Have we mentioned on the site yet that Kellyanne is reportedly in the running to become the first ever female White House chief of staff?
The same Kellyanne whose husband is now a hero of the so-called Resistance by sh*tting on her boss, the president, on Twitter morning, noon, and night?
For many months Kellyanne has taken issue with reporters questioning her about her husband’s anti-Trump activities, sometimes insisting that it’s a sexist practice. Would a man working in the White House be asked to account for his wife’s political activities?
To which I would say: Uh, yes. If Kellyanne Conway was actually senior White House advisor Ken Conway and Ken’s wife happened to be a well-known corporate lawyer who now spent every waking hour dumping publicly on Trump, I feel like that WTF detail *would* routinely be included in profiles of Ken.
A few days ago reporter Caitlin Yilek of the Washington Examiner wrote a piece about Kellyanne being in the running for chief of staff and dared to mention the factoid that her spouse is now the most outspoken Never Trumper in America. Kellyanne didn’t like it. You can read the transcript of her call today with Yilek but I recommend listening to the audio below to savor the flavor. It’s hard to choose the best part but Conway ending the call by idly threatening to “cover” Yilek’s personal life might be it:
Conway: So, listen, if you’re going to cover my personal life, if you’re going to cover my personal life, then we’re welcome to do the same around here. If it has nothing to do with my job, which it doesn’t, that’s obvious, then we’re either going to expect you to cover everybody’s personal life or we’re going to start covering them over here.
Although actually I think this part is the newsiest:
Conway: Um, yes, so, always, right, exactly. You’re really going places. Let me tell you something, from a powerful woman. Don’t pull the crap where you’re trying to undercut another woman based on who she’s married to. He gets his power through me, if you haven’t noticed. Not the other way around. And if these are the, quote, standards, unquote, at the Washington Examiner, then yes, I’d be happy to talk to your editor. But I’ve known your editor since before you were born. So, I can call your editor either way. I’m just trying to give you a chance to explain why you think what you wrote qualifies as breaking news or reporting.
It’s true that George gets much of his media “power” from her. He has the giant following that he does on Twitter because of the fascination inherent in watching the spouse of one of the president’s top advisors tweet himself into a frenzy about POTUS every day. But George does have some “power” of his own. He’s not just a filthy-rich and successful attorney, he’s one of the guys who helped get the Federalist Society off the ground in the 1980s when he founded the chapter at Yale. He has many friends in the top strata of conservative legal circles to this day. Him attacking Trump is part of the “Reaganite GOP vs. Trumpist GOP” tensions that keep recurring in Trump’s presidency. His critiques are hugely amplified because of his marriage to Kellyanne but he’s also independently part of the storyline about how influential right-wing lawyers and judges are or aren’t reconciling themselves to Trump.
I don’t think he liked Kellyanne’s jab about “power” because not long after the Examiner story appeared he tweeted … this:
I’ve learned a lot about narcissism over the past couple of years that I didn’t know previously. In fact, I didn’t know it had a label, although I had seen it without knowing it.
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) October 24, 2019
George tweets about narcissism every day, as it’s become one of his core critiques about Trump. But I, uh, don’t think it’s Trump at whom this particular tweet was aimed. The bit about how he “had seen it without knowing it” previously is — hoo boy.
I want to have Thanksgiving at the Conways’ house this year to take in the mood, but I feel like it’d end up being just me and George eating TV dinners.
Kellyanne has two complaints about the Examiner piece ultimately. One is that this call was supposed to be off the record. You can read the Examiner’s own defense on that point here; essentially, Conway’s aide called Yilek, they agreed that *his* conversation with her should be off the record, then Kellyanne jumped on the line without clarifying that her part of the call was supposed to be off the record too. The Examiner took the lack of clarity as justification to print what Conway said in full. I would have assumed that the “off the record” agreement with the aide meant that everything was off the record, but oh well.
Her other, more substantial complaint is that George’s tweets about Trump simply have no relevance to a story about Kellyanne possibly becoming chief of staff. Trump hasn’t talked or tweeted about George lately, has he? Well, then, why mention George at all? But that’s ridiculous. Kellyanne can pretend all she wants that Trump has completely tuned out George but any boss would weigh harsh daily public criticism by a deputy’s spouse in choosing whether to promote her. If he makes Kellyanne chief of staff, the media will obsess even more about George’s critiques. The sheer engrossing weirdness of the president being savaged nonstop by the husband of his most powerful aide would be irresistible to them. If he elevates Kellyanne, he’ll inadvertently elevate George too. It’s perfectly correct to say that it’s unfair of George to put her in that position, where her chances of advancing professionally are being held back by his refusal to hold his tongue, but undeniably it’s relevant to stories about Kellyanne being considered for the position. In fact, the Kellyanne/George freak show is really a microcosm of the GOP under Trump: You have one wing of the party that enjoys power and influence because of its proximity to Trump and you have another much smaller and less influential wing that excoriates him relentlessly but attracts an outsized media following because of it. And these two wings are stuck with each other, at least for the moment. Neither one will give so this incredibly awkward marriage stumbles along intact.
Update: And here’s Kellyanne Conway’s response to the Examiner, in which, interestingly, she *doesn’t* claim that she thought the call was off-the-record. Although I suppose claiming that at this point would look bad. Better to take the “nothing to hide” approach.
The false tweet below makes my point about how dangerous it is to characterize someone else’s intentions, feelings, or state of mind, even if it’s for clicks and kicks. https://t.co/v6df2aoU3T pic.twitter.com/B3Qzzra0uW
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) October 24, 2019