On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Michael Patrick Leahy spoke with special guest Neil McCabe who is a former Breitbart colleague and Washington journalist.
During the third hour, McCabe weighed in on the new Trump administration change which moved Stephanie Grisham back to the East Wing and appointed former Trump Campaign Spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as the new press secretary. He likened the scenario to being one that was necessary with the new Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows who would need his people in position and added that she would be more equipped than Grisham to handle the fast-paced nature of the position.
Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend. My long time Breitbart colleague and Washington journalist Neil McCabe. Good morning Neil.
McCabe: Whooooo Michael. How are you? (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: Let me go into a little inside baseball in Washington. So Stephanie Grisham is out as press secretary and in her place is Kayleigh McEnany. I guess she’s a former Harvard Law school grad and the spokesperson for the Trump campaign. What happened?
McCabe: Well I mean you have a new chief-of-staff and he wants his team. It’s the same thing when you have a new coach. It’s like when that player in Washington that was the quarterback to the Redskins KGB3 or whatever. (Leahy laughs) My pastor, Father Dan Leary, at St. Andrews in Silver Spring, Maryland he was the chaplain for the Redskins.
And when the quarterback Scott Shanahan got fired, when a head coach is fired it’s like 20 assistants. His coordinators. The trainers. Like 50 people lose their jobs. And the same thing happened to him. They said listen, Father Leahy, the new coach wants his own team. He wants his own chaplain. Right? You don’t want some other head coaches chaplain.
Same thing. Stephanie is considered inside the White House as one of the hardcore Trump loyalists. She was on the campaign playing as a press wrangler and press secretary all through the primaries. She has tremendous personal loyalty to the President and that is why she’s going to stay on the White House staff.
She’s still very close to the First Lady. So everything gets spun. It’s funny, for eight years no matter what happened in the Obama administration it was spun as peaches and cream. Everything that happens in the Trump administration is just another sign that the Trump administration is over. It’s over! (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: It doesn’t surprise me. And of course, Mark Meadows comes in as new chief-of-staff and he wants his team. That makes sense. I think Stephanie Grisham had a little bit of what I call, wait for it…the Phil Bengtson problem. Phil Bengston. Do you know what I mean by the Phil Bengston problem? I will tell you if it doesn’t immediately jump to mind.
McCabe: Don’t make me beg! (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: Phil Bengtson was the coach of the Green Bay Packers who immediately followed Vince Lombardi after Vince retired. He lasted for a couple of years. It’s not exactly the same. But Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a fantastic press secretary. And I think anybody who followed her would have a very hard act to follow right? It makes sense. I guess the question is Kayleigh McEnany up to the job?
McCabe: She’s one of these people in the Trump administration who catches arrows. I’ve talked about this few and far between. Basically, on the cabinet, you have Barr and you have Pompeo who are the only guys willing to catch arrows. Meanwhile, guys like Esper over at the Pentagon are actually undermining the President.
There’s a lot of cabinet officers and other people who are looking out for themselves. That’s not the case with her. And I think that you may see her interact with the reporters more. I think one of the things that hurt Stephanie is because she started out working for the First Lady in the East Wing it’s just not as active a shop.
She didn’t adjust to the operations tempo of the West Wing. And then especially during the virus. And so there are people like my buddy Hogan Gidley. He’s still there. There are a lot of people who are still there. There are a lot of people who can ride out changes of administration. Meadows is coming from Capitol Hill.
He was chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. As chairman of the House Freedom Caucus he went through the repeal and replace of Obamacare. He was right in the middle of defending the president on impeachment. And so he’s got more of that intense up-tempo.
I think it’s fair to say that covering Capitol Hill is a lot different than covering the White House. I think there are 20 Washington Post reporters on Capitol Hill. And so for Meadows to come from that environment where there are reporters. They ambush guys in the hall all the time. It doesn’t happen at the White House.
You are not amusing on anybody because you are locked in a cage. You can go in the driveway. You can go in the basement and you can go hand out in the briefing room and that’s it. I think Meadows just wanted somebody a little different.
Leahy: And Stephanie Grisham has a safe place to land. She’s been moved over to chief-of-staff for the First Lady Melania Trump. So it’s not terrible for her I guess.
McCabe: Listen, if you gave me that job wouldn’t screw that up, Mike. I promise.
Leahy: Speaking of screwing things up. Jonathan Carl who’s head of the White House Correspondence Association. He brought in somebody who works for someone Chinese Communist Party to ask the president a question.
Leahy: No? Do I have that wrong?
McCabe: I don’t know if you saw the same tweet I saw. I don’t know if Carl brought her in. Phoenix TV is a broadcaster based in Hong Kong.
McCabe: I know her. I mean I don’t know her. I see her and we say hello to each other. I’m actually better friends with one of her colleagues. Phoneix-TV is the pro-Beijing channel in Hong Kong. And it’s controlled by the Chi-coms? Probably. But this narrative that Carl brought her in. There have always been TV reporters at the White House.
McCabe: There’s Al Jazeera at the White House. I think the most vicious reporters at the White House towards the president are actually federal employees right? (Leahy laughs) PBS? Voice of America? There’s one woman who works for Voice of America-Indonesia right?
And she’s slamming the president. And I’m thinking why is Voice of America-Indonesia playing gotcha with the President of the United States, her boss? The most radical left-wing media outlet in the English language is Stars and Stripes. Which is one of those left-wing hacks who run out of the Pentagon. There’s a lot of problems with the White House Correspondent Association As a member of the White House Correspondent Association it’s not exactly…
Leahy: Gotcha. I want to go back to something that you said about Secretary of Defense’s Mark Esper not being on the President’s team. What do you make of this curfuffle nuclear aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt who put out a letter that criticized some of what was going on to the press? He got fired by the Acting Secretary to the Navy. The acting Secretary to the Navy went out and said some mean things about him and the Democrats complained. And he’s now resigned. What’s going on there?
McCabe: If you made me Secretary of the Navy, believe me, you wouldn’t hear a peep out of me for four years. I would love that job. But anyway, the captain of the Roosevelt an aircraft carrier has a task force that is trying to confront China in the Eastern Pacific and trying to keep open fishing areas and trade lanes for our allies who don’t have big Navys like the Philipines and South Korea and what not. These Asian allies rely on us because the Chi-comms are trying to close off the South China sea.
Listen to the full third hour:
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Photo “Kayleigh McEnany” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.