Pollak: Mainstream Media Fixates on Fly After Mike Pence Trounces Kamala Harris in Debate

Mike Pence and the fly at the debate (Eric Baradat / AFP / Getty)
Eric Baradat / AFP / Getty

The surest sign that Vice President Mike Pence won Wednesday night’s debate against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was that the mainstream media didn’t want to talk about what was said.

Instead, they talked about a fly on Pence’s head.

The New York Times — the “paper of record” — published a post titled: “A fly sat atop Mike Pence’s head for two minutes during the V.P. debate.” It explained:

Vice President Mike Pence, his hair perfectly coiffed, never reacted to the fly’s appearance on the right side of his head. It stood out against his bright white hair, standing still for the most part but moving around slightly before, well, flying away.

A local TV news reporter from California clocked the fly’s screen time on Mr. Pence’s head at 2 minutes, 3 seconds.

The Atlantic opined in “The Man Who Pretended Not to Notice,” written by George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum:

We saw a weird moment where a fly landed on Pence’s snow-white hair—and the vice president did not react at all. No doubt, it’s a conundrum, what to do in such a situation. If Pence shooed the fly and the fly refused to shoo, that would be bad. So he did nothing. And that doing nothing somehow in one powerful visual moment concentrated everything. It symbolized the whole Pence vice presidency, the determined, willful refusal to acknowledge the most blaring and glaring negative realities. Through all of the scandals and the crimes and the disasters of the past four years, Mike Pence was the man who pretended not to notice. And now there was a fly on his head, and he pretended not to notice that too.

Vice.com claimed the fly “dominated” the debate: “Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris debated the fate of America for 90 minutes Wednesday night. But Twitter was abuzz about the fly—and Pence’s eye.”

(Pundits claimed one of Pence’s eyes looked pink.)

HuffPost tried to tell the story from the fly’s perspective:

Imagine you’re a fly. You’re zipping along and see a soft, white surface. You land and look up. You realize you’re at the 2020 vice presidential debate and you’re seated atop the head of Vice President Mike Pence.

This was the reality of one insect at the debate on Wednesday night.

This is why the media have lost the public trust.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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