When Vice President Mike Pence visited the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday, he was notably not wearing a face mask, despite the clinic’s policy requiring all visitors to wear a mask. On Thursday, Mother Pence did her wifely duty and claimed, contrary to all evidence, that her husband had no idea he was supposed to cover up his face. But according to Steve Herman, a Voice of America reporter and a member of the VP’s press pool, that’s what us lay people would call a lie, and what the New York Times would likely call a willful misinterpretation of the facts. And now Pence is very upset that Herman told the truth, and is threatening to retaliate unless he apologizes. Maybe Pence didn’t want to wear a mask to protect his very thin, increasingly mottled skin?
According to Herman, the Vice President’s staff notified journalists in advance of Tuesday’s visit that the “wearing of masks was required” by the clinic and to “prepare accordingly.”
Herman’s account has been verified by the Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the memo sent by Pence’s office to the Vice President’s press pool. “Please note, the Mayo Clinic is requiring all individuals traveling with the VP wear masks,” it stated. “Please bring one to wear while on the trip.”
Pence is naturally now throwing a temper tantrum and demanding that Herman apologize for doing his job and exposing Pence’s hypocrisy, which certainly tracks with the Trump administration’s disregard for both the truth and for journalists. More, from the Washington Post:
The tweet apparently enraged Pence’s staff, which told Herman that he had violated the off-the-record terms of a planning memo that had been sent to him and other reporters in advance of Pence’s trip.
Herman said he was notified by the White House Correspondents’ Association that Pence’s office had banned him from further travel on Air Force Two, although a spokesperson in Pence’s office later told VOA managers than any punishment was still under discussion, pending an apology from Herman or VOA.
But given that Herman waited two days after the trip to disclose the fact that the Vice President’s own staff ordered reporters to mask up for the visit to the Mayo Clinic, the only reason for Pence and his staff to be upset is that it makes them look like the dummies that they are. As the Post notes, “[T]here’s some question about how long the [off the record] obligation lasts—whether it is permanent or only applies to the period before and during the trip.”
On Thursday, Pence, who had claimed that part of the reason he didn’t wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic was because he wanted to “look [people] in the eye,” wore a face mask as he toured an auto plant that has been repurposed into a ventilator factory. I guess someone gave him a lesson in basic human anatomy!