The political theater of Kayleigh McEnany’s scripted walk-offs

Such dramatic exits have become a signature of McEnany’s brief tenure as press secretary. Since taking the job in April, the former Trump-friendly CNN pundit and spokeswoman for Trump’s reelection campaign has often waited until the briefing’s conclusion — that is, the moment when she determines the briefing is concluded — to unload on the assembled reporters.

The excoriation is typically punctuated by a binder slam and a determined stride away from the lectern, almost like the slugger who doesn’t bother to watch the pitch he just swatted as it sails into the bleacher seats. The unspoken message seems to be: Take that, hacks!…

Her mic-dropping moments are really designed for two audiences beyond the denizens of the briefing room: Trump himself and the universe of Trump-friendly websites, said Ryan Lizza, Politico’s chief Washington correspondent and a CNN contributor. The websites, he said, turn her set pieces into share-worthy clips “for the MAGA-sphere” within minutes of her walkout.

“We used to have this quaint idea that the press secretary wasn’t just a mouthpiece for the president, that half of the job was serving the press and the public,” said Lizza, who appeared with McEnany on CNN many times when she was a network contributor. “That model is gone now. Now it’s almost pure theater, and [she’s serving] the negative partisanship that drives all else.”