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WH’s Kayleigh McEnany, Liberal Reporters Go to WAR Over COVID, Woodward Book



With Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic story in tatters and only the Acela corridor-based journalists left to sniff its supposed glory, they needed a new so-called “bombshell” and they got it Wednesday in an except on coronavirus from Bob Woodward’s new book Rage. And with that, White House reporters had a new talking point.

On Wednesday afternoon, they tried (and failed) to browbeat Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany over claims that Trump “lied to the American public” about COVID-19’s threat to America and was therefore complicit in having murdered nearly 200,000 people. And yes, that actually was the narrative these vile hacks peddled.

 

 

CBS’s Paula Reid led off by wondering whether Trump “intentionally misle[d] the American people” on coronavirus and couldn’t dare to allow McEnany to answer her questions before interrupting.

Nonetheless, McEnany schooled her for purposefully excluding Trump’s insistence he didn’t want to incite panic (something the liberal media had no issue or shame in mentally crippling Americans) (click “expand”):

MCENANY: Absolutely not. This President, at a time when you’re facing insurmountable challenges, it’s important to express confidence. It’s important to express calm. 

REID: He’s talking specifically about how you always play it down. Is playing it down – is that – is that expressing calm? It seems dishonest. It seems like a lie.

MCENANY: Can you read the rest of the quote?

REID: That’s how much they put in there. 

MCENANY: Ah, well, you excluded the last part. 

REID: We’ll play the whole thing on 60 Minutes on Sunday.

MCENANY: Please. Please do —

REID: Do you deny —

MCENANY: — explain.

REID: — that he misled the American people about the threat of this —

MCENANY: Of course, I deny —

REID: — pandemic?

MCENANY: — that and he makes clear that he doesn’t want to see chaos, by the way. It’s the second part of the quote, which you failed to read. The President, just days after having this discussion with Bob Woodward, said this, from this podium. On March 30th he said, “I do want them to stay calm. We are doing a great job. If you look at the individual statements, they’re all true. Stay calm. It will go away but it’s important to stay calm.” So, this President does what leaders do — good leaders. It’s stay calm and resolute at a time when you face an insurmountable challenge.

REID: But when you hear this tape, will it now appear that the President lied to the American public about the threat posed by COVID? 

MCENANY: The President has never lied to the American public on COVID. The President’s been very –

REID: [INAUDIBLE]

MCENANY: — the President was expressing calm and his actions reflect that. On January 6th, the CDC issued a Wuhan travel notice before any confirmed U.S. cases among another – a number of other actions and I would refer you to Dr. Fauci who said that: “This President has an impressive response. I can’t imagine under any circumstance that anyone could be doing anything more.” That is the record of this President. 

Speaking less than an hour later, Fauci said on Fox News that he “didn’t get any sense that [Trump] was distorting anything” and “they were always straightforward…and when we would go out” in briefings, “I’d hear him discussing the same sort of things.”

ABC’s Jonathan Karl went next and directly insisted Trump’s public comments versus those to Woodward were “in a direct contradiction.”

Once again, McEnany read directly from Fauci’s initial lack of a concern about the coronavirus in contrast to influenza even though the CDC began taking action with “implementing public health screeners” and “activating an emergency operation center” as House Democrats were focused on the Senate trial to remove Trump from office.

NBC’s Geoff Bennett has ceased being a journalist and instead tried to sound more like CNN’s Jim Acosta; and he certainly achieved it Wednesday by not asking a question but instead giving McEnany his “bottom line” on the Woodward news cycle.

Over the course of his time, Bennett said Trump engaged in “an abject betrayal” of the American people and “lie[d] and “misle[d] the American public about a – about a crisis — that claimed nearly 200,000 American lives.”

McEnany noted Fauci’s repeatedly praised Trump’s response, but Bennett dismissed that and took Woodward’s allegations over the NIH expert’s direct quotes and pivoted back to his talking points.

The AP’s Zeke Miller stood up for China and the WHO by insisting without evidence that the coronavirus was never “an insurmountable problem,” but Trump’s action made it so and thus he should “bear a responsibility” for the millions of cases and almost 200,000 dead.

 

 

Miller also tried to jab Trump for holding rallies in this pandemic, but McEnany came ready by calling out the liberal media’s blatant double standard versus Black Lives Matter protests (click “expand”):

MILLER: And Kayleigh, just – you mentioned the President is very focused on the response there, so why did the President have thousands of people, many not wearing masks at a rally last night in a state that has limited outdoor gatherings to 50 people? Why is he going to Nevada this weekend to hold similar outdoor rallies, gatherings of more people in violation of his administration’s own guidance and of the best advice and counsel of local officials, who he has said should have the final say in these matters?

MCENANY: People have a First Amendment right, if they so choose, to show up and express their political opinion in the form of a peaceful protest, which is what the President held and there’s a real double standard here. CNN had on a guest — apparently, a doctor, Rob Davidson, who said while true there are social distancing issues with regard to the protests we’ve seen around the country. However, this is a public health crisis. They are marching against systemic racism. So, if you’re allowed to march in aggregate in those protests, you’re also allowed to show up at a political rally.

MILLER: [INAUDIBLE]

MCENANY: You also have a First Amendment right in this country.

MILLER: Doesn’t the President have a responsibility to keep people safe?

Things didn’t get any less embarrassing for the press. Bloomberg’s Mario Parker kept alive the image of treating Trump like someone complicit in a murder case: “How can a President bear no responsibility for the 200,000 — almost 200,000 lives lost when he downplayed the virus initially and knew how contagious and deadly it was?”

“The President never downplayed the virus. Once again, the President expressed calm. The President was serious about this. When Democrats were pursuing their sham impeachment, he was expressing calm and he was taking early action, and his actions are reflective of how seriously he took it,” McEnany replied.

After questions from journalists that dared to go against the party line, two more reporters circled back to the issue. One reporter wondered how anyone could say Trump wasn’t “misleading” the country on COVID while another insisted that Bob Woodward received Trump’s “unvarnished opinion” while “the American people [didn’t]” receive it.

McEnany informed the latter that Trump had said in a coronavirus briefing that he was there “to express calm” while also, in McEnany’s words, “acknowledge[ing] that hundreds of thousands could die and he took the right response, which was to temporary shut down the country, save millions of lives, and so too have his therapeutics, so too will the vaccine that’s being developed.”

On April 7, Trump told CBS’s Ben Tracy the following: “You have to understand I’m a cheerleader for this country. I don’t want to create havoc and shock and everything else….But at the same time I’m cheerleading, I’m also closing down a very highly-infected place, specifically the location, as you know, in China, that had the problems.”

While the liberal media gleefully want to peddle what some have called “panic porn,” they’ve spent an entire year in a never-ending rage the President didn’t join them in sending millions into a mental health crisis with long-lasting effects. They haven’t been solely interested in giving the public the facts. Instead, they relish the chance to inject fear.

And as our friend Drew Holden tweeted in reupping one of his indispensable threads: “The #TrumpKnew fiasco very conveniently ignores how wrong everyone was – especially the media – about the coronavirus when it first started.”

Since this was a White House Press Briefing, there weren’t any advertisements. But for those interested in seeing some of the advertisers that support the liberal media bias seen on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC, go here to check out the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.

To see the relevant transcript from September 9’s briefing, click “expand.”

White House Press Briefing
September 9, 2020
1:04 p.m. Eastern

PAULA REID: I’d like to ask you about the Woodward interviews. Did President Trump intentionally mislead the American people about the threat of COVID, a pandemic that has now cost the lives of 200,000 Americans? 

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: Absolutely not. This President, at a time when you’re facing insurmountable challenges, it’s important to express confidence. It’s important to express calm. 

REID: He’s talking specifically about how you always play it down. Is playing it down – is that – is that expressing calm? It seems dishonest. It seems like a lie.

MCENANY: Can you read the rest of the quote?

REID: That’s how much they put in there. 

MCENANY: Ah, well, you excluded the last part. 

REID: We’ll play the whole thing on 60 Minutes on Sunday.

MCENANY: Please. Please do —

REID: Do you deny —

MCENANY: — explain.

REID: — that he misled the American people about the threat of this —

MCENANY: Of course, I deny —

REID: — pandemic?

MCENANY: — that and he makes clear that he doesn’t want to see chaos, by the way. It’s the second part of the quote, which you failed to read. The President, just days after having this discussion with Bob Woodward, said this, from this podium. On March 30th he said, “I do want them to stay calm. We are doing a great job. If you look at the individual statements, they’re all true. Stay calm. It will go away but it’s important to stay calm.” So, this President does what leaders do — good leaders. It’s stay calm and resolute at a time when you face an insurmountable challenge.

REID: But when you hear this tape, will it now appear that the President lied to the American public about the threat posed by COVID? 

MCENANY: The President has never lied to the American public on COVID. The President’s been very –

REID: [INAUDIBLE]

MCENANY: — the President was expressing calm and his actions reflect that. On January 6th, the CDC issued a Wuhan travel notice before any confirmed U.S. cases among another – a number of other actions and I would refer you to Dr. Fauci who said that: “This President has an impressive response. I can’t imagine under any circumstance that anyone could be doing anything more.” That is the record of this President. Jon?

JONATHAN KARL: Kayleigh, how do you — how do you square the President’s words to Woodward when he said: “This is a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff.” And then just two weeks after he told Woodward that, he said: “This is a flu. This is like a flu.” And of course, he also said it was quickly going to zero, but that seems to be in a direct contradiction to what he told Woodward? 

MCENANY: Well, the President was listening to his medical experts because you also had, at the same time period, Dr. Fauci, who said this, asking — asked if the seasonal flu was a bigger concern, he said this on February 17th: “So, right now, at the same time, people are worried about going to a Chinese restaurant. The threat is that we have, in this country, we’re having a pretty bad influenza season, particularly dangerous for our children.” So, he was reflecting that point. Again, days later, in a briefing, he said: “The statements I made are this. I want to keep the country calm.” That is what leader do and that’s what President Trump does. 

KARL: But in that statement, Fauci is not comparing the two. He’s not saying coronavirus was — is like influenza.

MCENANY: He was at a COVID interview and he asked about seasonal flu visa vie COVID saying exactly what the President said. In fact, the President was taking it more seriously because, on the tape, he noted that flu could be worse and he was taking action to address it. Once again, context matters that zero reported COVID cases, the CDC was implementing public health screeners. House Dems were preparing to file their first briefs in impeachment. One reported case, CDC – when there was one reported case, the CDC was activating an emergency operation center while Pelosi was releasing a statement criticizing McConnell over impeachment. On January 31st, the President issued a travel ban on China, one that the former vice president called xenophobic. That’s what Democrats were doing while this President was acting and his actions reflect the seriousness with which he took COVID-19. Yes, Geoff.

GEOFF BENNETT: Kayleigh, you quoted Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci is also apparently on the record saying of President Trump that his attention span is like a minus number and his sole purpose is to get reelected, that’s according to veteran journalist Bob Woodward. The bottom line here is that the President, by his own admission, in private, on the record, acknowledged the depth of this crisis and yet told the American people something very different. How is that, at its core, not an abject betrayal of the public trust? 

MCENANY: The President has always been clear-eyed with the American people. He was always clear-eyed about the lives we could lose. Again, from this podium, he acknowledged this was serious back in March that 100,000, 200,000 lives could be lost. And with regard to Dr. Fauci, you are referring a quote he allegedly told Bob Woodward. And I can give you quotes we could play on loop and video saying the response was impressive. And he can’t imagine anyone under any circumstance doing anything better. Dr. Fauci saying this: “I can just tell you the President, the first and only time I went and said you need to do mitigation strongly, the response was yes, we will do it. The second time I went with Dr. Birx to the President and said 15 days to slow the spread are not enough. We need to go to 30 days. Obviously, there were a lot of people who had problems with that because of potential secondary effects. Nonetheless, the President went with the health recommendation.” So, there’s a long litany of praise from Dr. Fauci and you’re referencing something he allegedly told Bob Woodward. 

BENNETT; It’s on tape. It’s on tape, Kayleigh. What the President said’s on tape.

MCENANY: Well, I’m reading to you what Dr. Fauci has said very publicly for all to see. We can all play those video clips. I can get them in your inbox.

BENNETT: But the President, on February 7th, said it’s deadly stuff about coronavirus, in private, on the record. In public, though, on February 28th he says, “one day, it’s like a miracle. It will disappear.” It’s one thing to as a — as a public figure not to try to incite panic. It’s a very different thing, respectfully, to lie and mislead the American people about a —

MCENANY: No one’s —

BENNETT: — about a crisis —

MCENANY: — no one’s –

BENNETT: — that claimed nearly 200,000 American lives.

MCENANY: — no one’s lying to the American people. One day, COVID will go away. I think we all can hope for that day. We will have a vaccine because of this President tearing through bureaucracy to get a safe and effective vaccine. One day it will go away. That is a fact. It is not inciting fear. This President has expressed calmness from this podium, mobilized the greatest mobilization of the private sector since World War II, got more tests than any country in the world on COVID, a vaccine which, by the way, it’ll be a record for a novel pathogen. The timing of the vaccine, should we get a vaccine by the end of the year or three years, which was the timing for Ebola. This President has done an unprecedented job dealing with COVID. One that Dr. Fauci even acknowledged and, like I said, I would get you that clip to your inbox. Yes.

ZEKE MILLER: Follow up to that, Kayleigh. You mentioned a few minutes ago that this was an insurmountable problem. I mean, I think that’s in quite a bit of dispute. If you look around the world, the United States leads the world in — in confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19. So, doesn’t the President have to bear a responsibility for that record as well as the testing and the vaccine development that you guys are talking about?

MCENANY: No. When you’ve looked at the rest of the world and in particular, the fatality rate in the United States is three percent and the world is 3.3 percent. The U.K., 11 percent. France 8.8 percent Belgium 11.2 – and you can go through the various western world countries that have dealt with COVID and we’ve done a very good job. The case fatality rate notes that and that’s a testament to our therapeutics that the President has navigated.

MILLER: [INAUDIBLE] The U.S. is still – the U.S. is still first per capita.

MCENANY: Case fatality rate is the metric that shows how well our response has done with therapeutics and we are leading the world in having the lowest case fatality rate. It’s a very important metric and one that’s a testament, once again, to a President who ripped through barriers getting Remesidvir convalescent plasma and other very good working therapeutics.

MILLER: And Kayleigh, just – you mentioned the President is very focused on the response there, so why did the President have thousands of people, many not wearing masks at a rally last night in a state that has limited outdoor gatherings to 50 people? Why is he going to Nevada this weekend to hold similar outdoor rallies, gatherings of more people in violation of his administration’s own guidance and of the best advice and counsel of local officials, who he has said should have the final say in these matters?

MCENANY: People have a First Amendment right, if they so choose, to show up and express their political opinion in the form of a peaceful protest, which is what the President held and there’s a real double standard here. CNN had on a guest — apparently, a doctor, Rob Davidson, who said while true there are social distancing issues with regard to the protests we’ve seen around the country. However, this is a public health crisis. They are marching against systemic racism. So, if you’re allowed to march in aggregate in those protests, you’re also allowed to show up at a political rally.

MILLER: [INAUDIBLE]

MCENANY: You also have a First Amendment right in this country.

MILLER: Doesn’t the President have a responsibility to keep people safe?

MCENANY: Mario.

MARIO PARKER: Thank you, Kayleigh. How can a President bear no responsibility for the 200,000 — almost 200,000 lives lost when he downplayed the virus initially and knew how contagious and deadly it was? I don’t understand how that can —

MCENANY: The President never downplayed the virus. Once again, the President expressed calm. The President was serious about this. When Democrats were pursuing their sham impeachment, he was expressing calm and he was taking early action, and his actions are reflective of how seriously he took it.

PARKER: So, does regret the – the tract that he took, the language that he used?

MCENANY: No.

PARKER: You said he used hopeful language. Does – does he regret that given where we are now?

MCENANY: No, this President embodied the American spirit that, when we face a challenge, a crisis, a pandemic, we come together, we can be optimistic. We can be serious about it. We can take it seriously with our actions, which we did, which is exactly what this President does. It’s why we lead the world in testing, doing far more than number two, which is India. He took this seriously, but he still expressed calm. Our food supply chains were at risk that we could not have mass runs on grocery stores. The markets also — the economy was in play here. We didn’t want there to be a huge crash and panic. He expressed calmness from this podium but he has always taken it seriously and the response – an unprecedented response really reflects that. 

(….)

1:18 p.m. Eastern

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just in regar – just following up on the coronavirus issues. How is it not misleading for his advisors to tell him and compare this virus to the Spanish flu of 1918 but then for the President to say that this could disappear by April? 

MCENANY: The President, again, was expressing calm. The President was hopeful that, you know, COVID would — that – that we would be able to handle this to make it go away quickly as possible and the President rose to the occasion and did just that. This was a lot more – by the way, it’s worth mentioning the misleading that the WHO and China did on this. When you have the WHO — they were repeating China’s claim that the virus does not transmit. This was a novel virus no one had seen and you had the World Health Organization saying this virus does not transmit readily. That is information –

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But the President’s own advisers —

MCENANY: — we were getting. You had –

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: — you had Jared, Robert O’Brien said that this virus could be the biggest threat to his presidency. Matt Pottinger agreed with that assessment. And then President Trump would later say that no one could have predicted this when his own experts were predicting this.

MCENANY: Look, you’re referring to the intel community and they – what the President knew was – and I’ve walked you through this before. On January 23rd, the intel community briefed President Trump for the first time about COVID and the briefing said: “Coronavirus from China is poised to spread globally but the good news is it’s not deadly for most people.” This is the information President Trump was getting and the next time he was briefed on it was January 28th when he was told that the spread was happening outside of China and the deaths remained all inside China. He was told then that China is not sharing key data. Indeed, China was not because, as I noted to you, on January 9th, the World Health Organization said it does not readily transmit between people. And on January 14th, the World health organization said no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission. Clearly, that was not true. Even on February 29th [sic] as the virus was spreading, the WHO put political correctness first by opposing travel restrictions. Note that, on January 31st, President Trump put into place those travel restrictions that Democrats called xenophobic. Shame on them. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Thank you, Kayleigh. On the same day the President Trump tweeted that the virus would become weaker when the weather started getting warmer, he told Woodward it was going to be deadly stuff. So why does Bob Woodward get the President’s unvarnished opinion when the American people don’t?

MCENANY: The — he was giving Bob Woodward the same opinion he gave from the podium and he said: “I am here to express calm. That is what a leader does.” He has always shared the facts. He is always been forthright. And he’s always followed the advice of medical experts like Dr. Fauci, who called his response, “impressive.”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: But he never said this was deadly stuff.

MCENANY [TO ANOTHER REPORTER]: Yes?

MCENANY: Yes, he did. He acknowledged that hundreds of thousands could die and he took the right response, which was to temporary shut down the country, save millions of lives, and so too have his therapeutics, so too will the vaccine that’s being developed.



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