Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, repeatedly refused to denounce white supremacy on Thursday, insisting that President Trump had already done so and angrily accusing the media of refusing to accept his answer.
In a series of remarkably heated exchanges with reporters, even by the standards of the Trump White House, Ms. McEnany said that Mr. Trump has “always denounced any form of that” and read from past quotes from the president in which he condemned bigotry and racism, including “the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.”
But she would not explicitly condemn white supremacy from the briefing room lectern or specifically denounce the Proud Boys, a far-right group that Mr. Trump said should “stand back and stand by” during Tuesday’s presidential debate with Joseph R. Biden Jr.
When Ms. McEnany was asked why the Proud Boys, an extremist organization that embraces violence and hate against minorities, was celebrating Mr. Trump’s debate comments, she once again declined to denounce the group and noted that the president on Wednesday had clarified that the group should “stand back” and let law enforcement do their jobs.
Under repeated questioning by reporters from CBS, Fox News, CNN and other organizations, Ms. McEnany lashed out, blaming journalism organizations for publicizing the Proud Boys in their stories. She told a CNN reporter that “truth is of no moment” to the cable network and complained when a CBS News reporter interrupted her.
“It’s quite funny that the media goes haywire about interrupting and debates and then chooses to pursue that very same tactic themselves,” Ms. McEnany said. “This is a White House briefing: You ask a question and you give me time to answer.”
The president has — as Ms. McEnany said — at times denounced the K.K.K. and other hate groups. But he has often done so under pressure, and only as part of a broad condemnation against violence in which he quickly attacks left-wing groups as the bigger threat to the country.
In the debate, Mr. Biden said that antifa, a left-wing movement that has perpetrated violence, was “an idea,” different from specific right-wing hate groups, citing recent testimony by Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., who described antifa as an “ideology or movement” rather than an organization.
Ms. McEnany mocked Mr. Biden’s answer on Thursday.
“Ideas do not target police officers. Ideas do not burn down buildings. Ideas do not kill innocent Americans. Organizations do,” she said. “And Democrats should condemn that shameful group in the same manner President Trump continues to condemn white supremacy.”