UPDATE, 10/5/20, 11:51am ET: Kayleigh McEnany announced on October 5 that she has tested positive for COVID-19, four days after President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and a slew of other Republican heavy-hitters also contracted the illness. President Trump was admitted to Walter Reed hospital on October 2, where he is undergoing steroidal treatment for the illness. McEnany said in her statement, “After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms.
“No reporters, producers, or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit. Moreover, I definitively had no knowledge of Hope Hicks’ diagnosis prior to holding a White House press briefing on Thursday,” she said. “As an essential worker, I have worked diligently to provide needed information to the American People at this time. With my recent positive test, I will begin the quarantine process and will continue working on behalf of the American People remotely.”
UPDATE, 4/24/20, 1:35pm ET: Kayleigh McEnany got a crash course in spinning Donald Trump‘s gaffes, after the president suggested during a Coronavirus Task Force briefing that Americans could treat COVID-19 by ingesting cleaning products. “President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,” McEnany said in an April 24 statement. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
The manufacturer of Lysol was forced to issue a statement of their own on April 24, saying that “under no circumstances should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route). As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information.” Trump told reporters the same day that he was “being sarcastic.”
ORIGINAL: Almost immediately after the Trump administration announced that White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham was exiting her role, they revealed her replacement: Trump reelection campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany. McEnany, 31, is one of President Donald Trump‘s most vocal allies and defenders on television, which seems precisely why hiring her was Mark Meadows‘ first move as incoming Chief of Staff. Here’s what you should know about McEnany, her body of work, and what her hiring means for a president who thinks of himself as his own best press secretary:
1. She’s the Trump 2020 campaign spokeswoman. McEnany has long proved herself as an asset to President Trump. The Harvard Law graduate began voicing her support for Trump during the 2016 presidential primaries, after Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) dropped out. She championed Trump in frequent television appearances as a conservative talking head, as well as during her time at the Republican National Committee. Trump’s reelection campaign hired her in February 2019 to be their spokesperson. She made headlines in February 2020 for repeating a Trump talking point, that COVID-19 would not spread to the United States — two weeks before the World Health Organization declared it a global pandemic. More on that below.
2. She was a CNN contributor turned conservative pundit. Before her work for Trump, McEnany was a successful conservative pundit who frequently appeared on Fox News — and even produced former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s TV show for the network, Huckabee. She later became a CNN talking head who often clashed with anchors like Van Jones over her blind Trump support, abruptly leaving the network in 2017 for a new role — anchoring a series of bizarre pro-Trump online videos that some compared to state-sponsored TV. Recording from the Trump Tower in NYC, McEnany claimed in her first Real News Update video that Trump “created” one million jobs and gave Americans “a raise.” She signed off with “and that’s the real news.”
On the same day Larry Kudlow said coronavirus was “contained” on Feb. 25th, Trump’s campaign spox made an even more bold claim.
“We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here..and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama." pic.twitter.com/O0DDH3Rvkw
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) April 4, 2020
3. She claimed in February that coronavirus “won’t come here.” McEnany was roundly criticized after a February 25 interview, during which she said that COVID-19 wasn’t a threat to the United States. Speaking to Fox Business’ Trish Regan, who was let go from the network for calling coronavirus a “scam,” McEnany said, “This president always puts America first; he will always protect American citizens. We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here. We will not see terrorism come here. And isn’t it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President [Barack] Obama?”
McEnany was, sadly, wrong about the coronavirus’ impact on the nation. As of April 7, nearly 390,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States; almost 12,000 have died after contracting the virus. In New York City, more people have died from COVID-19 than did on 9/11. As one critic put it on Twitter after seeing McEnany’s Trish Regan Primetime interview, “[McEnany’s] the Kellyanne Conway of Stephanie Grishams.”
4. She was also a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee. After her Real News Update debut, McEnany was scooped up by the Republican National Committee in August 2017. She remained the RNC spokesperson until joining the Trump reelection campaign in February 2019.
5. She’s Trump’s fourth press secretary. If history repeats itself, McEnany won’t stay in her position long. She’s preceded by Sean Spicer (January 2017 to July 2017), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (July 2017 to July 2019), and Grisham (July 2019 to April 2020).