New White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany received high marks from multiple people who held the job before her following her first briefing on Friday, during which one reporter asked if she would pledge “never to lie” from the podium.
“She did a great job,” said Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary under George W. Bush in the early 2000s.
“There’s two parts about being press secretary as you know: One is substance, the other is style,” Fleischer told fellow Bush press secretary alum Dana Perino on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing” immediately following McEnany’s maiden appearance before the White House media corps.
“It matters how you come across on TV,” he continued. “On the substance, she had facts, she had statistics, and boy is she articulate. On the style, she just was comfortable.”
“You always listen for, is there a hiccup in the voice? Is she nervous? Is there something about being in that room where you think the pressure might get to her? She was cool and calm throughout it all,” Fleischer said.
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
Perino offered a similar glowing assessment, saying, “I thought she did a very good job. Nailed it on many different topics.”
Prior to coming to the White House, McEnany, 31, was the national spokeswoman for President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, a position she took after serving in the same role at the Republican National Committee.
McEnany took over the White House post from Stephanie Grisham, who did not conduct formal media briefings during her tenure of almost a year.
Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders added her voice to those praising McEnany for her first briefing performance.
“Proud of my friend Kayleigh for doing a great job in her first briefing. It’s one of the toughest but most rewarding parts of the job and she handled it with confidence and grace. Well done @PressSec!” Sanders tweeted.
Proud of my friend Kayleigh for doing a great job in her first briefing. It’s one of the toughest but most rewarding parts of the job and she handled it with confidence and grace. Well done @PressSec!
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) May 1, 2020
Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley was also complimentary:
Congratulations @PressSec on a great first press briefing! ❤️🇺🇸
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) May 1, 2020
Christian Broadcasting Network chief political analyst David Brody noted that McEnany was wearing a cross, writing that “her Christian faith is at the center of her life.”
Kayleigh McEnany is wearing a cross necklace front and center at today’s WH Briefing. Very appropriate since her Christian faith is at the center of her life.#kayleighmcenany @realDonaldTrump @PressSec @WhiteHouse pic.twitter.com/FwqHycSmHY
— David Brody (@DavidBrodyCBN) May 1, 2020
Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin, meanwhile, asked McEnany during the briefing, “Will you pledge never to lie to us from that podium?”
“I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” the press secretary quickly answered.
Press Sec. Kayleigh McEnany: “I will never lie to you.” pic.twitter.com/QNSkLkW5I0
— The Hill (@thehill) May 1, 2020
The Heritage Foundation’s Lyndsey Fifield questioned on Twitter if it was normal for a reporter to ask a White House press secretary to make such a pledge.
Townhall editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich sardonically responded, “They do this every time there is a new press sec* *in a Republican administration.”
They do this every time there is a new press sec* *in a Republican administration https://t.co/tajjy98Doe
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) May 1, 2020
The Hill media reporter Joe Concha also indicated only some press secretaries get asked this question.
Associated Press Jill Colvin to new White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: “Will you pledge to never lie to us?”
All new press secretaries dating back to Ron Ziegler have been asked this kind of question on their first day (Narrator: They haven’t).
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) May 1, 2020
Liberal Vox journalist Aaron Rupar encouraged people to “bookmark” McEnany’s pledge.
He later claimed the press secretary was not telling the truth about whether the FBI tried to get former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to lie.
McEnany lies again to close the briefing about what the Michael Flynn FBI notes say. They don’t not indicate that agents tried to get him to lie during an interview. pic.twitter.com/5HEdeeNbxn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 1, 2020
A reporter noted Flynn pleaded guilty.
“Do you not consider it a miscarriage of justice when you have the FBI writing ‘we want to get someone to lie’? Is that a miscarriage of justice?” McEnany asked.
“But in the end he pleaded guilty,” the reporter replied.
“You hesitated because you know what the answer is,” McEnany said.
Unsealed internal FBI documents showed that a top bureau official had questioned if the “goal” in interviewing Flynn in January 2017, just days into the Trump administration, was “to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
“What is our goal?” one of the notes said. “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
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