Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany criticizes the media’s response to violations of social distancing. Ava DeSantis reports on all the details of today's White House press briefing. 

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany began today’s press conference calling for unity in the response to police and civilian victims of recent violence. McEnany began: “there are no sides here. This is about America coming together. This is about human decency and this is about justice.”

Emphasizing loss on both sides, McEnany compared the deaths of police officers to victims of police brutality. “I have sat across from a police officer family that lost their loved one, I saw a little girl named Charlie, who will forever be without a father…But yesterday I sat across from families who lost their loved ones…It was a real tragedy,” McEnany described. She was referring to a meeting of President Trump and the family of Ahmaud Arbery, which was described as “very contentious” by a spokesperson for the Ahmaud family’s attorney.

Defends executive order, criticizes Democratic legislation 

Yesterday, flanked by police officers, President Trump signed an executive order which instates modest police reforms. The executive order establishes a database of police officers with long histories of misconduct and gives departments financial incentives to adopt best practices and allow co-responders to join police in action. 

The order was criticized by opponents of the Administration. Most notably, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the order “falls sadly and seriously short of what is required to combat the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality that is murdering hundreds of Black Americans.”

McEnany accused Democratic Congressional leadership of “[offering] nothing except a lot of bad ideas.

McEnany defended the order. “A lot of people want to make it about race,” she said, “but it’s about communities and individuals.” The Administration can help these communities by “[incentivizing] good behavior and fair practices,” and increasing access to economic opportunity in vulnerable communities, McEnany argued.

McEnany accused Democratic Congressional leadership of “[offering] nothing except a lot of bad ideas about this.” The Democratic Justice in Policing Act, which was introduced on Monday, would ultimately “defund the police department,” she claimed. Pelosi explicitly contradicted this accusation on Monday, saying “this isn’t about” relocating police funds.

When asked about the Democratic plan to get rid of “qualified immunity,” which protects law enforcement officers from being sued over alleged violations of civil rights, McEnany said, “by removing qualified immunity, what you’re essentially doing is not allowing the police to do their job.” If the bill passes, “there would be a decrease in policing in this country,” McEnany claimed, “our streets would not be safe.”

On Tulsa Rally and media response

McEnany addressed the controversy over Trump’s Rally in Tulsa, scheduled for this Saturday. She assured the press “the campaign has taken certain measures on, to make sure this is a safe rally.” These measures will include temperature checks, hand sanitizers, and masks being offered to attendees. These precautions, however, will be voluntary. McEnany said “[attendees] will be given a mask,” and it is “the personal choice of individuals as to what to do.” The personal choice of individuals to assume risks is just “part of life.”

McEnany abruptly changed her tone, accusing journalists of selectively addressing health concerns when covering Trump rallies, but not the widespread Black Lives Matter protests occurring across the country.

McEnany abruptly changed her tone, accusing journalists of selectively addressing health concerns when covering Trump rallies, but not the widespread Black Lives Matter protests occurring across the country. McEnany argued “I believe that the media needs to work on internal coherence,” citing a New York Post editorial board op-ed which compared images of the two events with the caption ‘SICK HYPOCRISY.’ McEnany lauded the story as “wonderful.”

NBC News, McEnany said, “tweets at 4 or 5 am, ‘On June 14th rally for Black Trans Lives draws packed crowds…’” in seemingly “lauding” coverage of the protests. She compared this coverage to a tweet from the same media outlet, which mentioned health experts questioning the President’s decision to hold the Tulsa rally.

McEnany: We rally in support of the President…We rally because HBCU funding for historically black colleges and universities is permanent. Because of President Trump’s reform, we rally. 

McEnany claims these tweets reveal a logical inconsistency in media coverage of the events. Responding to a journalist who pointed out the distinction between a protest demanding specific action, and a rally, McEnany said defensively “we do the rally in support of something.”

“We rally in support of the President…We rally because HBCU funding for historically black colleges and universities is permanent. Because of President Trump’s reform, we rally,” she continued. 

CDC health recommendations regarding COVID-19 currently advise citizens to host events outside, when possible, or increase ventilation in an indoor area where people are gathering. Asked if the White House recognized a difference in risk level between outdoor and indoor events, McEnany responded “it’s our position that the media should not be making decisions about their guidelines to us about social distancing based on political ideology.” When a new journalist requested clarification on this question, McEnany refused, saying “this is probably question number ten on rallies, while we appreciate the great concern for rally-goers, you should exhibit the same concern for the protestors who are out there, who are not social distancing in many cases.”

Ending the half-hour event, McEnany held up the New York Post headline again and said to the audience of journalists “Thank you all very much. I hope you have a great rest of the day. And I hope we start seeing more consistent headlines.”

Ava DeSantis

Ava DeSantis is Gen Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today. She has a background in political science and history at George Washington University.