Bill Grueskin, a Columbia Journalism School professor, is calling out White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnenay for allegedly “seeking to undermine the credibility not just of individual journalists or outlets but of journalism itself.”
He made his argument in a recent piece published by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR).
“Comes armed to briefings”
McEnany has not been on the job long, just joining the White House in April as the Trump administration’s fourth press secretary, according to Forbes.
She has made it a habit during her first weeks on the job, however, to enforce standards for reporters and point out what she considers hypocrisies on the part of the mainstream media.
It is her response to challenges from White House correspondents that strikes Grueskin as inappropriate.
“When confronted with a tweet or quote that might work to Trump’s disadvantage, she tries to undermine the press rather than to address the substance of the story,” he wrote for CJR.
McEnany inevitably “comes armed to briefings with multiple examples of press failure,” he said, turning White House briefings “into a noxious tit for tat.”
“In command of facts”
Among the most notable examples of this involves her insistence that reporters pay more attention to allegations that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was framed, a story she claimed they had been ignoring.
McEnany has received high praise from some prominent Republicans, though, including Ari Fleischer, who held the same position under the George W. Bush administration.
Congratulations to @PressSec Kayleigh McEnany on her first briefing today. She nailed it. She was in command of facts, and she spoke knowledgeably and comfortably from that podium. It’s important the WH have a sharp, good PS and it’s important to the media as well. Well done.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) May 1, 2020
Even Grueskin acknowledged that McEnany performs the core function of press secretaries, which he defined as selling “the best possible versions of their bosses,” but asserted that her true intention is to “undermine the credibility” of journalism.
Of course, she is just the latest Trump administration spokesperson to face the wrath of media critics. Given her penchant for calling reporters out for their perceived offenses, it is unlikely the criticism will let up anytime soon.