During a coronavirus task force briefing on Monday, President Donald Trump and a reporter sparred a bit about whether the media member would remove his mask while he was asking a question. Daniel Politi of Salon reported that not only did the two get into a bit of a tense exchange, but it’s not the first time it’s happened.
Shortly after Jeff Mason of Reuters began questioning Trump, he was interrupted and was asked to take off his mask.
Trump claimed he couldn’t understand what Mason was saying and then asked him how far away he was. It’s not clear whether he was pointing out they were more than six feet away or whether he was expounding on how difficult it was to hear the questions.
According to Politi, the reporter seemed to start to remove his face covering but then thought better of it. Instead, he offered to speak a lot louder. He then began the questioning again at higher volume and inquired whether Trump could hear him any better.
The president continued to insist the media member take his face covering off, saying that it was still very hard to hear him. He added that he was “very muffled” and asked again for him to oblige.
When Mason raised his voice even more, Trump appeared to realize that he wasn’t going to win the back-and-forth, reportedly gave a very audible sigh and then said it was better. After which, they proceeded with the conference.
Aaron Rupar posted a video on Twitter of a later exchange with another member of the press who was asking about when a coronavirus vaccine could be expected. Trump praised that person for removing their covering before posing their question.
"You sound so clear, as opposed to everybody else where they refuse" — Trump praises a reporter for not wearing a mask pic.twitter.com/AA8pz6v4ob
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2020
Politi noted this isn’t the first time Trump and the Reuters writer have gotten into a back-and-forth on this issue. In May, the president used similar tactics of claiming he couldn’t make out what the reporter was saying.
That exchange appeared to be a bit testier when he said he would simply talk at a higher volume. Trump claimed he was just trying to be “politically correct” when he refused to do what he had been requested of him.
The journalist said he simply wanted to follow protocols that had been laid out by the government when it came to gatherings like the one they were at. That appeared to end the back-and-forth in the earlier confrontation.