Update – 4:20 pm: The White House’s transcript of the briefing confirms the reporter’s account, showing that she said “Okay, you don’t want to engage”, and did not call McEnany the “b” word.
Relationships between the White House Press Corps and press secretaries have been contentious to varying degrees for as long as there have been daily press briefings. But as my RedState colleagues and I have previously documented on numerous occasions, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in particular, has gotten under the skins the credentialed journalists in the briefing room perhaps more so than any other press secretary in recent memory.
Though they won’t admit it, a big reason why McEnany is so disliked among press corps veterans and other reporters is that she comes into the briefings well-prepared to counter the biased narratives they’re trying to promote, and frequently shuts down their pre-established angles. Not only that but if you’ve ever watched more than just a few minutes of the briefings, McEnany maintains good control over how they flow, trying not to let reporters get in more than a few brief questions at a time in order to give others a chance to get theirs in.
It was McEnany’s control of the flow of questions that appeared to set off a reporter she was interacting with during today’s briefing. Kimberly Halkett, the White House correspondent for Al Jazeera English, and McEnany were seen in a brief back and forth in a widely-shared clip on Twitter. McEnany is shown moving on to another reporter and telling Halkett that she’s had her turn at the mic and that it was time for someone else.
What Halkett allegedly said at the end of the exchange is what is in dispute. It sounded like she said “Okay, you’re a lying b*tch.” Watch and listen to what’s said in the background:
Some are saying it sounds like a reporter called @PressSec a "bitch"
Here is audio in question: pic.twitter.com/NNWeCnjGCf
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) July 21, 2020
Breitbart’s White House reporter Charlie Spiering point-blank asked her if that’s what she said while including a video of the comment that was on loop. Watch:
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) July 21, 2020
Halkett denied it, claiming she what she actually said was “Okay, you don’t want to engage”:
Thanks for asking @charliespiering … there's a lot of misreporting out there about that briefing. The answer to your question is, I DID NOT. What I said was, "OKAY, YOU DON'T WANT TO ENGAGE." https://t.co/xmu5YR7gXr
— Kimberly Halkett (@KimberlyHalkett) July 21, 2020
I hear “lying b*tch”, which is what a LOT of other Twitter users thought who posted clips to Twitter after they watched the press briefing:
I broke it down so you can hear it better. Our @PressSec was called a “lying bitch” on live television.
@ 6sec “Ok you’re a lying bitch”
— Kimberly Renée (@kimberlyrenee__) July 21, 2020
— M3thods (@M2Madness) July 21, 2020
This just happened, this reporter called WH Press Secretary Mcenany, a lying bitch. These are the type of people this administration has to put up with and it’s getting old. @POTUS pic.twitter.com/ggGH7o8WCy
— Charles Benedict (@Charles52631252) July 21, 2020
Because I’ve been burned so often in the past in giving reporters the benefit of the doubt, I’m not inclined to give it this time around:
I heard it. We all heard it.
There is no planet on which it is okay to call @PressSec a “f_cking lying bitch” in the press room—and that reporter needs their credentials revoked.
This is the hostility the press treats her with every single day and it's a disgrace.
— Lyndsey Fifield (@lyndseyfifield) July 21, 2020
I could be wrong, though, and opinions on Twitter since Halkett’s denial are mixed. What do you hear?