- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2020

She has been on the job since April 7. That would be Kayleigh McEnany — age 32 and the 31st White House press secretary — who took charge of this challenge in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, and as the news media directed unprecedented and intense hostility toward President Trump.

“Is Kayleigh McEnany the best press secretary in history? I think she may be. True, it’s early. She was elevated to the position only in April and presided over her first briefing just a few weeks ago on May 1. But so far her tenure has been glorious,” writes Roger Kimball — editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the publisher of Encounter Books — in an essay for Spectator USA.

“Despite having attended both Georgetown and Harvard, where she took a law degree, she remains quick-witted, forthright and occupies a cant-free zone that suffuses the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room with a spirit of patriotic candor that is as welcome as it is rare in the self-involved purlieus of the so-called mainstream media,” Mr. Kimball said.

The self-involved what? Inside the Beltway humbly consults the Merriam Webster dictionary to reveal that “purlieus” — the plural form of the noun “purlieu” — means “hangout” or “stomping ground.” So now we know.

Ms. McEnany has considerable skills wrangling the press, meanwhile.



“She’s a patient, but no-nonsense camp counselor in charge of the problem kids,” Mr. Kimball said.

WHEN VIRUS NEWS GOES VIRAL

News coverage of the coronavirus is constant and varied. Of note: The Pew Research Center reveals that two-thirds of the public now say they have seen news on the pandemic which they believe is “made up.” Another 86% said this wave of “made up news and information” leaves confusion about basic facts in its wake.

But wait, there’s more to consider as virus news goes, uh, viral.

“Most U.S. adults report having seen made-up news about COVID-19, and many have seen various claims about purported treatments. But relatively few Americans have a lot of confidence in their own ability to check the accuracy of the news and information they come across related to the coronavirus. About three-in-ten U.S. adults (28%) say they are very confident that they would know what steps to take to check the accuracy of news and information about the coronavirus outbreak,” writes Jeffrey Gottfried, an analyst for the Pew Research Center.

His source: a Pew Research poll of 10,139 U.S. adults conducted April 20-26.

Inside The Beltway respectfully suggests that a national crisis is the time for news coverage based on clarity and accuracy, and separation of news and commentary. May the next poll ask the public to speculate about why the press indulges in “made up news.”

WHAT SCHOOLS ARE IN FOR

At least one jumbo plan for reopening public school classrooms has emerged as the coronavirus pandemic continues. The Los Angeles County Office of Education has released their master strategy for this challenge. It is 43 pages long.

Among the requirements for the COVID-19-era schools: “Self-contained” classrooms, masks for each student, 16 students per class, one-way hallways, floor markings for foot traffic, isolation rooms for those suspected of being sick, and lunch eaten only at classroom desks.

On the playground, one ball for kids to play with, by themselves. “Hybrid learning” joins distance learning and independent study as a mainstay of the curriculum. Mental health support would be offered through a “calming/quiet area” in the classroom.

The new requirements affect some 2 million students, and were released before California state officials could issue their own requirements, expected in early June.

“This is just the beginning. We plan to continue this work through the summer to support schools as they prepare to welcome families back — virtually or in-person — this fall. While plans to reopen schools will look different across our 80 districts, one thing is certain — our top priorities must be the health and safety of students and staff, and we must be guided by directives from our public health officials as we focus on ensuring learning continues,” county school superintendent Debra Duardo said in a statement.

One news organization suggests it is a template for the rest of the nation.

“The safe reopening of schools in California and throughout the nation compels the reimagining — or abandoning — of long-held traditions and goals of the American school day, where play time, socialization and hands-on support have long been essential to the learning equation in everything from science labs and team sports to recess and group work,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles model is “an early top-to-bottom glimpse at the massive and costly changes that will be required to reboot campuses,” the news organization said.

The plan was developed through the work of county staffers, outside advisors and representatives from 23 county school systems, according to the Times.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

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POLL DU JOUR

• 41% of U.S. voters think Joseph R. Biden will win the 2020 presidential election; 9% of Republicans, 31% of independents and 75% of Democrats agree.

• 14% of conservatives, 48% of moderates and 71% of liberals also agree.

• 40% of voters overall think President Trump will win the election; 84% of Republicans, 35% of independents and 9% of Democrats agree.

• 74% of conservatives, 29% of moderates and 13% of liberals also agree.

• 18% don’t know or have no opinion; 8% of Republicans, 34% of independents and 16% of Democrats agree.

• 11% of conservatives, 23% of moderates and 16% of liberals also agree.

Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,986 registered U.S. voters conducted May 22-26.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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