White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany blasted The New York Times Monday over what she claimed was "false" reporting about whether President Trump was briefed about intelligence that Russia paid Taliban-linked militants bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
McEnany took issue with the Times' "erroneous reporting" that President Trump was briefed on the intel, saying that the president is only briefed on verified intelligence and claiming there were "dissenting opinions” within the intelligence community. Trump himself has denied on Twitter that he or Vice President Mike Pence were briefed on the matter.
McEnany wrapped up the press briefing by slamming the Times' "absolutely irresponsible decision" to "falsely report" that the president was briefed.
"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. "The New York Times falsely claimed that Paul Manafort asked for polling data to be passed along to Oleg Deripaska before having to issue a correction. In June 2017, The New York Times falsely wrote all 17 intel agencies had agreed on Russian interference before having to issue a correction that it was only four agencies.
"In 2017-- February of that year, New York Times published a story claiming Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence, which even James Comey had said was almost entirely wrong."
The press secretary then pointed to a March 2019 column by former Times executive editor Max Frankel, who she said asserted that the Trump campaign had an "overarching deal" with Russia to assist in the defeat of Hillary Clinton in exchange of a "pro-Russian" foreign policy, something she stressed was the "Russian hoax."
"It is inexcusable, the failed Russia reporting of The New York Times," McEnany said before leaving the briefing room. "And I think it's time for The New York Times and also The Washington Post to hand back their Pulitzers."
In 2018, the staffs of both papers shared the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. The Pulitzer Prize Board praised both outlets for "deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration."
Fox News' Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.