CNN, Washington Post use Republicans 'seize' narrative on Stacey Abrams maskless photo

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Media top headlines February 8

In media news today, a CNN panel bashes Stacey Abrams over a maskless photo at school, Spotify CEO’s apology letter to employees over Joe Rogan gets slammed as contradictory, and James Carville says he wants to punch unvaccinated people in the face.

Some liberal media outlets chose to focus on Republican criticism of Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ maskless photo with a group of school children over the weekend as opposed to the controversial photo itself.

Abrams visited Glenwood Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, on Friday to read from her new children’s book. Decatur area schools require staff and students wear masks due to COVID-19. So when a photo of Abrams sitting and smiling among masked school children appeared on Twitter, she received swift backlash.

But some media outlets were quick to come to her defense, pivoting to the motives of her Republican rivals.

“GOP rivals seize on Stacey Abrams’s maskless classroom photo as her campaign calls criticism ‘silly,’” a Monday morning Washington Post headline stated. 

“Nevertheless, her Republican opponents and conservative commentators seized on the image, pointing out what they characterized as the hypocrisy of a candidate being photographed without a mask despite supporting them in schools,” the article read. 

A Monday CNN article similarly said that Abrams’ political opponents “seized the opportunity to pounce” on the gubernatorial candidate. 

Stacey Abrams, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, leaves after meeting U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, during a stop at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., March 19, 2021.
(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

CNN’s Bakari Sellers defended Abrams on Monday, saying that he would “definitely not” be outraged if his kid was in the classroom. 

“Stacey Abrams is not trying to harm children, she was not flaunting regulations purposefully,” Sellers said on CNN’s “New Day,” adding that Abrams was going to “lose a week or two having to deal with this issue, which for the most part is a non-issue.” 

“New Day” co-host Brianna Keilar, however, did ding Abrams for the controversial photo op, while Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Patricia Murphy said she “recoiled” when she saw the image. But Murphy went on to say how “ridiculous” it was that Republicans were “rushing in to pile on” Abrams considering they’ve opposed mask mandates. Republicans argue that they are confronting Abrams not for going maskless, but for not following her own COVID rules.

“I don’t want to see an adult in an elementary school without a mask on,” Murphy said. “At the same time, Republicans rushing in to pile on Stacey Abrams is a little ridiculous because Republicans in the state have pushed against mask mandates.”

Masked students wait to go to their classroom during the first day of class at Stanford Elementary School in Garden Grove, CA on Monday, August 16, 2021. (Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
((Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images))

Yet some media pundits chose to condemn instead of defend Abrams, such as the co-hosts of ABC’s “The View,” who criticized Abrams during Monday’s broadcast. Joy Behar said she was surprised and that Abrams “slipped up,” Sunny Hostin called her actions “hypocritical” and co-host Ana Navarro said it was a “stupid thing to do.” 

Others suggested the photo of Abrams could easily be used as campaign fodder and ultimately hurt Democrats at the polls. CNN host John King, for instance, said the decision to appear maskless in front of a group of children was “a gift” to Republicans. 

Brian Robinson, a Republican political consultant, told NBC News that “this is a horrible issue for Democrats, because they have attached wearing a mask to morality. You’re a bad person if you don’t wear a mask.” 

Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who defeated Abrams in the 2018 governor’s race, also slammed his former opponent, saying she “wants state government mask mandates for Georgians and their children.” 

“But it looks like they wouldn’t apply when she’s attending a photo op,” Kemp said on Twitter. 

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams expects a judge to rule in favor of her federal lawsuit regarding provisional ballots and absentee ballots, as well as delaying vote certifications.
(AP)

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Abrams criticized Kemp’s decision to ban mask mandates in July of 2020 and said that it showed “incompetence” and “immorality.” She also said Kemp’s decision “proves his incompetence.”

“Stacey trusts science and supports masking in schools as it’s the current CDC recommendation,” Abrams’ campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said. 

The Abrams campaign said that she was wearing a mask at the event and only took it off  for a few photos so that students who attended virtually could understand her, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

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