Delivering a report from the White House on Friday’s edition of The Situation Room, CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta scolded White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany for saying that she would not be wearing a mask at President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ironically, as Acosta criticized McEnany, who described the decision to wear a mask as a “personal choice,” the CNN reporter apparently made the same “personal choice,” as he was not wearing a mask.
This is hardly the first time the media have demonstrated hypocrisy on the use of masks. Just last month, Acosta’s CNN colleague Kaitlan Collins scolded President Trump for not wearing a mask as he spoke to reporters outside. Later that day, Collins was caught ripping off her mask as soon as the White House press briefing, which took place indoors, came to a conclusion; indicating that she only saw wearing a mask as a photo-op.
Before Acosta began his report, host Wolf Blitzer expressed concern that the President was “moving ahead with a huge indoor event, despite a record one-day increase of cases in that state and warnings that his rally could be a super-spreader of the virus.” Once again, Blitzer’s analysis epitomizes another media double standard. The liberal media has portrayed a Trump rally as a huge public risk yet had no such concerns about the spread of coronavirus at the massive protests that have taken place in major cities in recent weeks.
Blitzer also accused Trump of “threatening anyone who protests his rally…suggesting they’ll be treated harshly.” Acosta took it a step further by claiming that that “the President is threatening some of the protesters who will demonstrate outside the rally, saying they may be roughed up” and warning that “the President is ready to unleash the same kinds of brutal tactics used to clear out Lafayette Square earlier this month.” In fairness, Acosta’s report did include a clip of McEnany clarifying that the President’s “threat” only applied to “violent protesters, anarchists, (and) looters.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Friday’s edition of The Situation Room is below. Click “expand” to read more.
The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer
WOLF BLITZER: Also breaking, President Trump appears to be threatening anyone who protests his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma tomorrow night, suggesting they’ll be treated harshly. He’s moving ahead with a huge indoor event, despite a record one-day increase of coronavirus cases in that state and warnings that his rally could be a super-spreader of the virus. Several states are seeing all-time high increases in new cases, including Florida. That reported nearly 4,000 new infections just today. Let’s go straight to the White House. Our Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us. Jim, the Oklahoma Supreme Court just refused to stop the President’s rally tomorrow night. And now he’s moving full steam ahead.
JIM ACOSTA: That’s right, Wolf. President Trump is moving forward with his plans to hold a rally tomorrow in Tulsa, despite the very real risk that some of his supporters will catch the coronavirus. Today, the White House Press Secretary said she will be at the event and will forgo wearing a mask; even as public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci say that’s a very bad idea. In the meantime, the President is threatening some of the protesters who will demonstrate outside the rally, saying they may be roughed up.
ACOSTA (voice-over): With Trump supporters lining up for his rally in Tulsa this weekend, the President is issuing a warning to demonstrators who may show up at the event as well, tweeting: “Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene.” An apparent threat that the President is ready to unleash the same kinds of brutal tactics used to clear out Lafayette Square earlier this month. White House officials attempted to clarify.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: What he was meaning are violent protesters, anarchists, looters, the kind of lawlessness that we saw play out before President Trump came in with the National Guard and calmed our streets with law and order.
ACOSTA: White House officials are also trying to downplay the risks of catching the coronavirus at the rally at a time when cases are spiking in Oklahoma. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany even said she won’t be wearing a mask to the event.
ACOSTA (on camera): Will you and other White House officials be wearing masks at the rally?
MCENANY: It’s a personal choice. I won’t be wearing a mask. I can’t speak for my colleagues.
I feel that it’s safe for me not to be wearing a mask, and I’m in compliance with CDC guidelines, which are recommended, but not required.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But members of the Trump team aren’t on the same page.
KEVIN HASSETT: If I were at the rally, I would wear a mask.
POPPY HARLOW: Okay.
HASSETT: And if I wondered about it, I would ask my doctor…
HARLOW: All right.
HASSETT: …for advice.
ACOSTA: Even campaign manager Brad Parscale says he’ll likely wear one at the event.
STEVE DOOCY: You going to wear a mask?
BRAD PARSCALE: Yes. Yes, I will probably be…
PARSCALE: …wearing a mask.
ACOSTA: Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS Radio people in large crowds should wear a mask if they cannot practice social distancing.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: The best way to protect yourself and to prevent acquisition of and spread of infection is to avoid crowds, to avoid crowds. If in fact, for one reason or other, you feel compelled to do that, which we don’t recommend, then wear a mask at all times.
ACOSTA: The White House is also defending the President’s tweet exploiting video of two young toddlers hugging one another to take pot shots at press coverage of racism in the U.S. In a rare rebuke of Mr. Trump, the tweet, which included phony news graphics, was labeled “manipulated media” by Twitter.
ACOSTA (on camera): When you share fake videos like that, doesn’t that make you fake news?
MCENANY: I think the President was making a satirical point that was quite funny if you go and actually watch the video.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The White House also tried to explain what the President meant when he told The Wall Street Journal that he had just learned the history of Juneteenth, the day the end of slavery is celebrated in the U.S., from an African-American Secret Service agent.
MCENANY: He did not just learn about Juneteenth that…this week. That’s simply not true.
ACOSTA: And an update on a story we have been following. Pentagon officials have decided to fire the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Brett Crozier, who tried to warn his superiors about the coronavirus spreading aboard his ship. The Navy’s decision is a major reversal after a preliminary investigation recommended that he be reinstated. And one other follow-up, Wolf, and we can show this to our viewers if we have it ready. We…we have just found out in the last several minutes Twitter has decided to disable the video that was tweeted out by the President of those two toddlers, that video the President was trying to use to make some sort of point about press coverage of racism in the U.S. That video, though, has been disabled by Twitter, the social media web site saying in a statement essentially on the video that has been knocked down that it violates copyright rules of the web site. And so, for right now, this very controversial video that the President tweeted out has been disabled by Twitter, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yeah, that is pretty significant as well. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.