Fox News host Chris Wallace took White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to task on Sunday for her statements that appeared to question the religious beliefs and faith of White House reporters, saying he had never seen behavior like that from a press secretary.
McEnany’s tense interaction with reporters was a topic for discussion on Fox News Sunday, where the longtime host criticized the statements she made suggesting the White House press corps didn’t care about religion or the religious beliefs of Americans. The discussion was in response to an order from President Donald Trump this week telling states to reopen churches, a measure that critics say is unenforceable as governors still have a say over when coronavirus restrictions can be lifted in their states.
When McEnany was asked on Friday what federal power Trump had to issue this order, McEnany said the order would encourage governors to deem churches to be “essential” organizations and went on to say that it was “interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.”
The statement earned pushback at the time, with longtime Reuters reporter Jeff Mason saying he objected to the statement and personally was “dying to go back to church.”
McEnany earned more pushback on Sunday from Wallace, who said in a panel discussion with former Democratic National Committee interim chairperson Donna Brazile that he had never seen behavior like that from the official White House spokesperson.
“Donna, I spent six years in the White House briefing room covering Ronald Reagan. I have to say, I never — and in the years since too, I never saw a White House press secretary act like that,” Wallace said, via The Daily Beast.
Brazile defended McEnany personally, saying that she knows her to be an “extraordinary person,” but said it was not the right posture for a White House press secretary to take.
Wallace also chided McEnany for telling reporters what questions they should be asking, saying it would not have gone over well had she tried that with veteran reporters like himself or Sam Donaldson.
Jonah Goldberg of The Dispatch added that he doesn’t believe Trump is looking for a productive discourse with reporters.
“What Donald Trump wants in a press secretary is a Twitter troll who goes on attack,” Goldberg replied.
“Doesn’t actually care about doing the job they have, and instead wants to impress really an audience of one and make another part of official Washington another one of these essentially cable news and Twitter gladiatorial arenas.”