Many members of the mainstream media criticized the staging of the White House event where President Trump was to accept the Republican Party’s renomination for president, citing concerns about its legality and the lack of social distancing.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Republican National Convention was initially moved from Charlotte, N.C. to Jacksonville, Fla. before the idea of a four-day in-person extravaganza was scrapped due to a spike in cases across the Sun Belt. While part of the convention was still held in Charlotte, it was determined that President Trump would give his speech on the fourth and final night at the White House.
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A large stage was built on the South Lawn and approximately 1,800 people were in attendence. Critics were quick to express their disapproval that the White House would host such an openly political event.
“I’m practically speechless, here,” ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl began. “I have been covering the White House on and off for two decades. I have seen senior White House officials refuse to even comment on political campaign issues because they thought it would be in violation of the law to do that from the White House grounds … and here we have the entire South Lawn of the White House transformed into the hall, the venue, for a national political convention.”
“Trump wants people to see the White House as his, the presidency as his, and Biden as a usurper. It’s the power of incumbency taken to new levels — and it’s pretty obvious that multiple people must be violating the law in order to make this happen,” Washington Post national correspondent Philip Bump tweeted.
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“They’re using our tax dollars for their political campaign. They know it’s illegal but they don’t care—because they control the Executive Branch and Congressional Republicans won’t do anything about it,” Politico columnist Renato Mariotti agreed.
Several journalists blasted the event for the lack of social distancing and minimal mask-wearing by attendees.
“This is in insult to every person who makes the effort to mask and social distance in the name of public health,” CNN contributor Amanda Carpenter stated. “Pre-k children are doing more on this front than you will see the audience do tonight. This is so saddening. Makes all the sacrifice feel like it’s for nothing.”
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“It’s a pandemic except in trumpworld where everyone is in denial,” Daily Beast editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast tweeted.
“In addition to being illegal it’s also an act of self immolation, which perfectly explains the entire Trump cult,” New York Times contributing op-ed writer Wajahat Ali said. “They will burn it all down, including themselves, for whiteness and power. No masks. No social distancing. During a pandemic. White Supremacy is so dumb,”
“Very little social distancing,” CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta wrote. “Very few masks in sight on the south lawn of the WH for Trump’s speech.”
Many even invoked the recent death of Herman Cain by questioning who among the high-profile attendees would die from the coronavirus. Cain, who died July 30, had attended an indoor Trump rally in Tulsa, Okla. ten days earlier, though it was never determined that he became infected at the campaign event.
“These maskless pictures from the WH lawn are truly terrifying. Who will be the Herman Cain of this?” New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser asked.
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“No masks and chairs touching at White House. When will Republicans learn that superspreader events lead to deaths? Trump Tulsa rally caused surge in covid and Herman Cain died of covid after being there. Insanity is doing the same thing over & over & expecting a different result,” MSNBC contributor Jill Wine-Banks wrote.
“Herman Cain would have loved to be at this event,” The Nation contributor Joshua Holland tweeted.
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The media has long been criticized for condemning Trump events, anti-lockdown protests, and religious gatherings for lacking social distancing while withholding judgment over the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests across the country. It was not clear if similar comments were made about a large anti-Trump rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House Thursday night.