Caught on video: Washington's mayor flagrantly violating her own mask mandate

The lingering question from last night’s post was whether the image of a maskless Muriel Bowser taken at a wedding reception on Saturday night accurately depicted her behavior or not. Bowser’s new indoor mask mandate, which took effect on Saturday morning, permits removing masks if you’re actively eating or drinking.

Which is stupid. It’s plainly stupid to require masks in indoor spaces only part of the time. But whether Bowser was actively eating or drinking when the photo was taken is germane to settling whether she broke her own rule or not. Following a dumb law you’ve imposed is better than brazenly ignoring it in public.

I guess?

Washington Examiner reporter Tiana Lowe, who took the image of Bowser, came with receipts last night. Skip to 2:45 here and you’ll see the footage showing that Bowser wasn’t mid-gulp when she was caught without a mask. Better yet, watch the first three minutes and you’ll hear Lowe attest that various guests were maskless in full view of the mayor while she was there.

Why didn’t Bowser care that her own rule was being flouted in front of her? Because, while preventing COVID is important, it’s not as important as guests enjoying a soiree to which she’d been invited. Plus, Bowser probably assumed that most people there were vaccinated and therefore at little risk from being maskless. And … she’d be right:

I can’t believe I’m about to write these words, but it’s a pity that Bowser lacks the good sense of [deep breath] Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio has held off on ordering a new mask mandate in New York City, opting to “recommend” masks indoors instead, for the sensible reason that masks won’t do a ton to contain the spread of Delta. Vaccination will. A mask mandate risks discouraging holdouts from getting immunized since it means they’ll be forced to take precautions whether they get their shots or not. A vaccine mandate encourages it by limiting the unvaccinated’s access to public spaces. One punishes socially responsible behavior, the other rewards it.

If population-wide immunity is the only way to beat back COVID durably, and it is, then all policies should be geared towards increasing immunity. De Blasio understands that, Bowser doesn’t. He’s trying to solve a problem whereas she’s just checking the latest box recommended by the CDC. And that attitude shines through in her personal disinterest in following her own rule.

And now, having praised de Blasio, I need a shower.

Back to Bowser’s hypocrisy. Greg Pollowitz makes a good point:

Why is Lowe still out on a limb in accusing Bowser of violating her own mandate when there was another reporter at the wedding (and presumably the reception) who can confirm that she’s right? If Kate Bennett of CNN wants a pass for not breaking the story herself on grounds that she was a guest at the wedding, present in her personal capacity, well, okay. That’s weak, but whatever. But now she’s back on the job and has personal knowledge of whether a serious accusation made against the mayor of Washington is true. Why won’t she speak up to either contradict Lowe or corroborate her? The silence speaks volumes.