ABC, NBC Admit Mask Reversal a ‘Messaging Problem’ Hurting Vaxxing

With President Biden’s CDC trying to force masks back on the vaccinated, there was understandable outrage and pushback from the public. But while CBS Evening News chose to approach the opposition as just a side effect of the move, ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News actually criticized the administration for causing their own “messaging problem” that harmed their efforts to get people vaccinated.

NBC was the first to be publically critical of the move. During the evening newscast, the day of the announcement (Tuesday), chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander admitted it was a terrible look for the administration. “When the White House declared this a summer of freedom this is not the message they wanted to deliver just a month later,” he said.

He went on to explain that the move could set back their vaccination effort because it removed a “major incentive”:

Tonight, due to those rising cases here in D.C. even vaccinated White House staff must now wear a mask indoors. And its likely President Biden will start wearing one, too. This is obviously a critical moment for this White House struggling to convince hesitant people to get the vaccine, now taking away what had been a major incentive.

 

 

After leaving the mask mandate recommendation to stew for a couple of days, Biden conducted a press conference Thursday where he spread more confusion and misinformation and snapped at Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy for a question calling out his mask backtracking:

DOOCY: In May, you made it sound like the vaccine was the ticket to losing the mask forever.

BIDEN: That is true at the time, because I thought there were people who were going to understand that getting vaccinated made a gigantic difference. And what happened was, a new variant came along, they didn’t get vaccinated, it was spread more rapidly, and more people were getting sick. That’s it.

It was that moment that ABC fill-in anchor Cecilia Vega keyed in on, noting it “really seemed to get under his skin.” And she gave a very enthusiastic “let’s watch” as she introduced the soundbite.

“The President clearly not happy there. Rachel, he says the recommendations are changing as the science evolves, but the White House realizes they have a messaging problem here,” she said to congressional correspondent Rachel Scott.

After Scott lamented the fact “this is a clear reversal” and “there is no way around this,” she seemed to gripe that “You already have Republicans today calling it an overreach.” This was her sympathizing with how “the President is frustrated by this,” whereas they would mock the frustration if it were former President Trump.

“He told me tonight that if he could wave a wand and have every single American vaccinated and we would be out of the woods, but the reality is, there is more work to do,” she concluded, ignoring how he snapped at her during the press conference and hinted that her question was pedestrian.

The transcripts are below, click “expand” to read:

NBC Nightly News
July 27, 2021
7:05:16 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: And Peter Alexander is at the White House right now. Peter, a big change there.

PETER ALEXANDER: Yeah, Lester, that’s right. When the White House declared this a summer of freedom this is not the message they wanted to deliver just a month later.

Tonight, due to those rising cases here in D.C. even vaccinated White House staff must now wear a mask indoors. And its likely President Biden will start wearing one, too. This is obviously a critical moment for this White House struggling to convince hesitant people to get the vaccine, now taking away what had been a major incentive. Lester?

HOLT: Peter Alexander, thank you.

ABC World News Tonight
July 29, 2021
6:37:09 p.m. Eastern

CECILIA VEGA: We want to go to the White House now and ABC’s Rachel Scott. Rachel, we saw President Biden today once again in a mask, but it was a question about a statement that he made earlier this year that anyone who got vaccinated would no longer have to wear a mask that really seemed to get under his skin. Let’s watch.

[Cuts to video]

PETER DOOCY: In May, you made it sound like the vaccine was the ticket to losing the mask forever.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: That is true at the time, because I thought there were people who were going to understand that getting vaccinated made a gigantic difference. And what happened was, a new variant came along, they didn’t get vaccinated, it was spread more rapidly, and more people were getting sick. That’s it.

[Cuts back to live]

VEGA: The President clearly not happy there. Rachel, he says the recommendations are changing as the science evolves, but the White House realizes they have a messaging problem here.

RACHEL SCOTT: Yeah, Cecilia, and you can see it from his response. The President is frustrated by this, but there is no way around this. This is a clear reversal. You already have Republicans today calling it an overreach.

And the President knows that the success of his administration will be judged in large part by his response to this virus. He told me tonight that if he could wave a wand and have every single American vaccinated and we would be out of the woods, but the reality is, there is more work to do.

VEGA: Rachel Scott, at the White House tonight. Thank you, Rachel

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