Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace spent nearly five minutes ripping White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Democrat Donna Brazile praised her. She also failed to note a key flaw in Obamagate when the subject came up.
The Fox News Sunday panel discussion began with a clip of McEnany responding to a question about Donald Trump’s authority to “override” governors if they didn’t immediately open houses of worship. She baselessly accused the White House press of “desperately” wanting the houses of worship to stay closed.
Wallace turned to Brazile first. As conservative panelist Jonah Goldberg later said, she was deferential to McEnany
WALLACE: Donna, I spent six years in the White House Briefing Room covering Ronald Reagan. I have to say, I never -- and in the years since, too, I never saw a White House press secretary act like that.
BRAZILE: You know, I -- I know Kayleigh and I -- I think she's an extraordinary person. But this combative -- this -- this -- this posture that she has taken into the job I don't think is the right posture.
I would hope that she could tone it down a little bit. And we all believe that as, not just journalists but as individuals, we should be respected, regardless of where we -- where we sit. And I -- I just thought that that was inappropriate the way she went back, assuming that many of the people sitting in that room did not care about houses of worship. We want to all return back to normal, whatever that means anymore, but we want to do so in a safe way, in a way that don't harm ourselves and -- and those around us.
Next, Wallace turned to McEnany’s handling of “Obamagate” and the Michael Flynn case. Wallace did not mention, however, that Flynn was never masked in the first place. It’s a major blow to the Trump/Fox Obamagate "scandal," yet Brazile said nothing about any of that.
WALLACE: And then, McEnany, who has been in the White House for a few weeks, started lecturing reporters, telling reporters, who have been covering politics for many years, what questions they should be asking, in this case about Michael Flynn.
Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If I write them out in a slide format, maybe we're visual learners and you guys will follow up with journalistic curiosities.
Why was Lieutenant General Michael Flynn unmasked? Not by the intel community entirely, but by Obama's chief of staff, by the former vice president, Joe Biden, by Susan Rice, by the Treasury secretary. I mean this is extraordinary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Jonah, first of all, it's not extraordinary. Unmasking is pretty routine, the effort by people in an administration to find out who a masked American person is. It -- it happens in the -- in the Trump White House. It happened, I think, 16,000 times the year before last. What's -- what's a crime is leaking it. But unmasking isn't.
In addition to which, I have to say that if Kayleigh McEnany had told Sam Donaldson and me what questions we should ask, that would not have gone well, Jonah.
GOLDBERG: Yes, look, I'm -- it's nice to see Donna so deferential to Kayleigh McEnany. I think her behavior is indefensible and grotesque. And I think that what she has done is she has -- you know, the sixth -- there's this cliche in Washington that President Trump wants Roy Cohn as DOJ, as the -- at the head -- as the attorney general. What Donald Trump wants in a press secretary is a Twitter troll who goes on attack, doesn't actually care about doing the job they have and instead wants to impress the -- really an audience of one, and make another part of official Washington another one of these essentially cable news and Twitter gladiatorial arenas. And it's -- it's a sign of the defining of deviancy down in our politics and it's only going to make things worse.
Finally, Wallace turned to conservative Josh Holmes, the former chief of staff for Sen. Mitch McConnell. Predictably, Holmes defended McEnany. But Wallace got in one more swipe before closing the discussion.
WALLACE: Jonah -- Josh, rather. In the time we've got left, you know, the White House press secretary is always a complicated job. They work for the White House but they're paid by taxpayers. They are public officials. And Kayleigh McEnany isn't acting like she is working for the public. She acts like she is what she used to be, which is a spokesperson for the Trump campaign.
HOLMES: Yes, look, Chris, I just disagree. I think Kayleigh's doing a nice job. And what's missing from this conversation that we've had this morning is the context by which she is making these statements. I think the -- any spokesperson in the Trump world, whether it's in the White House or the campaign, find themselves under constant attack by the press. The confrontation nature by which journals approach the questioning is not really to obtain much information so much as to try to back them into the corner. And I think Kayleigh said, I'm not going to play that game. And so, yes, it is completely different than what we've seen from years and years of briefings from press secretaries but I think it's reflective of the nature that we find ourselves in in.
WALLACE: Let me just say, Sam Donaldson and me in the Reagan White House, we were pretty tough on the White House press secretaries and we never had our religious beliefs questioned or were lectured on what we should ask.
You can watch it below, from the May 24, 2020 Fox News Sunday.