Chatting With Angela Rye About the Eye Roll Heard ’Round the World

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Late last night on CNN Tonight, political commentator Angela Rye took part in a panel with conservative correspondent Kayleigh McEnany to discuss Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination as the first major-party female presidential candidate. And because many of us were already tucked into our beds by 1:30 a.m., we missed the sight of Rye’s eyes rolling into the back of her head at the sound of McEnany describing all of the great works to which Donald Trump has committed his life.

“I love that we have facts like Libya in disarray, Iraq in disarray, Syria in disarray, all under the tutelage of Hillary Clinton’s State Department,” McEnany said, prompting Rye to look aghast in the direction of Maria Cardona. Then host Don Lemon asked McEnany what she thought about Bill Clinton’s speech, in which he referenced Hillary’s “helping with school and adoptive parents.” “Well, that’s great,” McEnany responded. “You know, Donald Trump has done great things in his private time, too, for veterans, all across his foundation. He’s done great things, too. We’ve all done great things in our lives and I commend her for helping children, that’s a commendable thing.” Seated to McEnany’s left, Rye could barely contain her revulsion.  

On the phone from Philadelphia, Rye told the Cut that her eye-rolling in this and other interviews is carefully calibrated so she doesn’t come off as “an angry black woman.” (In an earlier sparring match with McEnany on Anderson Cooper 360, Rye told the conservative, “I’m so glad you’re telling me what I should be appalled by.”) ”For me, yesterday, it was such a historic moment. Regardless of whether you’re with Hill or you’re feeling the Bern, we had to appreciate the magnitude of that moment,” she told the Cut. “To switch gears from shattering glass ceilings from Michelle Obama’s dynamic speech to Cory Booker to Eric Holder the night before, to then talk about ISIS? Are we really doing this right now?”

“I think she knows that normally I don’t agree with her,” Rye said. “Kayleigh is someone I consider a friend; we get along very well off air. And I absolutely believe that Kayleigh wholeheartedly believes the things she says.” Does she think it’s possible to come to any agreements? “I think we can reach a common understanding,” she said. “This country is not going to progress if we can’t have decent civil conversations and be respectful to one another.”

Twitter users have mostly responded with delight to Rye’s eye roll, but some found the moment childish. “They can tell that to my face,” Rye said. “My friends have been making fun of me for years. I don’t have the poker face to pretend.” Rye said she gets her lack of poker face from her mother and her lack of filter from her father.

And after all, Rye’s commitment to throwing shade makes for great TV. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” she said. “We talk about the same things all the time on air.” So CNN is not asking her to cut back on her knee-jerk responses, but that doesn’t mean Rye hasn’t at least tried to change. “I consider Wolf [Blitzer] a mentor. I said, ‘Wolf, teach me how to do the poker face,’ and he said, ‘I can’t do that … but I can teach you how to Dougie.’”

Angela Rye on the Eye Roll Heard Round the World