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The coronavirus pandemic has gone on more than two years, and the emotional fights over masking have spilled over into many memorable media moments.
From “Saturday Night Live” to “The View” to an MSNBC camera crew, here are 10 memorable media moments involving the fierce face-covering debate.
Sunny Hostin suggests she’d want to hit Ron DeSantis for telling teenagers to take off their masks
As part of what one watchdog called a “meltdown” in liberal media, “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin seeemed to suggest Thursday that she would have hit Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R., if he had spoken to one of her children the way he addressed teens at a University of South Florida event this week.
“You do not have to wear those masks,” DeSantis told masked high school students Wednesday as he walked up to a podium at the University of South Florida. “Please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything. We’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”
DeSantis’ brusque tone raised media hackles, and Hostin said she might have done something that was not “legal” if she had been present.
“He gave them bad public health information,” she said. “If that were my kid there, I don’t know what I would do … I don’t know if it would be legal. It’s just so inappropriate to see that from a leader. I would go nuts.”
‘Saturday Night Live’ pokes fun at masking, coronavirus theatrics
A skit on the NBC comedy show last week showed three sets of couples nervously admitting out loud that perhaps the rhetoric over shifting science, dining regulations, and arbitrary mask rules was nonsense all along.
After one character brings up an article that potentially mask mandates had no effect on the virus, the eaters become anxious and start to question conventional wisdom on vaccinations and masks.
“Look, I went to a child’s birthday party, self-careful,” says a woman played by Kate McKinnon, “and they did gymnastics in masks … and then they went into another room and took off their masks to eat pizza — this is the end of me — so did they really need the mask or no? DID ANY OF US EVER NEED THE MASK?”
A similar skit in 2018 mocked liberal anxieties over discussing the possible pitfalls of the #MeToo movement.
MSNBC host declares one month before Biden went maskless at State of the Union that it’s ‘gaslighting’ to say people don’t want mask mandates
A defiant Mehdi Hasan defended a tweet last month calling for keeping mask mandates in schools and expanding the Supreme Court, and cited a survey that showed a majority of Americans still wanted indoor mask mandates.
“The majority of Americans wear masks and want mandates, and anyone who tells you otherwise, Republican or Democrat, is gaslighting you,” he said.
Less than a month later, President Biden could be seen without a mask, laughing and shaking hands with maskless Democrats after his State of the Union address. More Democratic-led states are lifting mask mandates indoors and in schools as well.
Bill Maher says he’s done: I don’t want to live in your ‘masked paranoid world’ anymore
HBO host Bill Maher infuriated liberal media members in January when he effectively said he was done with COVID, criticizing the “masked paranoid world” some people were still living in.
“I don’t want to live in your paranoid world anymore, your masked paranoid world. You know, you go out, it’s silly now. You know, you mask, you have to have a card, you have to have a booster, they scan your head. Like you’re a cashier, and I’m a bunch of bananas. I’m not bananas. You are,” Maher said.
Independent journalist Bari Weiss agreed, as the two decried the prolonged lockdowns and continued masking rules that have defined the past two years, with Weiss calling it a “pandemic of bureaucracy.” Both are fully vaccinated and have touted their effectiveness – Maher got coronavirus late last year but had mild symptoms – but have stood out in the media with their desire for a return to normalcy.
“The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg, CNN’s Jim Acosta, MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, and other media figures fumed over Maher and Weiss afterward.
“How dare you be so flippant, man?” an outraged Goldberg said.
Sara Haines suggests she’ll wear masks indoors permanently
“The View” co-host Sara Haines remarked in January that part of the “new normal” in the COVID and post-COVID era could mean people like her engaging in permanent indoor mask-wearing.
“I may never ride a subway again without a mask. I may never go indoors to big crowds and ever feel comfortable without a mask, and that’s up to me to do that,” Haines said.
On Twitter, after a news site clipped her remarks, Haines maintained she opposed shutdowns, school closures and mask mandates for future, less severe variants of the virus like omicron, given the availability of vaccines.
Liberal media scolds Youngkin for fulfilling campaign promise to end mask mandates in schools: ‘Kids will die’
Newly inaugurated Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R., received withering criticism in liberal media circles in January after fulfilling a campaign pledge to allow parents to opt out of school mask mandates.
In one particularly over-the-top moment, CNN analyst and former Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart declared “kids will die” as a result of Youngkin’s decision.
Liberal media figures have repeatedly overstated the danger of COVID-19 to children, couching their hyper-caution in concern for the well-being of youngsters. But mask-wearing, particularly for younger children, has repeatedly been shown to have harmful side effects for people who are already at a miniscule risk of severe coronavirus outcomes.
Ted Cruz slams podium over reporter’s mask questions: ‘Just once’ I’d like you to ask Biden, Psaki about that
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, lost his temper after a masked reporter wondered why Cruz and other Republicans addressing the media were maskless in January.
During a press conference speaking out against Democrats trying to eliminate the filibuster, a reporter questioned Cruz about him and his fellow Republicans not wearing masks. Cruz quickly shot down the question and asked why the “questions are only directed at one side” on masks.
“And by the way, on the question of hypocrisy, you just asked, you people at the podium are speaking without masks. Just once, I’d like to see a reporter say to Joe Biden when he stands at the damn podium in the White House without a mask, ‘Mr. President, why aren’t you wearing a mask?'” Cruz said angrily. “Just once, I’d like to see you say to Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, when she stands at the podium with no mask, ‘Ms. Psaki, why don’t you have a mask?’ The questions are only directed at one side, and I got to say that the American people see the hypocrisy.”
Cruz even slammed the podium for emphasis.
‘Fauci groupie’ Nicolle Wallace boasts she brings a mask wherever she goes, has them in ‘every pocket’
Left-wing MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace declared herself a “Fauci groupie” and revealed she brought a mask wherever she went in a widely mocked segment on “Deadline: White House” in December.
“I’m a Fauci groupie,” Wallace said. “I’m thrice-vaccinated, mask adherent. I buy KN95 masks by the, you know, caseload. They’re in every pocket. I wear them everywhere except when I sit down.”
Wallace went on to say she feared she would still get the omicron variant of the coronavirus, at a time when many liberal media members simultaneously realized the disease was likely endemic.
Fully vaccinated Joy Reid touts wearing two masks outdoors while jogging
MSNBC’s Joy Reid set a standard for COVID virtue-signaling in the media when she bragged to a guest that she wrote multiple masks while jogging outside, despite the extremely low level of outdoor transmission and being fully vaccinated.
“I am among the fully vaccinated, joined team Pfizer, and I did go jogging today in the park, and this is the mask that I wore with a doctor’s mask under it,” Reid said last April, holding her mask in view of the camera.
“And most of the people that I saw that were in the park — the park was packed — I would say 95% of the people still had masks on,” she continued. “Should people be freaking out that some people like myself who are vaccinated are still wearing masks outdoors? Should we do that?
“Definitely not,” Dr. Vin Gupta responded.
MSNBC camera crew busted after reporter scolds Wisconsintes for not masking outdoors
In a preview of the cultural mask fight to come, MSNBC correspondent Cal Perry was called out by a bystander after fretting during a live segment that “nobody” was wearing a mask while enjoying Memorial Day weekend in Lake Geneva, Wis., two months into the pandemic.
“They’re not worried about their own personal safety?” MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked from a studio.
A masked Perry said directed his camerman to show a Green Bay Packers-jersey-clad man maskless, saying, “As you can see, nobody’s wearing them.”
“Including the cameraman,” the man responded, adding that “half your crew’s not wearing them.”
Perry threw his hands up as he acknowledged the man was correct.
Fox News’ Brian Flood, Lindsay Kornick, Brandon Gillespie, and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.