There was a brief uproar on Tuesday evening because some people online thought that Al Jazeera reporter Kimberly Halkett called White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany a “lying bitch” during the daily press briefing. It turned out she didn’t say that at all, but Tucker Carlson devoted a few minutes of his Tuesday night show to the topic nonetheless — and said that even if she didn’t say what she was accused of, it’s “entirely conceivable” that she did.
After playing the clip, Carlson chimed in: “So a huge controversy broke out today over what exactly she said. Many heard a slur. Swearing. Others said no, she said something completely defensible. You can decide for yourself.”
Then “Tucker Carlson Tonight” played the clip again,
This is quite obviously “Ok, you don’t want to engage” and I’m not quite sure how anyone else heard anything else pic.twitter.com/VJxEMU1TZE
– Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) July 21, 2020
In a tweet, Halkett denied the accusation, and said that her actual comment, which you can hear above, was, “Okay, you don’t want to engage.”
Thanks for asking @charliespiering … there’s a lot of misreporting out there about that briefing. The answer to your question is, I DID NOT. What I said was, “OKAY, YOU DON’T WANT TO ENGAGE.” https://t.co/xmu5YR7gXr
– Kimberly Halkett (@KimberlyHalkett) July 21, 2020
After playing the clip, Carlson’s tone changed a bit, as he tried to justify why it might make sense that people thought Halkett called McEnany a “bitch” even though she did not.
“So did she swear at the White House Press Secretary? We don’t know. You can kind of see both sides of that. The point is a lot of people assumed that she did because we’re living in a moment where it’s entirely conceivable that a White House reporter might do that,” Carlson stated, before presenting a hypothetical scenario that would explain why Halkett might curse at McEnany, even though she did not.
“Why would a White House reporter do that? Because creating a moment like that, almost tailor made for social media can transform an unknown blogger into a Twitter star in just a few minutes.”
You can watch this bit of commentary from Tucker here.
Here’s Tucker Carlson saying maybe a reporter swore at Kayleigh McEnany, “you could kinda see both sides to it,” and then says the real controversy is that the press created an environment where people believe that she said it? pic.twitter.com/XydlLpKQxo
– Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) July 22, 2020
After making that comment, Carlson spent the next few minutes sharing examples of reporters getting into it during White House press briefings, going so far as to dig up a clip of CNN’s Jim Acosta arguing with Trump during a briefing in 2018, after which Acosta’s White House press badge was revoked.