Trump Asks 'Muffled' Reporter to Take Off Mask During News Conference
A request by President Donald Trump for a reporter to remove his mask during a Labor Day press conference was denied as the journalist instead offered to speak louder.
On Monday, Trump, 74, spoke at a White House press briefing when he appeared impatient with a member of the press, claiming he couldn't hear Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason due to his protective face covering.
"You're going to have to take that off please," the president, who wasn't wearing a mask, said into the podium's microphone, signaling for Mason to remove his. "You can take it off. You're how many feet away?"
Rather than remove the face covering while standing next to other reporters amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mason responded that he'll just "speak a lot louder," raising his volume from under the mask.
"Well, if you don't take it off, you're very muffled," Trump insisted, "so if you take it off, it'd be a lot easier."
"I'll just speak a lot louder. Is that better?" the reporter again replied, to which the president sighed and said, "It's better. Yeah, it's better."
Mason went on to ask Trump about dispelling the report from The Atlantic that he called U.S. soldiers "losers" and "suckers" during a 2018 trip to Paris when he canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. The report also claimed Trump called late Sen. John McCain a "loser."
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Trump had previously denied the claims but was asked if he saw how some were skeptical that it was false given what he's said about McCain in the past.
"I've always been on the opposite side of John McCain. John McCain liked wars; I will be a better warrior than anybody, but when we fight a war, we're gonna win 'em. That's the most important thing," answered Trump before moving on to another question.
Mason is the same reporter Trump heckled as “politically correct” back in May when Mason politely declined the president’s same request to remove his mask. “Ok, because you want to be politically correct,” Trump said sarcastically then, Deadline reported.
When the following reporter took off his mask to ask a question from the back of the pool of journalists on Monday, Trump interjected: "You sound so clear, as opposed to everybody else when they refuse."
During a July press conference, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, assured that the best tactic to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its public health severity is by simply wearing a mask in public.
“If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four weeks, six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground,” he said at the time. “… We are not defenseless against this virus. We actually have one of the most powerful weapons you could ask for — the most powerful weapon we have that I know of is wearing face coverings.”
Redfield added: “The most important thing that I could ask the American public to do is to fully embrace face coverings, to fully embrace careful hand hygiene, and to fully embrace social distancing.”
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