Here’s the story behind the viral video of the boy who was ‘bopped’ by Mike Pence


(Photo: WhiteHouse.gov)

By J.G. Noll

Yesterday, the Vice President, Second Lady, and Ivanka Trump greeted military families at a tea held in honor of Military Appreciation Month. Most families left with photos and memories of the event; however, one military kid became a viral sensation after the Huffington Post published video of the child’s unusual encounter with Vice President Mike Pence.

In the video, a boy in a white shirt stands at Pence’s side while he speaks to the group. During the remarks, Pence spreads his arms to the side and accidentally bumps the boy’s face. Throughout the rest of the video, the boy follows behind Pence as he greets children, politely asking for an apology. The Vice President eventually apologizes, saying, “Oh, I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to bop you.”

The video brought immediate reactions from conservatives and liberals, trolls and conspiracy theorists and has been viewed, after less than 24 hours, more than one million times. Everyone has an opinion about the video. . . but we wanted to get to know the kid behind the bop.

We reached out to Ingrid Herrera-Yee, the mother of Michael, the boy in the white shirt. Herrera-Yee’s name might be familiar–she’s the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance National Guard Spouse of the Year.

Michael is a ten-year-old military child in the fifth grade. On the autism spectrum, Michael was nonverbal for the first half of his life, learning how to speak around age five. He also has other medical diagnoses, including nearly fatal seizures. He experienced PCSing and bullying related to moving and his medical conditions.

Fascinated with history, Michael was thrilled to get the chance to see “the people’s house” as he calls it, for himself. Michael was in awe of everything happening around him. From meeting the BOTUS– Bunny of the United States–to treats of ice cream, brownies, and lemonade, the day was one of excitement. At one point, the military children were called to the front of the room, and his mom encouraged him to go up, too. “He was particularly taken by Vice President Pence,” Herrera-Yee said.

While explaining the series of events, Herrera-Yee laughed: “This [Michael’s actions] is totally him. This is him with anyone. This is what he does with his brothers, his friends, just about anyone he meets.”

His sense of dry humor and his insistence on being polite–and showing others that he has manners–were the driving forces behind the encounter. “So for him it was just a matter of, ‘You bonked me in the head, you should apologize for that because that’s what everyone does; that’s what you’re supposed to do.'”

She emphasized that there was no political bent or any ulterior motives when it came to the exchange. “Anyone who knows him [and saw the video] was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s just Michael.'”

Michael and his mom thought nothing of it. . . until later that night they saw the video online. Michael “dissolved into tears,” Herrera-Yee says. He was consumed with worry that he would become a negative internet meme and that people would make fun of him.

After a long conversation with his mom, Michael came to terms with his sudden stardom, although he was confused how anyone could have heard what he said–he wasn’t wearing a microphone. Today, he went to school and spoke about his trip to the White House and his teacher showed the video to the class. They made the choice to ensure that students could view it under adult supervision in case anyone had questions. Herrera-Yee heard from his teacher that–unlike the nameless keyboard warriors commenting on the video–his classmates have been positive and supportive.

“To go from not having a voice from autism to being so articulate–” Herrera-Yee broke off mid-sentence, contemplating everything that has happened. “He’s just got this inner joy. . . He’s my heart.”

Watch the video here:

18 Comments

  1. Michael is adorable! You have taught him well. Anyone who “bops” someone else, accidentally or otherwise, should apologize. Michael did the right thing.

  2. I am not a fan of Pence or the presidency he represents. I have an autistic children. But I think this is exploitation of a situation in which neither of them has anything to apologize for. Pence obviously did not deliberately ignore this child, anyone listening to this can see it would have been very hard to hear anything. Please, progressives, don’t make a big deal out of this inadvertent unfortunate situation. There are FAR FAR more important deliberate wrongdoings going on in this administration. Don’t give Republicans something legitimate with which to hammer Democrats. Take your pick of situations where they are DELIBERATELY hurting children like Michael.

  3. Brenda this is in response to a major “news” source calling him a snowflake. Who did tell on him? Pence? Does he also want to attack Democrats through a child? I’d say that’s pretty legitimate form of showing your hateful nature. This child has now been cyberbullied. His mother was able to protect him because he’s ten. She wasn’t able to keep it from his 15 year old brother. The video had to be viewed in school to prevent it from being a source of school bulling. The young man wasn’t even verbal until the age of 5. He’s autistic. Something the Vice President didn’t know.

  4. It’s terrible that CNN News is trying to make this a negative story about our vice president. I find it awazing that after the election where Mr. Trump became OUR President, suddenly there seems to be no national or world wide news for the 24 hour news cycles to report on. It is even more rediculous that they all seem to have tunnel vision and are only willing to report on Trump and those in his administration. All I can figure is the media is going with the ‘no news is good news’ angle. This is not a major news story to be reporting on. I just watched Jake Tapper (CNN) interviewing this boys mom and he was literally acting as if this was child abuse situation.

    1. I saw the Jake Tapper piece just now also. Fox News owes this boy and his family an apology for calling him a stalker snowflake. Period. End of story. Decency and integrity, folks.

    2. I saw the CNN piece, and can only conclude that you did not. Jake Tapper and the child’s mom went out of their way to compliment the Vice President on the way HE interacted with Michael, and saved their criticism — justifiably — for the talking head on Fox News who displayed not only her own stupidity but her total lack of class in deciding to pick on a ten-year old and his parents without knowing a single fact. You are right that this — meaning the ORIGINAL incident — was not worth commenting on. But comment she did, and I have no problem holding a supposed adult accountable for what she chose to say about a child to justify the 10 minutes of fame she thought it would get her in the conservative bubble.

    3. The negativity wasn’t toward pence but towards fox news, who took it upon themselves to denigrate and ridicule a 10 year old boy. If you bothered to listen to Tapper, he complimented pence on how he handled the situation. In this situation, with the negativity directed towards the boy and his family, it is a child abuse situation. As anyone whose ever read comments on fox news stories can attest, the negativity directed towards any criticism of anything trump is vitriolic at best. I can only imagine the type of comments that have been written or voiced bout this boy.

    4. Did you watch Cathy? Tapper along with everyone that watched this with me complimented the VP and the “lighthearted” moment between Pence and the boy after. I thought it was adorable. Calling him a stalker and a snowflake is remarkable, there’s zero dignity at Fox News. The mother’s plea was kind and soft spoken all in concern for her son. This family deserves respect not bullying. Should this kiddo see that news and the names he was called, he may opt to not talk! He was so brave standing at the front right NEXT to our Vice President. C’mon Kathy.

  5. CNN is not trying to make an issue of it. I just heard Jake Tapper state that the VP handled it very gracefully. In my world “gracefully” means that he handled it in a kind and caring manner. The issue is how FOX NEWS handled it.

  6. And so what if he wasn’t autistic. Public attack of children’s mistakes on media are inappropriate. Especially considering what children face these days. They are always under attack.

  7. That’s awesome! I love that the boy asked for an apology! Him and his mom should be proud! It’s nice he doesn’t see a difference. Whether it was another kid, a janitor or the Vice President, he deserved an apology and he got it. Good for him!

  8. Wow, someone bumped into me at the grocery store, and they didn’t realize it…I guess I should of stood there and demanded an apology. If people live their lives demanding an apology every time someone accidently brushes them or breaths on them, this would be a world of people that feels they were always owed an apology “or owed something”! If aware of getting in some ones personal space “good people apologize! Mike Pence is a good person! Any child whoever they are, should respect adults…and to over and over again DEMAND an apology is rude, considering where he was and why, Maybe the children shouldn’t of been allowed to HUDDLE around Mike Pence, This boy couldn’t of stood any closer, actually he was in Mike pence’s space. I believe this child should act like a child and “allowed” to be a child! His mother and her poor us attitude, will only in the long run hurt this child’s social behavior in the future!

    1. I’m done on here after reading someone like Debi saying this military family has a “poor us” attitude. Kid looked pretty respectful and so did Pence. I think all you read CNN, Pence, a mother and her son involved and made a judgment. Terrible.

    2. Debi,

      Jugemental and ignorant:
      Speaking for all us parents who raise
      Non neuro typically child.

      Nothing would give me more pleasure, then to have you live ( only to observe)
      a minimum of 2 yrs with a family who’s child is on the spectrum.

      Your ignorant opinions not only hurt parents who are struggling, but perpetuate bullying and shaming!

      What a great role model you must be!

  9. I think it’s fine to request an apology. I doubt Mr. Pence was even aware of it until the boy said something. It was an accident. Pence gave the apology and all was well until the video was out. The child was naturally quite upset when the video went viral and with what has transpired now we know he had every right to be because someone would make fun and people did. The woman at Fox just used poor judgement in calling the child a snowflake. This young man is part of the military family. If I bump into someone and realize it, the polite thing to do is apologize. If they come up to me and told me I bumped into them then I would apologize like Pence did. That’s just manners. It’s not snowflake. Asking for an apology is not snowflake. Very few people these days have manners and a young man who stands up for manners is very refreshing. He was polite in saying “excuse me”. The media tried to use this video to make Pence look bad then the Fox reporter makes her tasteless comment. Now of course, the rest of is are giving our .02 and we shouldn’t even have to since all of this didn’t need to be on video in the first place.

  10. The biggest point is not political in the slightest.

    Nearly every media outlet that posted this story used the words: Hit, Punched, Whacked, Smacked etc. simply for clicks. It in deed make the kid sound like a little spoiled brat as they also made it sound like he hunted Pence down. Hearing facts about his condition paint a different picture.

    Typical Media.

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