Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday refused to tell reporters the “sex or gender” of Conan, the hero dog who helped take down the leader of the Islamic State.
During a press gaggle at the White House, NBC Correspondent Hans Nichols pressed the White House counselor to resolve widespread confusion about whether Conan is “a good boy or a good girl.”
“Can we just get you to definitively say the sex of Conan the dog?” Nichols asked.
“No, I won’t do that,” Conway replied.
“You don’t know if it’s a boy or girl?” Nicholas followed up.
“No, I won’t do that because then you’ll say that I was talking about somebody’s sex or gender, so I’m not doing that,” Conway shot back, apparently alluding to sensitivities around transgender identity.
“Well it’s just a dog,” Nichols said. “Is it a good boy or a good girl?”
“I don’t think we talk about, we don’t talk about sex in the White House briefing room, Hans,” Conway said.
The briefing then moved on to other topics.
Kellyanne Conway joins a White House disinformation campaign about Conan’s gender
The controversy over Conan’s sex erupted after President Donald Trump on Monday honored the military dog in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, presenting the Belgian Malinois with a service award and certificate.
During his unscripted remarks, Trump referred to Conan as male. Later in the day, though, the White House issued a clarification that Conan is actually female, before reversing course and saying the president was right the first time.
A Defense Department official on Tuesday contradicted the White House’s latest position, telling ABC News the dog is female. But the White House stood by the male designation when the Washington Examiner asked for comment on the Pentagon’s statement.
Journalists on Twitter struggled to cope with the ambiguity, apparently feeling the need to impose a gender binary on Conan.
Just in: #Conan, the hero dog from the al-Baghdadi raid, is in fact a GIRL, a US defense official tells ABC News. Yesterday, a WH official told the pool that Conan was a girl but later said the dog was actually a boy — after POTUS & VPOTUS used male pronouns to refer to Conan.
— Elizabeth McLaughlin (@Elizabeth_McLau) November 26, 2019
John Roberts, Fox News’ chief White House correspondent, was reduced to analyzing a photo of Conan’s genitalia, which he deemed inconclusive.
OMIGERD! Now Conan is a female again……(according to some reports)
The one photo I have seen of the relevant area definitely looks like the dog has lady parts….but the resolution admittedly isn't great.
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) November 26, 2019
Daily Caller reporter Peter J. Hasson joked that the conflicting reports are a good metaphor for the state of the media.
The amount of conflicting info out there about the ostensibly easy-to-check fact of whether Conan is a boy or girl feels like a metaphor for the current media moment
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) November 26, 2019
The media maelstrom over Conan’s sex came after a number of journalists and news outlets fretted that Trump had joked about Conan attacking a Reuters correspondent during the White House event.
A Vanity Fair headline on Monday blared: “Trump Threatens to Sic Conan the Military Dog on Reporter.”