Did These Democrats Not Wear Masks at Barrett’s Hearing?

Photographs can be misleading, especially if you don't know when they were taken.

  • Published 14 October 2020

Claim

A photograph shows three U.S. Democratic senators in close proximity to one another and not wearing masks during Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing.

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Origin

On Oct. 14, 2020, a photograph supposedly showing three U.S. Democratic lawmakers in close proximity to one another while not wearing face masks was circulated on social media along with the false insinuation that it was taken during Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing. The misleading image reached a larger audience when it was amplified by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas:

This is a genuine image of three Democratic lawmakers not wearing masks. However, this photograph was taken long before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when wearing masks became widely recommended in the United States. 

This photograph was taken on Sept. 4, 2018, by Associated Press photographer J. Scott Applewhite. It shows Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, Cory Booker, and Richard Blumenthal, all Democrats, during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. 

The image was originally posted by The Associated Press with the caption:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., left, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., confer with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., seated, as Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee appeal to Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to delay the confirmation hearing of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)