President Donald Trump took issue with a reporter who asked him a question yet declined to remove his mask during a press availability at the White House, accusing him of wanting to be “political correct.”
The reporter, Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason, began to ask a question before the president, seeing him in a mask, said, “Can you take it off, because I cannot hear you.”
“I will just speak louder,” Mason said.
“Ok, because you want to be politically correct,” Trump said.
“No sir, I just want to wear the mask,” Mason responded.
The exchange was the latest mixed message coming from the White House on wearing masks in public situations.
Most reporters and a number of White House staffers have been wearing masks in recent weeks as coronavirus cases have been reported among staffers who work at the White House.
Trump, though, has not worn a mask in public situations, and on Monday retweeted a post from Fox News’ Bit Hume that made light of how Joe Biden looked in a face covering when he laid a wreath at Delaware Memorial Bridge on Monday.
“This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public. Biden today,” Hume wrote.
At the White House press briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested that Biden was overdoing it. She said that it was “a bit peculiar” that Biden did not wear a mask in his basement, when he was next to his wife, but “he’s wearing one outdoors when he’s socially distanced. So I think that there was a discrepancy there.”
Yet the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend wearing a mask at home, but not out in public.
When this was pointed out to McEnany, she said, “The guidance says it’s recommended but not required. So it’s the personal choice of the individual, but it didn’t strike him as a very data-driven decision in that particular incidence.”
Delaware’s governor, John Carney, issued an emergency declaration that requires state residents to wear face coverings in public settings, including such places as grocery stores and public transit.
On CNN, Biden was asked about Trump’s jabs at him for wearing a mask.
“He’s a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way,” Biden said. “I mean, every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you’re in a crowd, and especially when you know you’re going to be in a position where you’re going to inadvertently get closer than 12 feet to somebody.”
He added, “Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine. It reminds me of the guys that I grew up with playing ball. They’d walk around with a ball in their hand, but they didn’t like to hit very much.”