Steve Doocy, a longtime co-host of the Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends” is rarely critical of President Donald Trump. But on Tuesday, he offered the president some constructive criticism, suggesting he wear a mask to set a “good example” during the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 126,000 people in the U.S.
Doocy told Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel his friends in New Jersey and New York, “where we have to wear a mask all the time,” keep telling him: “I wish the president would put on a mask every once in a while, just because it would make him look as if he’s taking it seriously and is listening to the CDC.”
Doocy said he knows Trump is tested all the time, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made it clear: “masks work.”
‘We will err on the side of freedom’:Arizona mayor says he won’t cancel events, nor require masks
“More states every day are mandating people, their citizens, to wear masks and I think that if the president wore one it would just set a good example,” Doocy said. “He’d be a good role model. I don’t see any downside to the president wearing a mask in public.”
McDaniel said the president has worn a mask at points and “obviously, is taking this incredibly seriously.” She defended the president, saying steps such as restricting travel from China saved lives and that the administration was trying to balance safety with reviving the economy.
“Sure. And I think by wearing masks, you can keep the economy open and closing things are the last thing anybody wants to do,” Doocy replied. “MAGA should now stand for Masks Are Great Again.”
Trump has resisted wearing a mask in public, saying it would not appear presidential. He told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month that he thinks some people wear masks as a political symbol of opposition to him rather than as a health precaution. And he expressed concern that they are not hygienic.
Doocy has been one of Trump’s most stalwart defenders on cable news. In March 2019, The New Yorker reported that Trump rated the loyalty of Fox News’ hosts and reporters on a scale of one to 10, and he gave Doocy a 12.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is another Trump ally who is urging the president to don a mask.
“Unfortunately this simple lifesaving practice has become part of a political debate that says: If you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask. If you’re against Trump, you do,” Alexander said Tuesday during a hearing on the COVID-19 outbreak.
“That is why I have suggested the president should occasionally wear a mask even though there are not many occasions when it is necessary for him to do so,” Alexander said. “The president has millions of admirers. They would follow his lead. It would help end this political debate. The stakes are too high for it to continue.”
When asked Sunday if Trump and Vice President Mike Pence should be wearing masks to set an example, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., told ABC News, “It is important that there’s a consistent national message to take this seriously: that we are going to wear masks, that we’re going to set that example.”
“You can have two messages at the same time,” Hutchinson said. “Your message is: ‘Let’s grow our economy, but let’s also have the message of social distancing, protecting ourselves and others from the virus.'”
Hutchinson said Pence set a “good example” by wearing a mask recently.
After leaving mask-wearing out of list of preventive measures people can take during a White House coronavirus task force news conference on Friday, Pence wore a mask when he stepped off the plane when he arrived in Dallas on Sunday.
“If you can’t maintain social distancing – if you’re going to be within 6 feet of people for more than 15 minutes, it’s just a good idea to wear a mask,” Pence said later that day at a news conference with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
The White House has defended the president’s decision not to wear a mask as a “personal choice.”
A CBS News poll conducted last week found 40% of Americans view wearing a mask as a “personal health choice,” while 60% think it is a “public health responsibility.”