UPDATED: This story has been updated to add Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry's response.
White House special envoy on climate John Kerry was caught with his mask off on an American Airlines flight on Wednesday, in an apparent violation of the rules laid out by the Biden administration and the airline itself.
After critics on social media blasted the former secretary of state for hypocrisy, American Airlines vowed, "We're looking into this."
Hours after the story broke, Kerry issued a statement calling the uproar "malarkey."
What are the details?
The Tennessee Star first reported that Kerry was spotted in first class on a flight from Boston to Washington, D.C., when a fellow traveler took a picture of the official seen apparently reading without any food or drink in sight. Airline passengers are allowed to remove their masks while consuming food or beverages, in accordance with federal and airline policies.
@TheTNStar Exclusive: Biden’s @ClimateEnvoy John Kerry, took off his mask as he settled into a book in his first-cl… https://t.co/kXjZds5pcb— ReporterMcCabe (@ReporterMcCabe)1616007195.0
Fox News caught up with the person who snapped the photo to confirm its authenticity. The individual, who wished to remain anonymous, told the outlet:
"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. 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 Washington Examiner reported:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order that went into effect last month that requires passengers to "wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking public conveyances. People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States."
American Airlines issued a press release shortly after, saying the company would fully comply with the new federal mandate, noting that the regulation will also help its employees in enforcing the rules.
The Washington Examiner reached out for comment from Kerry's office but did not receive an immediate response.
Hours later, however, Kerry tweeted from his official account, "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. I wear my mask because it saves lives and stops the spread. It's what the science tells us to do."
Feels like there’s some St. Patrick’s day “malarkey” afoot on Twitter. Let’s be clear: If I dropped my mask to one… https://t.co/cwbpbgTSaI— Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry (@Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry)1616024556.0
What was the reaction on social media?
Once the image of Kerry hit the internet, it brought out waves of critics who blasted the hypocrisy of both Democrats and airlines over the climate czar appearing to have been handed a pass on a rule that is stringently enforced against the common man.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, there have been numerous accounts of Democratic politicians being caught flouting their own rules, and carriers banning passengers for not wearing masks — including autistic children.
As Twitter users called out American Airlines over the ordeal, the airline replied more than once that they would be "looking into" the situation with Kerry.
One critic tagged the airline in a tweet saying, "Just remember that @AmericanAir would harass YOU if YOU dared to remove your mask aboard one of its aircraft. Kerry, like every other Democrat, gets a pass while YOU suffer!"
The airline responded, "We require masks on board our aircraft and are looking into this."
🚨🚨🚨 ACTIVE INVESTIGATION INTO MASK BANDIT JOHN KERRY https://t.co/Ru5szfIGJ9— Arthur Schwartz (@Arthur Schwartz)1616013570.0
In another response regarding the picture of Kerry, American Airlines tweeted, "Masks are required on board our aircraft, and we are looking into this."