As riots and protests raged outside the White House Thursday night during and after President Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention speech, CNN reporter and longtime Trump foil Jim Acosta was worried — worried about the well-being of people who were at the event.
He lamented after the speech that many people’s lives and health could be at risk.
His concern was that people at the White House rally were not wearing masks or socially distancing and that the president’s RNC speech could become a “super-spreader event.”
On Friday morning, that appeared to be the main concern of CNN’s “New Day” panel, where the guests focused not on the chaos in the streets but on the “alarming” scene of mask-less event attendees sitting close to each other outdoors.
What did they say?
Despite the fact that many (though certainly not all) rioters and protesters were mask-less and not socially distanced while screaming at and attacking people on the streets just outside the White House, Acosta was determined to explain to the country how dangerous the Trump speech was — both in rhetoric and in coronavirus terms.
“We not only heard a lot of gaslighting tonight, we possibly saw and witnessed some super spreading from this event,” Acosta reported. “I talked to a senior White House official earlier this evening about all of these people — hundreds of people — sitting side by side in the audience not wearing masks.”
Acosta then went on to claim that the official just figured everybody was going to get the virus one way or the other.
“The senior White House official brushed off these concerns about the lack of social distancing at the president’s speech tonight,” Acosta reported, “saying — and get this, this quote might blow you away — ‘Everybody is going to catch this thing eventually.’ Those are the words coming from a senior White House official about the concerns being raised about this being a possible super-spreader event tonight.”
The next morning, his CNN colleagues on “New Day” also set the riots aside to share Acosta’s worry that what was really dangerous Thursday night was the RNC event.
Asked what he was thinking about when he saw the crowd at the president’s speech — though not asked what he thought when he saw crowd marching and rioting in the streets — and the lack of masks and social distancing, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, warned that the event may well cause the deaths of people who attended.
“The history books will be written about this chapter in our lives at some point, and it will show events like that say that in the middle of a pandemic — at a time when the country decided to shut down when there were 5,000, roughly, people who were infected — and at a time when there were more than 5 million infected, we started having events like that again,” Gupta lamented. “It’s really frustrating. It’s mind-boggling.
“Chairs were six inches apart. People were not required to be masked. They did not have to be tested,” he continued. “It was risky for them. It was a risk that they were posing to others.”
Gupta predicted, “There will be people who became infected as a result of that event last night, and there’ll be people who will spread it and possibly require hospitalization, may even die.”
Fellow panelist New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said, “The number of mask-less people last night was alarming.”
“This is obviously not an issue the president thinks that he can win on. It’s not an issue that the president’s advisors think that they can win on,” she said, blasting the administration’s treatment of COVID-19. “They know that if they are talking about the coronavirus, they are probably not on a winning side. And that is their cold, political calculation.”