The Washington Post is giving Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) four “Pinocchios” for comments she made to defend an apparent violation of the city’s new mask mandate.
The Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler noted in an article published on Wednesday that Bowser is receiving criticism after a photo surfaced of her maskless at an indoor wedding reception over the weekend.
On Tuesday, Bowser told reporters, “We all know what the rules says about sitting at a dining table and dining. Don’t be ridiculous. … They took a picture of me where dinner and drinks were served.”
Kessler noted that Tiana Lowe, a commentary writer for The Washington Examiner, received a tip that Bowser would be attending a wedding and “decided to check out how the new mandate would be enforced.”
He wrote, “The wedding was held outside, on the rooftop, while the reception was held on the mezzanine inside the hotel. Lowe arrived during the reception, approximately 9:30 p.m. She told The Fact Checker she stayed for about a half-hour, observing the mayor sitting at one of the dining tables. During that entire period, she said, Bowser never put on her mask even though it appeared the meal was over. She saw servers clearing away plates. She said toasts were being made but Bowser was not drinking.”
Additionally, the fact-checker noted that Lowe said Bowser put her mask on when she left the reception.
He went on to cite a statement from the mayor’s office, which was released after Lowe published a story including the picture of Bowser not wearing a mask, that acknowledged she “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,” the statement added.
However, Kessler said, “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.”
He also pointed out that Lowe shared a 25-second video of Bowser at the reception that showed her sitting “at a table without a mask — even though at least one of the people at her table is wearing a mask.”
“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,” he wrote as said the video appeared to show that “the meal was over.”
Finally, Kessler said, “This is an embarrassing moment for the mayor. 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 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,” he continued.
Kessler concluded, “Instead, she defended herself with partisan-laced spin and innuendo about ‘disinformation,’ making false accusations about the reporter who exposed her actions. She earns Four Pinocchios.
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