On Thursday, in the wake of President Donald Trump announcing that he actually likes the way he looks in a protective face mask, Fox & Friends co-anchor Steve Doocy bemoaned the fact that America ever let mask-wearing become a political controversy. “For some reason, over the last couple of weeks, a month, masks have become political,” said Doocy.
Writing for The Daily Beast, Justin Baragona and Maxwell Tani pointed to a key source of politicization of masks — Doocy’s own network.
“Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. months ago, Fox News hosts and guests have repeatedly criticized face coverings—either by openly mocking them or by claiming mandated mask-wearing is an infringement on personal freedom, particularly by Democratic officials eager to control the population,” said the report. “During an April 24 broadcast of Hannity, for instance, guest host Mike Huckabee and Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy — both former Republican elected officials — groused about a then-new Houston mandate that would fine residents up to $1,000 if they didn’t wear a mask in public, calling it an example of local government ‘trampling the constitutional rights of American citizens.'”
In another incident, “primetime star Laura Ingraham — who was actually an early and vocal proponent of mask-wearing — insisted that donning face masks had become a way for Democrats and liberals to enforce incessant panic. ‘Now Rush Limbaugh made a great point, as he always does, on the radio the other day and he said the virus itself as it weakens and states start reopening, the media that have been selling panic, panic, panic for weeks and weeks and weeks, they have fewer images to sell their hysteria to justify continued lockdowns,’ she said on the April 29 broadcast of The Ingraham Angle. ‘But the masks, well they’re kind of a constant reminder. You see the mask and you think, you are not safe. You are not back to normal. Not even close.'”
Fox News’ criticism of masks tracked well with President Donald Trump’s previous refusal to be seen wearing them. Two weeks ago, he even suggested state masks requirements were part of a plot to make him look bad.