OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
A clearly frustrated Sen. Ted Cruz lectured a reporter and slammed the podium after being asked why he and several other Republican senators gathered with him were not wearing masks, going on to say the same question should also be put to President Joe Biden and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who also speak maskless during press conferences.
“I think there’s been wild hypocrisy from the Biden administration when it comes to COVID policy,” the Texas Republican began. “Whether mask mandates, where Joe Biden rightly said we shouldn’t have mandates, whether vaccine mandates where Joe Biden said we shouldn’t have vaccine mandates.
Cruz then gestured to fellow Republicans standing around him: “As far as I know, everyone here’s been vaccinated. We’ve been double vaccinated and boosted…”
A voice off-camera, presumably a reporter, attempted to chime in, but Cruz cut them off.
“And at some point…look. I do know Dr. [Anthony] Fauci [chief Biden administration medical adviser] has been all over the map on it. He’s said, ‘Yes mask,’ ‘No mask,’ he said, ‘Oh, I lied to the American people, they couldn’t handle it… You know, at some point, the American people oughta be able to exercise their own freedom and make their decision.”
Continuing, Cruz said, “If you wanna wear a mask, God bless you. You can wear a mask for the rest of your life, that’s your choice. But other people oughta be able to have the right and choice not to wear a mask.”
The senator from Texas then pivoted to the president and his administration, charging the media with hypocrisy for never questioning them or other Democrats about being maskless.
“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, thumping the podium.
“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,” he said, thumping the podium again.
The reporter began her question by pointing out what she called the “glaring visual” of most of the assembled media, who were wearing masks indoors, according to Fox News.
Sen. @tedcruz responds to a PBS reporter asking him why Senate Republicans aren't wearing 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?'" pic.twitter.com/qUZFD3ePCZ
— Logan Ratick (@Logan_Ratick) January 11, 2022
After receiving his COVID-19 vaccine, Cruz declared in April 2021 that he would no longer wear a mask, along with Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.).
“At this point, I’ve been vaccinated. Everybody working in the Senate has been vaccinated,” Cruz told a CNN reporter.
The reporter responded that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommended, at the time, that vaccinated people wear masks in public.
“CDC has said in small groups, particularly with people who were vaccinated don’t need to wear masks,” Cruz said.
The previous month, a reporter chided Cruz during a press conference, saying that everyone would feel more “comfortable” if he would mask up.
“Uh, yeah, when I’m talking in front of the TV cameras I’m not going to wear a mask,” Cruz told the reporter. “And all of us have been immunized, so… You’re welcome to step away if you like. The whole point of a vaccine … CDC guidance is what we’re following,” he added.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in a segment on the network following the exchange, ripped Cruz.
“So when he’s not wearing a mask, he’s potentially putting other people in that room at risk. It’s as simple as that … When enough people have been vaccinated, when we’ve reduced viral transmission rates low, that’s when we can start to probably pull back on this,” he said.
As Fox News pointed out then, neither he nor host John Berman mentioned that Biden, Psaki, and others in his administration regularly spoke to reporters without masks.