Kimberly Halkett is a White House correspondent for Al Jazeera English in Washington, D.C., who was caught in a hot mic moment during a press conference on July 21 and was accused of calling White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany “a lying b****.”
In a White House press conference that was broadcast live on July 21, Halkett can be seen sparring with McEnany over Russian interference in the elections and mail-in voting.
Citing the Trump administration’s expressed concerns about mail-in voting and “the integrity of the election,” Halkett asked McEnany what the Trump administration is doing now to address foreign interference in U.S. elections. McEnany gave a few examples, but Halkett interrupted her to highlight her original question, saying the examples that the press secretary just gave were old. McEnany said she had provided several examples but was “happy to go through more.”
She then pointed Halkett to a Wall Street Journal op-ed about mail-in voting and cited the “absolute catastrophe in New York City.” “I know you don’t want to hear them which is why you talk over me but I encourage you to read the op-ed,” McEnany continued, after quoting statistics from the op-ed.
She then moved on to take the next question from another reporter as Halkett attempted to ask about the Chinese vaccine research. McEnany said Halkett had more questions than some journalists attending the conference and moved on to other people.
Halkett then uttered something into a hot mic, which sent her to the center of a heated discussion on Twitter. She was accused by some people of calling McEnany a “lying b*tch,” while others backed her up.
Some are saying it sounds like a reporter called @PressSec a "bitch"
Here is audio in question: pic.twitter.com/NNWeCnjGCf
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) July 21, 2020
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Halkett Denied Calling White House Press Secretary a ‘Lying B****’
Thanks for asking @charliespiering … there's a lot of misreporting out there about that briefing. The answer to your question is, I DID NOT. What I said was, "OKAY, YOU DON'T WANT TO ENGAGE." https://t.co/xmu5YR7gXr
— Kimberly Halkett (@KimberlyHalkett) July 21, 2020
Halkett quickly denied the obscenity. Charlie Spiering, White House correspondent for Breitbart News, asked her in a tweet whether she really called McEnany a “lying b****” during the White House briefing. The Al Jazeera correspondent responded that what she said was something else: “What I said was, ‘OKAY, YOU DON’T WANT TO ENGAGE.’”
After her denial, some reporters and analysts backed her up. Andrew Feinberg, also a White House correspondent, said the White House official stenographers proved that Halkett didn’t use obscenity. Al Jazeera also defended its reporter, citing the same transcript. The Washington Post politics reporter Dave Weigel said on Twitter that many people owed Halkett an apology.
However, this did not stop the Twitter frenzy. Many people on Twitter still said they believed Halkett used the insulting language, while others left comments on her Instagram posts calling for her to apologize or resign before she made her account private.
In an interview on Fox News‘ Hannity, McEnany responded to the speculation and said her staff was divided over whether Halkett made the vulgar comment. “I polled my staff and my staff was 50/50,” she said.
“I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt if she said she didn’t say that, something that has never given to this president as they actively take him out of context. It’s egregious and the American people deserve better,” McEnany told Fox News.
2. Halkett Was Caught Cursing When She Failed to Get an Interview in 2016
This is not the first time Halkett has been involved in a cursing controversy. While the White House transcript supports Halkett’s innocence this time, she was caught swearing after failing to chase down an interview in 2016, according to Buzzfeed News.
The incident was made public after Washington Post reporter Dalton Bennett posted a Vine showing Halkett yelling at a woman behind her, “Thanks a lot, b****!” after she failed to chase down someone for an interview before a presidential debate in September 2016. While the Daily Mail and the Independent reported that she was chasing businessman Mark Cuban, Buzzfeed News made a correction and said she was chasing Mike Pence.
The moment went viral on Twitter and sent the hashtag #thanksalotbitch trending. Unlike this time, the 2016 incident resonated with many people, and journalists expressed solidarity with her, according to the Independent.
— Taurean Small (@taureansmall) September 27, 2016
Buzzfeed News reached Halkett at that time but she said she didn’t have time to speak and didn’t comment on the video.
3. Halkett Is a Canadian Journalist Covering American Politics
Halkett is a White House correspondent for Al Jazeera English. She was born in Canada and started covering the U.S. after she moved to Washington D.C. in 1998, according to her Al Jazeera profile page.
She joined Al Jazeera in 2006 when the network was first launched and has reported on four presidents and their administrations, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
From 2006 to 2010, she worked as both an anchor and reporter, before spending six years as the congress, justice and intelligence correspondent. She started covering the White House in 2017, her LinkedIn shows.
Before Al Jazeera, Halkett worked for Canada’s Global Television network and Fox Television.
4. Halkett Enjoys Having a ‘Front Seat’ & ‘Backstage Pass’ as a Journalist
Halkett grew up on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada and moved to Toronto to attend Ryerson University. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1992.
In an interview with the university as an alumna, she said she wouldn’t have been a White House correspondent without her education. According to her, having Ryerson on her resume helped her get her first big job as an editorial assistant at CBC Television, one of Canada’s top newsrooms. “My Ryerson professors actively worked in the industry as some of Canada’s most well-known and respected broadcast journalists. The skills and talents they shared with me lifted my professional work to the level I aspired to, but couldn’t achieve without their guidance,” she said.
Halkett said in the interview that she learned to connect with the audience through human emotion. “It’s emotion, not facts, that make an ordinary television news report exceptional,” she said.
She also said she wouldn’t change her career path, “not in a million years,” because she enjoyed working as a journalist and being a witness to many important events. “It’s allowed me to have a ‘front seat’ and ‘backstage pass’ to some of history’s biggest moments.”
5. Halkett’s Grandfather Was a Photojournalist & Inspired Her Career Choice
Halkett’s grandfather, Bill Halkett, was a newspaper photojournalist and had an influence on her career decision, according to the Ryerson interview. “He inspired my career choice even before setting foot on Ryerson’s campus,” she said. Her parents got married in 1968 and had at least three children, according to one Instagram post she has now made private.
Halkett says on LinkedIn that she has “raised five kids while covering journalism’s most demanding beats” and describes herself as a “top performer, fierce competitor” and “incredible multitasker.” She also identifies herself as a “hockey mom” on Twitter because one of her children plays hockey. Halkett’s daughter graduated from high school this May.
Halkett’s husband escorted former House Speaker Paul Ryan through Afganistan during his overseas visit in 2018, according to her Facebook.