President Trump sent his critics into a tailspin when he asked a reporter to remove his face mask during a White House news briefing.
The president told a Reuters correspondent that he couldn’t hear his “muffled” question during the press conference on Labor Day and asked if he would remove it, sparking instant criticism on social media and accusations of “bullying.” White House reporter Jeff Mason was hailed as a hero by liberals for his refusal to remove his mask.
Trump opened up the conference for questions after delivering a speech touting the recovery of the U.S. economy and criticizing his 2020 Democratic opponent Joe Biden. As Mason stood up in the outdoor setting to ask his question, the president interjected to say he was having troubling understanding him because of his protective face covering.
“You’re going to have to take that off, please. You can take it off. How many feet are you away?” Trump said.
“I’ll speak a lot louder,” Mason, who was once president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, responded after politely refusing.
Before the meeting, Mason had tweeted that the setting for the press briefing was outdoors and was the first time he had seen one held in the North Portico of the White House in his dozen years “on the beat.”
Awaiting @realDonaldTrump press conference. Have never seen a presidential presser in the North Portico of the White House in 12 years covering the beat. This is Trump’s only Labor Day event and is likely to be highly political in nature. pic.twitter.com/QZczyDjxuL
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) September 7, 2020
“Well, if you don’t take it off — you’re very muffled,” Trump replied to Mason’s offer to speak louder. “So if you would take it off, it would be a lot easier.”
“I’ll just speak a lot louder. Is that better?” the reporter countered, declining again to remove his face mask.
Though the president did not seem satisfied, emitting an audible sigh at Mason’s response, he acknowledged, “It’s better. Yeah — it’s better.”
While the left-wing media began falsely reporting that Trump had “ordered” Mason to remove his mask, the Reuters correspondent got plenty of applause on social media for his stand.
👏👏👏👏 Nicely done, Jeff!
— Tracy 😷 (@YankeesfanTracy) September 7, 2020
Good for him 🙏 much respect.
— Jeny F (@JenyF12) September 7, 2020
Other Twitter users defended the president and pointed out the media’s hypocrisy.
He says it’s much easier to hear and understand them, which is was. That’s not controversial, you know what would be, if Trump didn’t take the questions of people wearing masks. All this was is him asking for the guy to take the mask off for a minute while they were 25ft apart.
— Aditya Aryaman (@AdityaAryaman) September 8, 2020
We have seen many times the press removing their masks as soon as they thought they were off camera following a press conference. But, being that they are generally all anti-Trump they attack him for asking someone to remove their mask long enough for their question to be heard.
— Brad (@BradRMarchand) September 8, 2020
He’s outside, distanced from people. Take off the mask.
— SC (@sconos26) September 7, 2020
They are outside and 6 feet apart. They are also tested. These people are ridiculous and I’d bet if anyone followed this guy around they’d find him without a mask when he’s not preening for the cameras.
— Fiery But Mostly Peaceful (@jimni271) September 7, 2020
A short while after Mason’s question, a reporter for The Guardian who stood further back in the seating area, asked a question after removing his mask.
“You sound so clear, as opposed to everybody else where they refuse,” Trump noted.
Back during press briefings in March and April, many did not wear masks including members of the president’s coronavirus task force, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx. Trump had a similar mask encounter with Mason back in May at an outdoor Rose Garden press conference, asking the reporter to remove his mask to ask a question.
“No. I just want to wear the mask,” Mason had responded.
During Monday’s briefing, Mason’s question to Trump was in regard to his condemnation of an article published in The Atlantic last week claiming he disparaged fallen World War I U.S. service members during a 2018 trip to France.
“The story is a hoax written by a guy who’s got a tremendously bad history,” Trump said in his response, after also refuting claims about negative things he had said about the late Sen. John McCain.
Trump acknowledged that he was “not a fan” of McCain but denied the accusations in the article.