ABC’s Pitts to Pence: Do You ‘Talk to God’ About Those Who Died Because You Acted Late?

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ABC’s Nightline has returned to its old timeslot with a larger audience after late local news (instead of after Jimmy Kimmel Live). On Wednesday’s show, co-host Byron Pitts ended an interview with Vice President Mike Pence by asking him “not in a political way,” but whether he “talk[s] to God” about feeling remorse for Americans who have died “because of steps the federal government did not take soon enough.”

So here we had a journalist ask the Vice President if he prays to the Lord with a heart of repentance for having been responsible for dead Americans. Surely, Chuck Todd would be proud of that question.

 

 

Here’s Pitts full question and Pence’s response (click “expand”):

PITTS: Mr. Vice President I have a final question for you. I --- and I ask this not in a political way, but for you, sir, like so many of us in our nation, are you a person of deep faith. No one doubts that. When you talk to God in your moments alone, do you find yourself worrying at all that people you represent and care deeply about have died and will die who did not need to because of steps the federal government did not take soon enough?

PENCE: Well, thank you for mentioning that we are talking about one American at a time and I promise you, that's the way President Trump thinks of this, it's the way I think of it. We wanted the American people to see the numbers so that we understand the challenging days that lie ahead, but I want people to know that our future is in your hands, that if every one of us will do and put into practice the Guidelines for America that we can bring those numbers down. I --- I really do believe we'll get through this and we'll come out stronger than ever before.

We should note that Pitts is a devout Christian. For example, he said this to Poynter in 2009 while promoting his book Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges: “I believe that I am a Child of God and that his son, Jesus Christ, died for my sins so that I might life. My faith certainly shapes my life and thus shapes my work.”

Faith aside, another question of note was the second one when Pitts noted that “you and your team have talked a lot about the importance of social distancing,” but then wondered “why not mandate it nationally?”

As news outlet after news outlet has noted, well over 90 percent of Americans are under stay-at-home orders by state and local officials, which include calls for social distancing. Pitts was perhaps referring to a national stay-at-home order. And if he were looking for social distancing measures to be made more than guidelines, the question would then be how law enforcement would go about enforcing it.

And finally, here was Pitts’s fourth question, which dealt with calls from medical professionals for more equipment to properly do their jobs:

Vice President Pence, bridge this gap for me if you would. You and the President have insisted that resources are available by the thousands for states who need them. But yet, governors, Republicans and Democrats, say they don't have what they need. On our air every single night, sir, we have doctors, nurses, foot soldiers on the ground who, with tears in their eyes, say they don't have what they need. How do you explain that discrepancy?

To see the relevant transcript from ABC’s Nightline on April 1, click “expand.”

ABC’s Nightline
April 1, 2020
11:50 p.m. Eastern

BYRON PITTS: So, you and the president have now made clear 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die in this pandemic. How do we avoid that?

(….)

11:51 p.m. Eastern

PITTS: And to that point, Mr. Vice President, you and your team have talked a lot about the importance of social distancing, so if social distancing is the best tool to combat the pandemic, why not mandate it nationally?

(….)

11:52 p.m. Eastern

PITTS: As it relates to social distancing, we're still seeing large groups gather across the country in a variety of ways. As you know, this week in Louisiana, people were still going to church. What's your message to folks still heading outside their homes to go to church services?

(….)

11:53 p.m. Eastern

PITTS: Vice President Pence, bridge this gap for me if you would. You and the President have insisted that resources are available by the thousands for states who need them. But yet, governors, Republicans and Democrats, say they don't have what they need. On our air every single night, sir, we have doctors, nurses, foot soldiers on the ground who, with tears in their eyes, say they don't have what they need. How do you explain that discrepancy?

(….)

11:54 p.m. Eastern

PITTS: You're at a distribution center today in Virginia. Our food supply may be strong, but our economy is hurting. Today is the first day of the month, and a lot of Americans have bills to pay, rent's due. What can you tell those people who are more concerned perhaps about the unemployment than you are the virus at this point, how can you assure them --- tell them when they can get back to work?

(….)

11:56 p.m. Eastern

PITTS: Mr. Vice President I have a final question for you. I --- and I ask this not in a political way, but for you, sir, like so many of us in our nation, are you a person of deep faith. No one doubts that. When you talk to God in your moments alone, do you find yourself worrying at all that people you represent and care deeply about have died and will die who did not need to because of steps the federal government did not take soon enough?

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, thank you for mentioning that we are talking about one American at a time and I promise you, that's the way President Trump thinks of this, it's the way I think of it. We wanted the American people to see the numbers so that we understand the challenging days that lie ahead, but I want people to know that our future is in your hands, that if every one of us will do and put into practice the Guidelines for America that we can bring those numbers down. I --- I really do believe we'll get through this and we'll come out stronger than ever before.

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