Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News Wednesday morning to heap praise on her boss for what news anchors have been calling his “new tone” in the previous day’s coronavirus task force briefing—his first in several months. She was met with some unexpectedly tough pushback from host Martha MacCallum.
“I think it was incredibly important for the president of the United States to provide information to the public, not confrontation with some press people there who were asking questions that had nothing to do with the development of vaccines and therapeutics,” Conway said, perhaps alluding to the question about alleged sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell that prompted Trump to admit he’s met her “numerous times over the years” and to say, “I wish her well.”
When the White House counselor started lecturing “all those people out there who are resisting wearing a mask,” telling them, “you’ll get your liberties back sooner if you wear your mask,” MacCallum cut in to press her on why it’s taken so long for the president to arrive at this messaging.
“But Kellyanne, I guarantee you there are people at home who will listen to that and say, why didn’t the White House have this message for all of us two months ago?” MacCallum asked pointedly. “Why now? Why wasn’t this pushed and emphasized and encouraged by the president back then when it might have made even more of a difference?”
“The president did say in April if people want to wear a mask, they should wear a mask,” Conway replied, though that is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the basic safety precaution. She then pivoted, as Trump did in his Chris Wallace interview last weekend, to blaming health officials who “early on” said it “wouldn’t help.” That guidance, of course, was revised long before the president first wore a mask in public this month.
Conway then revealed that just yesterday in the Oval Office, Dr. Deborah Birx had to explain to the president that the research is conclusive that wearing cloth masks helps stop the spread of the virus.
Noting that Trump, unlike most Americans, has the luxury of getting tested and receiving rapid results daily, Conway said, “We know that the president is COVID-negative, we don’t know that about the rest of the country. So we’re asking people to wear masks.”