No, Mike Pence Did Not Deliver Empty Boxes To A Nursing Home For A Publicity Stunt

A viral clip from comedian Jimmy Kimmel was edited to remove some important context.

BuzzFeed News has reporters across five continents bringing you trustworthy stories about the impact of the coronavirus. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.

Vice President Mike Pence visited a nursing home facility in Virginia on Thursday, meeting with staff and unloading boxes of personal protective equipment, or PPE, from FEMA.

He was joined at Alexandria's Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center by Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Navy Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, vice director for logistics for the military.

FEMA is currently delivering PPE to 15,400 nursing homes across the country, with the facilities hit hard by the coronavirus.

After the vice president greeted the nursing home administrators (at a socially distant 6 feet), he helped unload a van containing the boxes before the cameras.

On his Thursday night show, late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel used a clip of Pence at the nursing home to suggest there was nothing inside the boxes.

"Since it was going so well and also because he didn't realize he had a mic on, Magic Mike decided to keep it going," said Kimmel. "Listen in closely here."

Kimmel then cut to video showing the vice president inquiring about the last boxes in the van before being told they were empty.

"Well, can I carry the empty ones? Just for the camera?" Pence can be heard saying.

Kimmel then said, "Mike Pence pretending to carry a big box of PPEs into a hospital is the perfect metaphor for who he is and what he's doing: a big box of nothing, delivering another box of nothing."

The show later tweeted the clip but deleted it Friday after BuzzFeed News contacted ABC for comment.

On Friday morning, the clip went viral on Twitter. One tweet alone suggested Pence had been "caught on hot mic delivering empty boxes" was shared tens of thousands of times and viewed more than 1 million times.

But the clip was selectively edited by Kimmel's team.

The full clip from CSPAN clearly showed Pence, along with Verma and Polowczyk, loading and unloading boxes of some weight.

Then, as Pence returns to the van one final time, he makes the comment about the empty boxes and immediately smiles as those around him laugh.

When the man helping to unload the van says, "Absolutely," that same man then says jokingly, "They're a lot easier," to more laughter.

Pence then immediately closes the van door. He does not proceed to carry any of the boxes he was informed were empty.

A representative for Kimmel's show did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did staff for Vice President Pence.

According to the press pool traveling with Pence on Wednesday, his staff said the boxes contained 137 pairs of eye protection, 1,267 masks, and 5,800 pairs of gloves.

BuzzFeed News also contacted Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, but on Facebook the facility did thank Pence for his visit and the supplies.

Jon Thompson, a campaign spokesperson for Pence, accused Kimmel of misleading the public.

"This is absolute garbage spread by @JimmyKimmel," he tweeted. "Pence is clearly joking about empty boxes & if Kimmel showed the full clip from CSPAN, not the one he selectively edited, you see and hear it."

Kimmel later issued a tongue-in-cheek apology.

it would appear that @vp was joking about carrying empty boxes for a staged publicity stunt. The full video reveals that he was carrying full boxes for a staged publicity stunt. My apologies. I know how dearly this administration values truth.

Pence's visit before the cameras on Thursday came a day after White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told House Democrats to act in good faith and not perform PR stunts.

"We don't have time, in the middle of a pandemic, for publicity stunts," she said. "It's not the time for that. It's not the place for that."

Topics in this article

Skip to footer