A large crowd assembled to watch Vice President Mike Pence deliver his Republican National Convention speech at Maryland’s Fort McHenry on Wednesday night. There wasn’t a mask in sight.
“As we did last night in the Rose Garden, it’s worth pointing out, anybody around the president and the first lady gets tested, the COVID-19 test,” Fox News’ Bret Baier told viewers after Pence had finished speaking. “We assume everybody in this area did. We don’t have that nailed down, but we assume that’s the case.”
Turns out, that assumption was incorrect.
On CNN, Wolf Blitzer said, “It’s so sad and potentially so dangerous to see a few hundred people who have gathered there, supporters of the president. They’re very close together. They’re not wearing masks.” He added, “And we know there’s going to be a much bigger crowd tomorrow on the South Lawn of the White House when the president makes his presentation.”
CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins confirmed that there was no requirement for attendees of Pence’s speech, which was also attended by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, to be tested. Explaining that about 135 people watched Pence’s speech, Collins said, “The attendees are sitting pretty close to one another, they’re not wearing masks. We spoke to at least four of them who had not been tested for coronavirus before coming to this event.”
“What you just saw after the vice president ended his speech,” she continued, “is the president and the first lady were down walking face-to-face, interacting with several of the audience members, many of whom are not wearing masks tonight. It was kind of striking to see just how closely they were interacting, given we’re not convinced every single person in the audience has been tested tonight.”
“Yeah, I’ll say again, it looked very dangerous, very risky to me,” Blitzer added. “There were plenty of older people there. I’m sure a lot of the people had underlying health issues that they need to worry about, but they were there and they weren't wearing masks.”
Rachel Maddow, meanwhile, expressed concern about the elderly veterans in the crowd during MSNBC’s post-speech broadcast, “especially after what happened at the Tulsa rally and other Trump events when they have gone out of their way to try to portray a visual image of a world and a country that’s gotten past the COVID threat when we really haven’t.” She added, dramatically, “I feel like we’re watching chronicles of a death foretold here.”
Before turning the reins over to Laura Ingraham on Fox, Baier did ultimately correct his initial error. “We should point out that not everyone, we’re told, was tested in that crowd,” he clarified later. “We don’t know the mix.”
After he spoke, Vice President Pence could be seen fist-bumping random members of the crowd who had all lined up against the front barrier to take photos and congratulate him on his speech.