The MRC's Crush On Kayleigh McEnany
The Media Research Center -- mostly NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck -- spent the past several months gushing over President Trump's final press secretary, cheering every "walk-off" insult-fest and allegedly sick burn of the media.
By Terry Krepel
Indeed, a significant percentage of the MRC's content over the past year was over-the-top gushing over McEnany's walk-offs and her utter contempt for the media that she shares with the MRC.
The MRC rushed to defend McEnany after her very first day on the job on May 1. Two days later, Tim Graham defended her by playing whataboutism, complaining that CNN's Brian Stelter "slammed the first briefing by new press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, playing up AP reporter Jill Colvin’s question asking McEnany to pledge she would never lie. Stelter didn’t ask whether Democrat press secretaries were ever asked if they would lie from the podium, let along assess whether they did."
In a May 8 post, NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck uncritically quoted McEnany touting "the exoneration Michael Flynn got today" -- actually, the former Trump national security adviser was not "exonerated"; the Trump Justice Department simply tried to stop pursuing the federal case against him of lying to the FBI even though Flynn admitted twice under oath to doing exactly that -- gushing that McEnany "ended her passionate defense of Flynn and torching of the Deep State with a quote from Montesquieu and a nod to" a separate MRC post.
Here's a bigger sample of the MRC's slobbering work during the summer by headline, many of which were written by Houck:
Notice that several of those clips focus on CNN in general and Jim Acosta in particular, whom Houck has a pathological hatred of. Also note the juvenile, unprofessional nicknames: "Fake News Jim" (Acosta) and "Fredo" (CNN host Chris Cuomo).
Nevertheless, Graham played whataboutism over the criticism of McEnany, insisting that it was reporters who asked provocative questions, and not her, who were grandstanding, while taking a shot at Politico reporter Ryan Lizza's "live-in girlfriend":
Lizza isn't being honest, because he represents "pure theater" and "negative partisanship" from the other side of the exchange. On May 26, he asked McEnany this beanball question repeatedly: "We're about to cross the 100,000 dead American milestone...on Election Day, what does the White House view the number of dead Americans where you can say that you successfully defeated this pandemic? Is there a number?"
Strange how Graham is apparently scandalized by two reporters living together without benefit of marriage while giving a free pass to a president who paid hush money to porn stars. That's performance art too.
The swooning continues
As the election neared, Houck continued to fanboy all over himself every time McEnany did a press briefing. here's a few headlines to how the swooning has gone since the last time we checked in in the run-up to the election, with more sycophantic odes to her petulant "mic drop" moments:
That last post, on Oct. 1, was filled with more embarrassing gushing from Houck:
After Tuesday’s exhausting presidential debate and Wednesday’s 20-minute cage match between Chris Cuomo and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Thursday’s White House press briefing was an unmitigated disaster thanks to meltdowns from reporters demanding President Trump and Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany denounce white supremacist groups on what must be a near-constant basis, regardless of what Trump has said in the past.
That press conference, however, was the last McEnany held before the election. That meant Houck had to contain himself for a month and a half until Nov. 20, when his fanboying made up for lost time:
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a formal press briefing for the first time in almost two months and, as expected, she didn’t disappoint by opening with a timeline on coronavirus vaccines the liberal media so desperately worked to undermine and ended by smacking down the hurt feelings of liberal reporters like CNN’s Kaitlan Collins after they weren’t called on.
Houck touted her "closing statement," and added: "To be clear, McEnany’s opening statements shouldn’t be undersold either and Friday’s consisted of a thorough timeline in the federal government’s push to find coronavirus vaccine."
Houck had to wait a few more weeks for his next opportunity to gush (and McEnany's next briefing), which he did on Dec. 15, under the headline "Absolutely Fire":
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany opened and closed the press briefing by savaging the liberal media for their behavior regarding on their hopes that a coronavirus vaccine wouldn’t be available in 2020, their purposeful refusal to cover a Chinese spy cozying up to Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and waiting until after the presidential election to both cover and give credence to probes of Hunter Biden’s corrupt business dealings.
The only "Absolutely Fire" we're seeing may be Houck's apparent crush on McEnany -- and his burning hate for Acosta and every other CNN employee.
Houck is clearly going to have a hole in his heart when McEnany leaves the White House.
That earned Houck praise from his idol, who retweeted the item with the message, "You are great! Thanks." Houck probably slept that night with his arms wrapped gently around a printed version of that tweet.
Not once in his many months of swooning over McEnany did Houck even consider the possibility that a White House press secretary's job should be imparting information and not doing performative "smackdowns" and "mic drops."
Neither Houck nor anyone else at the MRC said a word about McEnany's final appearance in the White House briefing room on Jan. 7, in which she performed an extremely awkward "mic drop" by spending less than two minutes reading a prepared statement claiming that Trump denounced the violence, then left the room refusing to take questions.
Double standard on protecting McEnany's honor
The MRC defended McEnany in other ways. Mark Finkelstein ranted in a July 1 NewsBusters post:
On her MSNBC show this afternoon, the sexist Nicolle Wallace slighted Kayleigh McEnany, President Trump's spokesperson, as a "spokesgal."
Would Finkelstein faint if he know that his employer engaged in the very same behavior he's attacking Wallace for? Because it did.
The lead sexist perpetrator here is MRC writer Gabriel Hays, who loves to bandy the word "gals" around to demean women:
He's not the only one, of course. In August 2017, Curtis Houck attacked Wallace as among the "guys and gals ... who loved what Jim Acosta did in treating a poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty like it’s the law of the land."
And Matt Philbin sniffed in an April 30 post attacking those concerned about women being vulnerable to coronavirus: "Women are, by the authors’ admission, more likely to be “essential workers” (70% of healthcare workers are women) and so they haven’t had their livelihoods destroyed. But okay, let’s talk about the plight of gals."
If Finkelstein had the guts to call out Hays and his fellow MRCers doing the same thing he furiously denounced Wallace for doing, he would be a profile in courage. On the other hand, he likely wouldn't be writing for the MRC anymore.