MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson repeatedly grilled the vice president’s chief of staff Marc Short on Thursday over the lack of masks at Mike Pence’s Republican National Convention speech, prompting the top aide to accuse Jackson of “mask shaming” veterans.
Shortly after Pence’s Wednesday night RNC address at Fort McHenry, it was reported that there were no requirement for attendees to have been tested for the coronavirus. The crowd, which totaled 135 people and featured a number of elderly veterans, was largely devoid of face masks and didn’t appear to practice social distancing.
While interviewing Short about the veep’s speech, Jackson brought up the fact that Pence mingled with the crowd afterward, pointing out how Pence was even spotted exchanging fist bumps with some.
“Was everybody at the speech tested for COVID prior?” Jackson asked.
“The people who were backstage with the president and vice president were tested,” Short replied. “Others were given guidance, their seating was socially distanced and gave guidance on masks and also some other measures, temperature checks taken beforehand.”
“But you know, Hallie, I do think because the vice president gave such a strong speech and laid out such a stark difference it’s no surprise the media wants to focus on mask shaming this morning,” he further grumbled.
The MSNBC host attempted to interject, telling Short that he was “misunderstanding” and that she wasn’t “mask shaming,” but asking about coronavirus testing. The Pence aide, however, continued to speak over Jackson as she pushed him to answer her question.
“The fist bump is a wounded warrior who served our country and is a hero and if he puts his hand out to ask for a fist bump I don’t think it’s a surprise the vice president is going to do that,” Short sneered.
Jackson, meanwhile, said that nobody has an issue with that but that the real question is whether or not the people in the front rows of the speech were tested for the virus. Short insisted he had already answered the question, causing Jackson to fire back: “No, you didn’t!”
After Short reiterated the guidance that was given to the attendees, Jackson plainly asked if this meant “in plain English” that there was no testing.
“There were some that were and it was not universal because again, the buffer was there to keep the president and vice president from the rest of the crowd,” Short responded, again brushing off Pence’s interaction with the crowd.
Elsewhere in the combative interview, Jackson pressed Short on the dismissive remarks he made about NBA players walking out of playoff games in protest of the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake. In an earlier CNN appearance, the Trump aide scoffed that the Trump administration didn’t care about the players’ wildcat strike, calling it “absurd and silly.”
Asked by Jackson how his comments could be seen by the Black community as dismissive and offensive, Short shrugged and claimed he was merely trying to show a contrast that the players have taken a position on racial injustice but “basically embrace the Communist Party of China’s participation with the NBA.”