What you need to know about new Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

Kayleigh McEnany

Citation Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons  

In Donald Trump’s White House, dishonesty and antagonism toward the press are requirements for the press secretary. And considering those requirements, no one is better suited for the job than former CNN commentator and Trump 2020 campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany.

McEnany has a long history of defending anything Trump says, no matter how brazen the lie may be. She couples that deceit with attacks on any source of information that is not Trump-approved.

Recently, CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski pointed out on Twitter that McEnany said during the February 25 edition of Trish Regan’s now-cancelled Fox Business show, “We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here, we will not see terrorism come here, and isn’t it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama.”

In response, McEnany tweeted that she was just speaking of Trump’s travel ban. McEnany’s appearance on Regan’s show came over a week after public reports that Trump was not doing enough to prevent a pandemic.

Here are some other examples of McEnany spreading misinformation about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19:

  • On March 11, McEnany appeared on Fox Business and said that the campaign was still intending to hold rallies despite concerns about coronavirus. When she was repeatedly told that other campaigns are not holding events and that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had in effect advised against holding rallies, McEnany's responded, “The president is the best authority on this issue.”
  • On March 12, McEnany wrote that “1 million tests have already been distributed, with 4 million distributed by the end of the week.” As of today, the COVID Tracking Project lists 1.95 million total tests done in the United States to date. On March 12, the project tweeted that just 10,000 people had been tested.
  • McEnany misleadingly claimed that Trump’s “White House did NOT eliminate pandemic office.” Here are the facts.
  • McEnany attacked the media for not carrying Trump’s coronavirus events live.
  • A day after Trump repeated lies from Fox’s Sean Hannity about President Barack Obama’s handling of the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, McEnany used the same false comparison.
  • In response to Democrats calling for Trump to do more to protect the country from coronavirus, McEnany wrote a Fox News op-ed on March 1 saying, “President Trump has proven himself the professional – the adult in the room as Democrats act like small children, incapable of stepping up to the task at hand and certainly incapable of leading the nation.”

Here are some other past examples of McEnany’s deceit:

  • In August 2016, McEnany tried and spectacularly failed to defend Trump’s idiotic claim that Obama founded ISIS.
  • McEnany accused Obama of golfing after journalist Daniel Pearl's murder. Pearl was murdered in Pakistan in 2002.
  • When Trump interrupted a phone call with a foreign leader in 2017 to flirt with a female reporter, McEnany told CNN, “The press should be applauding the fact that he's bringing reporters into the Oval Office, calling them out and including them.”
  • McEnany defended Trump’s empty lawsuit against CNN and The Washington Post, accusing the news organizations of knowingly published false information to hurt Trump.
  • McEnany said in March 2018 it was “exactly right” that welfare recipients should feel enough shame to motivate themselves off of government assistance. 
  • When a Trump superfan mailed pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, public figures, and CNN personalities in 2018, McEnany told Fox News that “CNN is culpable” for “driving up this division and this rhetoric.”
  • When the Access Hollywood tape containing audio of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women was released in 2016, McEnany told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Trump’s language “implies consent” because he said, “They let you do it.” 
  • When Trump said in 2016 that if his daughter were sexually harassed at work that she should find a new job, McEnany defended him, saying that it is “the same advice I would give to my sister.”
  • McEnany lied about Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's position on abortion.
  • Appearing in an August 2016 CNN panel with two Black men, McEnany said that the Confederate flag now symbolizes “Southern pride.” 
  • Shortly before the 2016 election, McEnany said Trump “doesn’t want a scenario where there’s New Black Panthers outside with guns, essentially like intimidating people from coming into the polls.” 
  • After McEnany pushed claims about voter fraud in October 2016, the rest of the CNN panel called her out for lying. 
  • McEnany celebrated the Trump administration’s rollback of protections for trans Americans and received a standing ovation at the 2017 CPAC.
  • In February 2017, McEnany pushed the false right-wing trope of men pretending to be trans women in order to attack women. 
  • In September 2016, McEnany said Trump shouldn’t be “goaded” into releasing his tax returns, because “Democrats will use them against him.” 
  • McEnany claimed a month after Trump won the 2016 election that it’s “unfair” to ask Trump to divest from his businesses because that would be “depriving his children of their livelihood.”

McEnany is also comfortable operating in the right-wing media ecosystem, having made over 200 appearances on weekday Fox News programming since August 2017. And she knows to credit them as well: McEnany agreed with Hannity in August 2019 that he was responsible for getting the Trump Department of Justice to investigate the Obama administration.