Did Gavin Newsom Pull A Boris Johnson With Magic Johnson
Although most reasonable people follow COVID-19 restrictions, few actually enjoy them, and fewer still like it when their elected officials ignore the rules. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been condemned for enjoying multiple Lost Weekend-style parties while the UK was under strict lockdown.
Johnson and his staff reportedly attended swank gatherings with "DJs. Suitcases full of alcohol. Staff playing on a swing erected for the Prime Minister's infant child.” Sure, that all sounds fun, but it was wrong, OK? On Nov. 13, 2020, Johnson reportedly had a bash at his apartment, which is above 11 Downing Street (not 10), that the London newspapers call the “Abba party,” because reportedly people outside could hear the Swedish pop legends' 1980 hit “The Winner Takes It All.” That seems a little on the nose.
Meanwhile, way across the pond, California Governor Gavin Newsom is also accused of flouting coronavirus rules while everyday Americans ... well, do whatever the hell they want. This isn’t the UK. Half the country barely even tries.
Sunday, Newsom posed for photos with celebrities at the NFC Championship game. He wasn’t masked, which we know because Magic Johnson posted some of his own photos on Instagram and Twitter. Brother just can’t keep a secret. Johnson was also photographed with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. No one was masked. This is a problem because California is one of the few remaining US states that haven’t passed “We’re Over COVID” statutes. The existing restrictions are pretty hardcore.
Hanging out at SoFi Stadium today!pic.twitter.com/XfotiRLGz9— Earvin Magic Johnson (@Earvin Magic Johnson) 1643597831
There’s a mask mandate in Los Angeles county for all outdoor “mega events” of more than 5,000 people, regardless of vaccination status. The SoFi stadium adheres to the local health order requiring that masks are worn at all times except when people are eating or drinking, because concessions are a big revenue generator. (I’m sure there’s also a relevant health reason.) No one’s eating or drinking in the photos Magic Johnson took. What kind of asshole eats or drinks in photos?
Personally, I’d hoped that the pandemic would eliminate posed photographs in public, much like handshakes. Alas, both are making a comeback. Newsom doesn’t need this press. He was already caught dining at French Laundry unmasked in December 2020, and he just survived a recall (admittedly in the same way that Trevor Bryan would survive a boxing match with me).
It didn’t take long for Newsom’s foes to seize on this lapse in protocol. They were all greatly offended that he did what they are already doing. The worst comment came from self-proclaimed “TV/media troublemaker” John Cardillo. He tweeted: "HIV positive guy can be around 80,000 people unmasked while hugging @GavinNewsom, but six year olds must be masked in school. Evil tyrants."
HIV and COVID-19 are two different viruses, but that hasn’t stopped conservatives from conflating them to make cheap political points. Cheap politician Marjorie Taylor Greene once compared the unvaccinated Kyrie Irving to Magic Johnson existing with HIV.
But, sure, Magic, who’s 62, should’ve worn a mask, if for no other reason than those were the stadium’s rules. Newsom was pressed on his photographic indiscretions, and his response was like a man digging a large hole while tap-dancing.
"You’re correct,” he said when asked about going maskless. “I was very judicious yesterday. Very judicious. You’ll see the photo that I did take, Magic was kind enough, generous enough, to ask me for a photograph and in my left hand’s the mask and I took the photo. The rest of the time I wore it as we all should, um — not when I had a glass of water — and I encourage everybody else to do so. And, uh, that’s it.”
Asked if he should he have reconsidered taking off his masking, given his history with this issue, the governor responded, “Yes, of course. I was trying to be gracious. I made a mis — I was trying to be gracious. I took the mask off for a brief second but, no, I encourage people to continue to wear them.”
I guess that’s Newsom’s 2022 campaign slogan: “It’s so gracious of me to show you my face.”
Despite his claim of “judicious” mask wearing, footage from the game appears to show Newsom living his best maskless life.
Jessica Alba, Magic Johnson & Leonardo DiCaprio at the game #nfl #LARams #49erspic.twitter.com/3njIHlipjF— Breaking Trends News (@Breaking Trends News) 1643593875
Looks like no one was wearing masks consistently. Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger released a statement in response calling for state and local health officials to "do away with blanket Covid masking policies — they don’t make a difference when they’re not consistently followed or enforced.”
She tweeted Monday: "Not a lot of #COVID19 mask wearing @ yesterday's #NFCChampionshipGame. Vaccines/negative test results were required & strong air circulation was in place. Some fans felt this was enough protection. I believe we need to trust the public to make personal masking decisions.Thoughts?”
The overwhelming response to her impromptu Twitter poll was screw it, let’s do what we want. No surprise, there. This is America.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."