A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
No, a reporter didn’t call White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany a “lying b**ch” at Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
This is a story that illustrates how quick some factions of the country are to jump to conclusions in order to vilify members of the press.
On Tuesday, some Twitter users accused Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett of muttering on a hot mic that McEnany is a “lying b**ch.” That simply wasn’t true. As Halkett wrote in a tweet, she actually told McEnany, after an exchange, “Okay, you don’t want to engage.”
If you listen to the audio, it’s clear that is what she said. And the White House’s official transcript of the press briefing later quoted her saying that.
The Twitter controversy, however, made its way to Fox News’ highest-rated shows. Tucker Carlson ran with the story, saying, “Did she swear at the White House press secretary? We don’t know.” Uh, yes we do Tucker! She did not. That’s according to *checks notes* the White House’s own transcript.
Nevertheless, Sean Hannity also covered the non-story. He opened his interview with McEnany by leading with the falsehood. Hannity said his staff was torn “50-50” on whether Halkett made the profane remark. Hannity himself said it wasn’t “totally clear” what Halkett said and then asked McEnany for her comment. McEnany said her staff was also torn. But McEnany said she would give Halkett the benefit of the doubt, unlike the reporters covering the White House who she portrayed as dishonest.