During a Monday night appearance on Fox News, GOP Rep. Devin Nunes blamed “media freaks” for criticism he received after encouraging Americans on Sunday to “go out” to their local pubs despite coronavirus concerns.
“So, what I was saying is you have empty restaurants,” the Calif. congressman explained to Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “You can go through the drive-thru or do takeout. It’s a great place to go. The media freaks can do what they want.”
Nunes also noted the “media freaks” actually “don’t have a clue what’s going on out in the real world”: “We have a problem out here because we have people standing in line for 45 minutes at Costco.”
On Sunday, Nunes didn’t mention drive-thrus when he told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, “There’s a lot of concerns with the economy here because people are scared to go out, but I will just say, one of the things you can do if you’re healthy — you and your family — it’s a great time to just go out. Go to a local restaurant. Likely, you can get in easily.”
Nunes added, “Let’s not hurt the working people in this country that are relying on wages and tips to keep their small business going. So, don’t run to the grocery store and buy, you know, $4,000 of food. Go, you know, go to your local pub.”
Nunes’ comments were especially alarming — not just to “media freaks” — because they contradicted what medical experts have advised, which is social distancing. In fact, hours later, the governor of the state Nunes represents in Congress called for all bars and breweries — and, yes, local pubs — to close, as well as for restaurants to limit their capacities by half. On Monday, President Donald Trump himself advised Americans to limit gathering in groups and stay home.
Nunes was criticized not only for his initial comments but for the walk-back, too. NBC News’ Sahil Kapur called his Monday night claim that he’d meant for people to go to drive-thru restaurants “a flat-out lie.”
Devin Nunes clarifies his comments from this weekend and says he meant you could go for takeout/drive-thru despite saying you could take your family and get in easy. pic.twitter.com/GizfR1BvT0
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) March 17, 2020