More mixed Covid-19 messages from the leaders in the US


Following President Trump’s “sarcastic” suggestions on injecting disinfectant, we have Vice President Pence threatening to punish the reporter who proved his office ignored the rule that he needed a mask to visit the Mayo Clinic.

Tom Porter

US Vice President Mike Pence’s office threatened to punish a reporter who exposed that it knew Pence was supposed to wear a face mask for his visit to the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday.

Pence, who leads the White House’s coronavirus task force, has been widely criticized for flouting official guidance and not wearing a mask during his visit to the renowned clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Karen Pence, the vice president’s wife, has defended her husband, saying in a Fox News interview on Thursday that he was unaware of the clinic’s rule requiring visitors to wear a mask or face covering.

But in a tweet on Thursday, the Voice of America reporter Steve Herman said Pence’s office knew all along about the face-mask rule.

“All of us who traveled with him were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly,” he wrote.

Herman later told The Washington Post that the White House Correspondents’ Association told him Pence’s office had barred him from traveling on Air Force Two, the vice president’s plane.

The Post reported that Pence’s office alleged Herman had violated an off-the-record agreement by publicizing a planning document for the visit; for security purposes, such documents are not typically made public.

Pence’s office later told VOA that it had not finalized the ban but was considering imposing punishment if Herman or VOA did not apologize for sharing the information, The Post reported.

Brett Bruen, the White House director of global engagement in the Obama administration, tweeted that the planning information for the hospital visit was in the public domain and not off the record.

Amid the fallout from his Mayo Clinic visit, Pence was pictured wearing a mask during a visit to a hospital in Indiana on Thursday.