Apparently, we have another “Yanny or Laurel” situation on our hands—except this one is more uniquely crafted for the deeply divided politics of 2020.
During yet another combative White House press briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany sparred with Al Jazeera English correspondent Kimberly Halkett on issues of foreign election interference and mail-in voting.
McEnany eventually cited a Wall Street Journal op-ed while saying there are “questions about mass mail-out voting,” prompting Halkett to interject. As a result, McEnany lectured the reporter.
“I know you don’t want to hear them, which is why you talk over me, but I encourage you to read the op-ed,” McEnany said.
Halkett then attempted to ask another question, which McEnany waved off, adding that the Al Jazeera reporter had already gotten two questions in.
Halkett then mumbled a quick retort—caught on the hot mic—that sent parts of right-wing Twitter into a frenzy.
Breitbart’s White House correspondent Charlie Spiering tagged Halkett to ask her if she called the press secretary a “bitch.”
“Thanks for asking @charliespiering ... there’s a lot of misreporting out there about that briefing,” she wrote in response. “The answer to your question is, I DID NOT. What I said was, ‘OKAY, YOU DON'T WANT TO ENGAGE.’”
Closer examination of the audio demonstrates that Halkett’s explanation is true.
The Daily Beast reporter Adam Rawnsley clipped the audio, applied a voice isolation filter to it, and slowed it down. Halkett can be clearly heard remarking that McEnany didn’t “want to engage” with her.
After Halkett tweeted her explanation, several conservative media personalities backtracked and acknowledged that the reporter likely didn’t profanely slur the press secretary.
Furthermore, the Washington Examiner deleted its initial tweet of the moment that outright claimed “a reporter appeared to call @PressSec a ‘lying bitch’” and replaced it with a more passive one, claiming “some are saying” Halkett made that comment.
And, finally, in what should be the final word on the subject, the White House official transcript of the press briefing has Halkett as telling McEnany that she doesn't "want to engage" any further.