President Biden’s new climate envoy, John Kerry has been branded a “hypocrite” after he was pictured going maskless on an American Airlines flight to Washington D.C.
Kerry defended himself, and dismissed the concerns as “malarkey” after The Tennessee Star published a maskless photo of him onboard a plane flying first-class from Boston to D.C. on Wednesday.
The airline requires all passengers to wear masks on board, in accordance with mask policies pushed by Biden’s Jan. 21 executive order – those who are found in violation can face fines ranging from $250 for the first offense up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.
In a Fox News report, a passenger on the flight who wished to remain anonymous told the outlet they saw Kerry wearing his mask while at the boarding gate, but took it off shortly after boarding ahead of other passengers.
“I salute our Very Special Presidential Envoy for Climate for not flying private, but instead flying first class commercial with the rest of us common folk,” said the passenger. “And while he can’t bring himself to follow his own party’s mask restrictions, we should cut him some slack.”
“Being an elite hypocrite is hard work!” the passenger added. The plane was mostly full, the passenger said.
The passenger did not see any of the flight attendants onboard instructing Kerry to put his mask back on, but noted that Kerry later wore it for most of the flight, Fox reported.
According to The New York Post, Bryce Strahorn, a passenger who sat in the aisle seat next to Kerry, said he was “fairly confident” the widely circulated photo was taken “when we were still boarding. He was taking a few work calls before we pushed off.”
“We exchanged pleasantries when we sat down, but both of us were on our phones, then eventually caught quick naps in flight. A few people came up to shake his hand and introduce themselves,” Strahorn said.
Kerry responded to the photo on Twitter, saying he only uncovered his face for a short time.
“Feels like there’s some St. Patrick’s day ‘malarkey’ afoot on Twitter. Let’s be clear: If I dropped my mask to one ear on a flight, it was momentary,” Kerry, said.
‘I wear my mask because it saves lives and stops the spread. It’s what the science tells us to do.’
American Airlines is reportedly looking into the matter.