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Remember All of This If & When Donald Trump Inevitably Starts Saying He Always Supported Wearing Masks

Donald Trump frowns and gives a thumbs up to a reporter.

In recent days, a number of influential Republicans have made statements supporting the use of face masks. At an event in Texas this weekend, Mike Pence said that “wearing a mask is just a good idea,” and that “we know, from experience, will slow the spread of the coronavirus.” (Of course, he went from that event to a rally where a choir of 100 people sang without masks but I guess we’re taking baby steps here.)

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Mitch McConnell tweeted his support of mask-wearing Monday, writing: “We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people. Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter.”

This shouldn’t seem like such a big deal, but it’s a major divergence from Donald Trump’s anti-mask campaign. He’s spent months attacking and politicizing mask-wearing. But as the number of reported cases in the U.S. continues to surge, especially in areas that tried to go back to business as usual early on, his opposition to masks puts him in the minority, even among Republicans, and even Trump’s most sycophantic allies are starting to back peddle. And I would not be at all surprised if Trump follows suit.

We all know that this is Trump’s standard MO: Say something inflammatory, wait for the backlash, claim he never said that thing, do some semantic gymnastics to support his denial, accuse the media of lying about his original statement. It seems incredibly likely that he’ll do this with masks as well.

He does have a few statements he can point to if he decides to call his anti-mask stance fake news. He has a number of tweets from earlier this spring about supporting an increase in mask production—although that was specifically about PPE for medical workers, a fact that will probably be ignored if he chooses to dredge those back up.

At a press briefing in early April, he did say that the CDC recommends wearing a face covering and I’ll bet he uses that quote at some point to support his 180. Of course, he’d have to edit out the part of that press conference where he repeatedly stressed that mask usage was voluntary and that he himself would not wear one because he didn’t like the image it projected. But he’s never had a problem with manipulated media.

So he may have a few select quotes he can twist to make it look like he’s always supported masks. But there’s a lot more he’d have to ignore.

Like how he repeated (multiple times) the false claim that masks can hurt more than they help slow the virus.

Or how he refused to wear a mask in front of the press because he said he didn’t want to “give them the pleasure of seeing it,” which only reinforces the idea that this is an issue of egos, not public health.

There was the time he said that he thinks some people only wear masks to signal disapproval of him, further politicizing the issue.

Here are some things he retweeted to his 82+ million followers:

Obviously, Trump isn’t solely responsible for the intense politicization of masks, but he is an incredibly influential person so his role in this unnecessary and dangerous one-sided culture war has been huge. So I want him to backtrack and support masks! Hell, if he decided to cash in and make a ton of money selling MAGA masks, I wouldn’t even care. Anything to get people to wear masks in public would be great.

I would love it if Trump started supporting face coverings. I just know that if and when he does, it’s going to come with a whole lot of hypocritical attacks on Democrats, leftists, and the media for having held him accountable for the things he said and did that have resulted in so many totally preventable deaths. And we don’t have to let him off the hook for that, especially with an election looming.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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