Donald Trump’s rally in Henderson, NV, didn’t get the kind of coverage that his most recent events have for one good reason: It was indoors, with many of his supporters not wearing masks and not socially distanced.
Out of health concerns, the major broadcast and cable networks kept their correspondents outside the rally.
“NBC News reporters did not go inside the rally and we will continue to follow and monitor prevailing public health guidelines regarding large indoor gatherings as we have since the start of the pandemic,” said a network spokesperson. An ABC News source said, “We do not go inside rallies.” Fox News’ Jonathan Hunt reported from outside the event.
CNN’s Brian Stelter reported on Reliable Sources on Sunday that Trump’s defiance of social distancing guidelines had forced news outlets to make some “tough decisions” on how to cover the events, forcing them to rely on a pool camera instead of sending correspondents and crews inside.
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Among those who did attend: Dana White of Ultimate Fighting Championship and Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars. They were shown in an AP photo sans masks.
The event was held at the Xtreme Manufacturing facility, but the state’s governor, Steve Sioslak, said that it was in violation of orders to limit gatherings to no more than 50 people. “This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves,” Sioslak said in a statement.
The president addressed the health concerns in an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal. I’m on a stage and it’s very far away,” Trump said. “And so I’m not at all concerned.”
But the thousands who gathered for the event were packed in together. As some noted, supporters were wearing masks behind the president as he spoke, but that was not the cast for those in the other parts of the space.
“Indoor rallies are irresponsible. Covid-19 is real and this was a bad idea,” Ari Fleischer, a Fox News contributor who was President George W. Bush’s press secretary, wrote on Twitter.
On Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Sandra Smith asked a Trump campaign official, Erin Perrine, about why the decision was made to hold the rally indoors.
Smith asked, “Biden’s camp obviously making the case this could be a super spreader event. The governor has called it shameful, dangerous and irresponsible to do this. Why do it?”
Perrine said that the campaign had temperature checks, hand sanitizer readily available and masks for everyone who attended.
“If you can violently riot in the streets, if you can violently protest in the streets, if you can go and gamble in a casino without any health or safety precautions, then the president can stand in front of supporters and have a conversation with them about what’s at stake here in 2020,” she said.
But Smith said that “it sounds like I have to say two wrongs don’t make a right.” She noted that the gathering went against the administration and CDC guidelines.
“We take health and safety seriously, and for those who can’t join the president in person, they can do so online safely as well,” Perrine said. “Our message will get to the American people and how they choose to join us is up to them.”
Trump’s last indoor rally was in June in Tulsa, OK, where the campaign saw lower-then-expected attendance. The Washington Post reported that six advance staffers and three Secret Service agents working on the Tulsa event tested positive for COVID-19. Herman Cain, a Trump campaign surrogate, attended the rally and died in July from complications related to COVID-19. That led to speculation that he contracted the virus there, but the editor of Cain’s website, Dan Calabrese, said that Cain also did a lot of traveling and “I don’t think there’s any way to trace this to one specific contact that caused the infection. We’ll never know.”