthony Fauci testify?” Karl, who is also the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, inquired.
When McEnany answered him by asking if Senate Democrats would be questioning Fauci, Karl acknowledged that they would, but went back to his question about the House. “So you’re saying, so the Senate’s fine, the House has no role in oversight?”
It was then that McEnany went to town:
“The House needs to act in good faith. We don’t have time in the middle of a pandemic for publicity stunts. It’s not the time for that. It’s not the place for that. In the course of three phone calls, you should be able to give the subject matter to ensure it’s the best use of Dr. Fauci’s time. As you yourself noted, in the Republican-controlled Senate, Dr. Fauci will indeed be asked questions by Democrats.”
Watch the exchange below:
.@kayleighmcenany to ABC's Jonathan Karl: "Will Dr. Fauci be questioned by Democrats in that Senate hearing?"
ABC's Karl: "Yes he will be…"@PressSec: "The House needs to act in good faith.We don't have time in the middle of a pandemic for publicity stunts."
Mic drop. pic.twitter.com/vw7AftaZ1p
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) May 6, 2020
Something else to note about that exchange: In the middle of McEnany’s answer where she said “we don’t have time for publicity stunts”, you could hear Karl in the background clutch pearls as he began to state indignantly “this is testimony, not –” -what he was about to say was “not a publicity stunt.” He didn’t stop himself because he realized he was interrupting McEnany (because reporters do that to press secretaries routinely). He stopped himself because it sounded like he was speaking on behalf of Democrats in proclaiming it wasn’t a publicity stunt.
In theory, as an objective journalist he’s not supposed to assume what House Democrats’ motivations are behind calling on Dr. Fauci to testify. Furthermore, he’s not supposed to affirmatively state what they are unless it’s been confirmed one way or the other on the record. And yet he almost gave away the game by nearly speaking on their behalf.
These guys really just make it too easy sometimes. They indict themselves. Daily.