The morning after a COVID-infected President Donald Trump pulled off his face mask upon his return to the White House, Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley asserted with a straight face that the president has been a leader on the issue of mask-wearing from the beginning.
Interviewing Gidley on Tuesday’s morning broadcast of America’s Newsroom, Fox News anchor Sandra Smith brought up Trump campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine attacking Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for not having coronavirus and claiming Trump’s “firsthand experience” with COVID-19 will get him re-elected.
“The president himself and the videos he released being very transparent letting the American people into his hospital room, in essence, talked about the fact he has learned so much about this virus,” Gidley responded, doubling down on Perrine’s remarks.
“He literally stared down coronavirus,” he added. “Looks like he is on the best end of it. The best words I’ve heard Dr. Conley say is, ‘He is back.’”
Smith, meanwhile, noted that the White House physician said that Trump is “not out of the woods yet” when releasing the president from Walter Reed. She then asked Gidley if Trump’s “firsthand experiences” will change his messaging on mask-wearing and social distancing, specifically referencing the recent “superspreader” Rose Garden event.
“Listen, I am so angry at the way the media has covered this mask issue,” Gidley exclaimed. “He was talking about masks on March 31 and April 3—he stood with the CDC when they issued the guidelines wearing masks.”
After complaining that the White House press corps didn’t regularly start wearing masks to the briefing room until later in the spring, the Trump flack then insisted that the president was a leader on face coverings.
“This president has led on the issue at every single turn,” he declared. “And right now is no different. He pulled out a mask at the debate and said here, ‘I have mine. I wear mine.’”
The president, who took months into the pandemic to finally wear a mask in public, notably mocked Biden at last week’s debate for regularly wearing masks. The president’s recent campaign rallies, meanwhile, have featured large crowds with little to no mask-wearing and no social-distancing restrictions.
Smith then brought up the optics of Trump symbolically ripping off his mask upon his release from Walter Reed Medical Center, wondering aloud if that sends a mixed message to the public while also noting that Trump currently has COVID-19 and could potentially infect others.
“Okay, a couple of things there again,” Gidley replied. “The president is alone on the balcony outside. He takes his mask off.”
The president, however, was not alone on the balcony during that moment. A White House photographer immediately ran by the president’s side to snap pictures. Moments later, while filming a video he would later tweet out, Trump was surrounded by several other staffers.
“Flip over a couple of channels and look at MSNBC,” he continued, referencing Biden’s NBC News town-hall event. “Joe Biden is sitting there without a mask, talking to Lester Holt without a mask. It is ridiculous to hear the media go apoplectic over that.”
“There’s one big difference,” Smith shot back. “The president is currently shedding the virus. He is still in the middle of the 10-day virus phase.”