One piece of the tactics White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany uses to foil establishment media attacks on the Trump administration came to light this week as the media marveled at her level of preparedness for the onslaughts that are hallmarks of White House briefings.
The focus on McEnany’s preparation began Thursday when Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst took a picture of McEnany’s hand flipping through a tabbed binder during that day’s briefing.
“White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany flips through the topic headings in her binder during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 16, 2020,” he tweeted.
Of course, the article came with Cillizza’s special brand of spin, so the entry for Russia was analyzed this way: “Not sure if you’ve heard but the President believes Russian interference in the 2016 election designed to help him and hurt Hillary Clinton is a ‘hoax’ — despite the fact that the intelligence community, special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee have all concluded it was very real.”
Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple noted, in between jabs at Trump, that McEnany has “first-rate organizational skills.”
“Don’t underestimate their importance,” he wrote. “At any given briefing, McEnany turns frequently to her impeccably tabulated topic binder.
“It’s not difficult, after all, to anticipate what issues will be of interest to White House reporters. Every day McEnany and her colleagues in the White House communications shop receive emails from correspondents asking about this matter or that matter. The assembled files enable McEnany to pepper her responses with specifics — quotes, statistics, anecdotes, whatever advances her cause.”
Wemple quoted Tom DeFrank, a contributing editor to National Journal who has covered 10 presidential administrations in his career, as marveling at McEnany’s work.
“[M]ost press secretaries routinely come to the podium armed with talking points, opening statements and comebacks for likely questions given the topics of the moment,” DeFrank said.