Instead of actually even attempting to answer the question, at a Wednesday press conference at the White House about the Coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller opted to mock reporter Brian Karem over a question of whether or not uninsured Americans can get tested for the disease. It’s been weeks since the virus was first detected in the U.S., but testing is only just now getting off the ground at a large scale — and yet, a high-ranking staffer for the vice president himself prioritized their apparent personal annoyance over actually dealing with Karem’s acutely pressing question.
‘Can the uninsured get tested?.. Gentlemen, ladies…Can the uninsured get tested?’
Miller shot back:
‘Screaming for the camera can’t get you anywhere.’
Video clearly indicates that her suggestion that he was “screaming for the camera” is completely incorrect. No one else in the room was even speaking up at the time of her retort. Karem essentially had the floor.
After her mockery, he replied:
‘Well how about an answer to the question! It’s a valid question. Can you answer it?’
The vice president’s team ignored the question. Watch:
This was probably not picked up most cable network coverage.
"Can the uninsured get tested?"
"Gentlemen, ladies…Can the uninsured get tested?"
WH staffer(?): "Screaming for the camera can't get you anywhere."
These people. SMH. pic.twitter.com/zBxPmPrCsn
— Ivan the K™ (@IvanTheK) March 4, 2020
The question has particularly acute relevance given recent reporting that Senate Republicans were hesitating to even support emergency funding to deal with the virus because of a demand included in the funding legislation that companies charge only a “fair and reasonable” price for supplies. Yet, neither Pence nor any of his aides actually answered the question — all they had was mockery for the very idea of the millions of uninsured Americans represented by the question.
Pence has claimed that some 1.5 million Coronavirus tests will be available by the end of the week. The House has come through with their own approval of an emergency funding package to support the virus response efforts, and it was set to head over for Senate consideration right away. The legislation includes $8 billion, which is significantly larger than the $2.5 billion that the Trump administration initially requested, which lawmakers from both major parties derided as not enough.
Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) commented:
‘This should not be about politics; this is about doing our job to protect the American people from a potential pandemic. We worked together to craft an aggressive and comprehensive response that provides the resources the experts say they need to combat this crisis.’
The “fair and reasonable price” demand remained in the finished legislation, despite initial resistance.
Yet, Miller’s mockery of Karem’s simple question is not the only mishap surrounding the administration’s actual response. During a Wednesday interview on Fox, President Donald Trump himself offered a smorgasbord of nonsense claims, including a suggestion that the 3.4 percent fatality rate reported by the World Health Organization is supposedly “false.” In other words, he appears to have roped even the World Health Organization into his claims of a conspiracy to make the situation look worse than it really is. The evidence that he cited for that claim was a personal “hunch” that he had — and this is the guy we’re supposed to be trusting to help lead the Coronavirus response? Seriously?