President Donald Trump pretty much demanded that a reporter take off his mask while asking a question at a news conference on Monday. Shortly after Jeff Mason of Reuters started to ask his question, the president interrupted him: “You’re going to have to take that off, please. You can take it off. How many feet away are you?” Mason appears to go to take off his mask for a second but then seems to think better of it and tells Trump he’ll speak “a lot louder.” Trump clearly did not like the pushback and continued insisting. “Well, if you don’t take it off, you’re very muffled, so if you would take it off, it would be a lot easier,” he said.
Mason proceeded to raise his voice and asked, “Is that better?” Trump looked quite annoyed and let out an audible sigh but conceded he could hear the reporters. “It’s … better, yeah. It’s better.”
Later on in the news conference, Trump praised a reporter who did take off his mask. “You sound so clear,” Trump said, “as opposed to everybody else.”
This wasn’t the first time Trump and Mason had a back-and-forth over wearing a mask. In May, Trump asked Mason to take off his face mask, claiming again he couldn’t hear the question. Mason refused, saying he would speak louder. “Oh OK, because you want to be politically correct,” Trump said. “No, sir, I just want to wear the mask,” Mason replied. Trump called on Mason to remove the mask shortly after denying he had mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask.
Even though Trump seemed to have turned a corner and started encouraging people to wear masks after he publicly wore one for the first time on July 11, that seems to have vanished recently. Lately, Trump more often than not is appearing in public without a mask as are his top aides. Trump has defended his decision to not wear a mask saying he is tested regularly but experts say this is the type of behavior that leaders should model. “It’s his own task force that’s recommending this, and it’s his own CDC that’s recommending it,” Amesh Adalja, a scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security told Bloomberg. “It’s hypocritical if he expects the population to be able to do that, because the task force he constituted is recommending it, yet he’s not doing it.”
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