“Thank you for the great reviews of the @ABC News show last night!” President Trump tweeted the morning after a town-hall event with George Stephanopoulos that Laura Ingraham described as an “ambush.”
Fox News daytime host Sandra Smith seemed to have a different take when she spoke with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday and repeatedly grilled her on various instances during which Trump seemed to hurt his own case that—despite what you may have heard him tell Rage author Bob Woodward—he’s actually been “up-playing” the coronavirus pandemic.
The anchor began with Trump’s claim that “herd mentality” would make the virus “disappear,” even without a vaccine. “Is the president going at it on his own with these forecasts or do the medical experts advising him agree with those forecasts?” Smith asked.
Deftly ignoring the president’s obvious mistake, McEnany told Smith, “Well, the term herd immunity is a medical term, which means that when you have a certain percentage of a population have antibodies, you have herd immunity. And it can be done via a vaccine or via prior illness, that you develop the antibodies.” She repeated, “It’s a medical term.”
Then came Trump’s dismissive stance on masks. “A lot of people don’t want to wear masks,” he said in the town hall. “A lot of people think masks are not good.” When Stephanopoulos asked who those people are, the president replied: “Waiters.”
“Doesn’t this just give critics more room to criticize the president for going against the science?” Smith asked, stopping just short of becoming one of those “critics” herself. “The science, Dr. Fauci and others say mask-wearing is a good thing to protect the spread of this virus.”
In response, McEnany pointed to comments Dr. Anthony Fauci made all the way back in March about the relative effectiveness of wearing masks. But as Smith pointed out, the medical consensus has evolved since then as scientists have learned more about how the virus spreads.
“I think this point is, though, that Dr. Fauci today says wearing a mask is a good thing,” Smith told her. “And couldn’t that accidentally lead someone in the public to think that the president says something this is not a good thing to be wearing a mask, particularly a waiter at restaurants as restaurants try to reopen across the country?”
Without missing a beat, McEnany said, “No,” because Trump has called mask-wearing “patriotic” and “had done it himself” a handful of times in public. “He’ll encourage it, but he’ll also note the unintended consequences,” she added.