The New York Times and the Washington Post should give up their journalistic accolades for selling rumors as scoops, the White House’s Kayleigh McEnany said, pointing at holes in their story about Russian bounties for the Taliban.
The secretary has unleashed a scathing rebuke at the media, accusing the Times and the WaPo of peddling scandalous speculations about US President Donald Trump allegedly doing nothing after having been briefed about Russia paying the Taliban to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Speaking at the White House on Monday, McEnany said that her boss had never received a briefing on the issue in the first place.
“While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA director, NSA and chief of staff can all confirm that neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence,” she said.
Those who sift through intelligence before it can be communicated to the commander-in-chief apparently found the ‘bountygate’ rumors less than credible, according to McEnany, who has repeatedly said that the president “is briefed on verified intelligence” only.
She also pointed out that the intelligence community did not come to a consensus on the matter.
There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations, and in fact there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community.
The premise of the story – that Russia was paying ‘bounties’ for Taliban fighters to kill US troops – has been dismissed by the Kremlin as fake news aimed at stalling the US troops’ withdrawal – the idea of such a pullout has long been touted by Trump.
After shredding the latest bombshell from the Times and the WaPo as a misfire based on dubious sources, McEnany tore into the Times’ previous reporting, which saw them zealously promote the now debunked Russia collusion theory, including by falsely claiming that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort shared polling data with Russian billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska to curry favor with the Kremlin. The Times was subsequently forced to issue a correction to its report.
“I really think that it’s time for The New York Times to step back and ask themselves why they’ve been wrong, so wrong, so often,” McEnany said.
And I think it’s time for The New York Times and also The Washington Post to hand back their Pulitzers.
McEnany’s rebuke echoed a tweet by Trump on Sunday, where he suggested that the bounty story might be an extension of Russiagate, calling it potentially “another fabricated Russia Hoax.” Trump said that US intelligence did not inform him about the reports before because they had thought them to be not credible enough.