Pence staff threatens action against reporter after tweet about VP without surgical mask
Vice President Pence’s office has reportedly threatened to punish a reporter who tweeted that the office told journalists to wear a face mask during Pence’s trip to the Mayo Clinic this week, where the vice president himself did not wear a mask during his visit.
Steve Herman, a reporter with Voice of America (VOA), tweeted Thursday that “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,” sharing a tweet from Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts saying that second lady Karen Pence told “Fox & Friends” that Pence was not aware of the Mayo Clinic’s policy.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) April 30, 2020
Pence defended his decision Tuesday not to wear a face mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, saying that he is “tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus.”
“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you,” he told reporters.
Pence’s office reportedly told Herman that his tweet violated the off-the-record terms of a memo used for planning the trip. The document was distributed to him and other reporters via email Monday, The Washington Post reported.
Herman said the White House Correspondents’ Association told him that the vice president’s office banned him from future travel on Air Force Two. However, a spokesperson for Pence’s office told VOA that any punishment was “still under discussion,” related to an apology from Herman or the outlet.
Yolanda Lopez, the director of VOA’s news center, said the outlet is still speaking to Pence’s office, The Washington Post reported.
A copy of the document sent to reporters ahead of the trip read, “Please note, the Mayo Clinic is requiring all individuals traveling with the VP wear masks,” and asked, “Please bring one to wear while on the trip,” The Washington Post reported. The document was also marked “OFF THE RECORD AND FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY.”
“My tweet speaks for itself,” Herman said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “We always have and will strictly adhere to keeping off the record any White House communications to reporters for planning purposes involving logistics that have security implications prior to events. … All White House pool reporters, including myself and my VOA colleagues, take this very seriously.”
Beyond Herman’s tweet, Gordon Lubold, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, tweeted Thursday, “Also, everyone in the entire Mayo Clinic had a mask on, everyone, and we were all told the day before we had to wear a mask if we entered the clinic.” He was not questioned by Pence’s staff, according to The Washington Post.
also, everyone in the entire Mayo Clinic had a mask on, everyone, and we were all told the day before we had to wear a mask if we entered the clinic https://t.co/cNW4fJ87Q4
— Gordon Lubold (@glubold) April 30, 2020
Updated at 9:59 a.m.