WashPost fact-checker hits DC Mayor Bowser for ‘poor spin’ after violating own mask order

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A fact-check at the Washington Post shot down a defense from Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) that suggested she did not violate the public health order she put in place over the weekend. 

“We all know what the rules say about sitting at a dining table and dining. Don’t be ridiculous. … They took a picture of me where dinner and drinks were served,” Bowser told reporters this week in reference to photos published by a journalist at the Washington Examiner showing her without a mask while at an indoor wedding reception on Saturday.

The mayor’s office issued an executive order earlier in the week that mandates all people in the district wear a mask while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, but makes an exemption for individuals who are “actively eating or drinking.”

After the Examiner journalist published photos of Bowser without a mask at the reception, the mayor’s office issued a statement saying Bowser “officiated an outdoor, rooftop wedding ceremony, followed by an indoor dinner. The Mayor wore a mask indoors in compliance with the mandate, and the organizers and venue staff worked to create a safe environment for the staff and guests.”

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler labeled that statement and Bowser’s remarks to reporters “poor spin.” 

“The statement makes no effort to explain why Bowser was seen without a mask but simply asserts she wore one indoors in compliance with the mandate. The suggestion is that the photo only caught her during a moment when she was eating,” Kessler wrote on Wednesday. “In other words, Bowser is not ‘actively eating or drinking,’ as the mandate requires. So, defending herself before the media, on Tuesday, Bowser subtly rewrote her own rules, suggesting that as long as you are at a dining table, being maskless is okay: ‘We all know what the rules say about sitting at a dining table and dining.'”

Bowser, the Post noted, dismissed the journalist who took the photo, Tiana Lowe, as one of the “right-wing nuts” who opposed vaccination, an assertion the Post fact-check found to be false, citing Lowe’s previous writings in support of vaccinations. 

“This is an embarrassing moment for the mayor,” Kessler concluded, awarding Bowser four “Pinocchios,” the most possible, for the attempted spin. “The video clearly shows she is seated at a table, when the meal is over, in violation of her own mask mandate that says masks are not required indoors in these circumstances only when ‘actively eating or drinking.’ But she could have used this as an object lesson — that she got caught up in the celebratory mood and failed to put her mask back on. After all, everyone makes mistakes from time to time. But it’s important for political leaders to set an example — even when making an error.”

Tags COVID-19 D.C. Fact-checking Glenn Kessler mask mandates Muriel Bowser Muriel Bowser Washington

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