NBC News senior media reporter Dylan Byers drew the ire of social media users Wednesday after he downplayed the growing controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to a San Francisco hair salon that had been shuttered by local ordinances put in place due to coronavirus.
In security footage obtained by Fox News and timestamped Monday at 3:08 p.m. PT, the California political powerhouse is seen walking through ESalonSF with wet hair, and without a mask over her mouth or nose. During an appearance on MSNBC that night, Pelosi criticized President Trump for giving his Republican National Convention acceptance speech before a live audience on the South Lawn at the White House.
On Wednesday, the speaker remained defiant, insisting she was "set up" and calling on the business to apologize.
While critics accused Pelosi of not practicing what she preaches, Byers mocked the outrage in a Twitter post.
"America is beset by internal problems and external threats," he wrote. "We face severe political and cultural tensions, a global pandemic and threats from foreign adversaries. But I, for one, believe there is no issue so pressing today as a legislator's visit to a San Francisco hair salon."
The NBC media reporter then also swiped at a CNN article suggesting Pelosi had handed President Trump a "campaign gift" with her salon dustup.
"I mean seriously, wtf is this?" Byers reacted.
Byers quickly received a Twitter beating for his response to the story.
"Journalists like Dylan are why Pelosi decided to try to just brazen her way through this," Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy tweeted.
"'Senior media reporter' at NBC/MSNBC thinks draconian government mandates destroying small businesses — and the leaders' flouting of rules that others are having their lives and businesses destroyed over — are silly little nothing stories," The Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway wrote.
"The most powerful Democrat in the country, flouting her city COVID rules including not wearing a mask, rules she has demanded everyone else follow, while people can't go to funerals, school or work, then turning around & blaming the business & you don't think this is a story," conservative commentator Stephen Miller told the NBC reporter.
"I mean tens of millions of people were put out of work by these restrictions. It's a totally understandable thing to be annoyed about," journalist Zaid Jilani said.
"NBC News reporter @DylanByers trying to wish away a story that he would be raising hell over if an elected female Republican did this," NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck exclaimed. "No one is saying this is the only story we should be talking about today. Dylan almost certainly knows this, but doesn't care. All gaslighting!"
During an exclusive interview with Fox News Tuesday, salon owner Erica Kious cast Pelosi’s visit as part of a double standard.
“It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can’t work,” Kious told Fox News, adding that she “can’t believe” the speaker didn’t have a mask on. (From the footage, it appears Pelosi had some kind of covering around her neck.)
“We’re supposed to look up to this woman, right?” Kious said. “It is just disturbing.”
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.