Former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany stretched the limits of irony on Monday night when she mused about potentially getting “access” to the “personal text messages” of New York Times reporters in an effort to show “actual malice” toward former President Donald Trump.
At the top of Monday’s broadcast of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity devoted the bulk of his opening monologue to star New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. After Haberman took aim at Fox in a series of tweets, the network’s media team followed suit with a piece slamming Haberman for supposedly obsessing over Trump—the subject of her beat at the Times—and ignoring President Joe Biden. (The Times responded to Fox’s article by calling Haberman “one of the finest journalists of her generation.”)
After spending several minutes hyperventilating that Haberman was a “Trump stalker” who should return her Pulitzer Prize, the pro-Trump star turned to McEnany—now a Fox News host herself—to jump on the pile-on.
Claiming he was actually “close to pulling the trigger” on suing the Times but has “other things in my life to worry about,” Hannity cheered on a pending lawsuit from right-wing provocateurs James O’Keefe, saying it would mean they’d see emails, text messages, and the “internal workings” of the paper.
“That would be huge, Sean,” McEnany exclaimed. “It was Justice Scalia who pointed out that it’s so hard to win a defamation case against one of these publications because you have to prove actual malice.”
With a straight face, she then added: “Well, I’m pretty sure if you got access to the personal text messages of a New York Times reporter or a Washington Post reporter, you may find that actual malice against you, a conservative, President Trump, James O’Keefe, or others.”
Of course, it was just weeks ago when news broke that Trump’s Justice Department tried to seize the email and text message records of several reporters at The New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN in a hunt for their sources.
But McEnany’s war with irony didn’t end there.
“Here’s the sad truth about the garbage that’s being spewed on the front pages of these two papers in particular,” she said. “The beat of these reporters is not the White House, it’s hatred of Donald Trump, and their currency is leaks.”
“They depend on leaks, and the people who have the worst reputation in conservative circles in Washington and the TV realm are people who do not leak to these papers,” McEnany continued. “There’s a reason for that. They depend on it, thrive on it, and make no mistake, Donald Trump is their motive.”
Leaving aside the fact that Trump and many of his closest acolytes are notorious leakers to the media, it was just this Sunday that The New York Times’ Ben Smith outed Fox News star Tucker Carlson as a frequent anonymous source who loves gossiping to media reporters and is the “go-to guy for sometimes-unflattering stories about Donald J. Trump and for coverage of the internal politics of Fox News.”