A New York Times reporter sparked a firestorm of backlash over the weekend after relaying sentiment that justified former President Barack Obama's grandiose 60th birthday party.
The star-studded crowd — which included famous actors, musicians, media personalities, and politicians from all across the country — were seen partying around Obama's Martha's Vineyard estate without wearing face masks. Obama himself was pictured without wearing a face covering.
What did the reporter say?
While Democrats advocate for mask and vaccine mandates, New York Times White House correspondent Annie Karni seemingly justified the mass gathering of Obama's birthday party by relaying the sentiment of some Martha's Vineyard residents.
"They're following all the safety precautions. People are going to sporting events that are bigger than this," Karni said, repeating some island residents. "This is a sophisticated, vaccinated crowd."
Speaking about criticism of the party, Karni added, "This is just about optics. It's not about safety."
Earlier in the interview, Karni explained the COVID-related precautions that Obama's staff took — and requiring guests to be vaccinated was not one of them.
"Well, first of all, to be clear, this party is outdoors. All the guests had to submit negative COVID tests to a COVID coordinator and were encouraged to be vaccinated," Karni said.
"They were not required to be vaccinated, but most of this crowd is assumed to be vaccinate," she added. "So they are following all CDC precautions."
What was the reaction?
The sentiment that Karni relayed was quickly called out for its elitist stench that suggests "sophisticated" people can live by different rules than non-sophisticated people.
- "It's important to note that the latest research in virology proves that sophisticated progressive people are protected against COVID via a BS-13 enzyme. Not to be confused with Noble members of MS-13," reporter Gad Saad mocked.
- "Oh that explains it. As long as you are rich and sophisticated, you are safe from Covid. All the rest of us lower level citizens must practice social distancing," one person reacted.
- "A NYT reporter on CNN justifying Obama's huge maskless birthday bash because he only invited 'a sophisticated, vaccinated crowd' is about as emblematic of liberal discourse as it gets. What happened to all the concerns about vaccinated people passing Delta to the unvaccinated?" Glenn Greenwald said. "Yes, it's a pandemic and a crisis, but let the sophisticated people have their fun!"
- "A case study in media elitism, in one telling segment, with the very worst of journalism in the 'objective' Jim Acosta running the performance art," media reporter Joe Concha reacted.
- "With distinct notes of vanilla, elderberry, and aged hickory," Washington Examiner editor Seth Mandel mocked.
- "Everyone knows COVID doesn't affect people who sip wine with their pinkies out," another person mocked.
- "Notice how she pivoted to 'they're following the rules' to 'there are people doing much worse at sports events anyway'. So which is it? Are they all rule breakers, or none are?" one person pointed out.
- "That's it right there, the quiet part out loud: 'We are better than some other people, we are sophisticated, we are educated, we can break the rules,'" another person said.
Martha's Vineyard has been designated as an area with "high" transmission of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which theoretically means residents should wear face masks indoors and avoid large gatherings.