"Strange saga": Newsom pulls children from French Laundry Camp, or something

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

“Strange saga” might be a fair assessment of this faceplant from Gavin Newsom, but only if the SF Gate has amnesia. Not for the first time, Newsom stands accused of hypocrisy over his own pandemic-related emergency orders. Last year, Newsom defied his mask mandate and social-distancing orders to have a big, unmasked birthday bash at The French Laundry. Now he’s been caught sending his kids to a camp that refuses to force children to wear masks:

Two of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s children briefly attended a summer camp that was in defiance of the state’s COVID-19 guidance that summer camps require children ages 2-11 to wear masks at all times.

The strange saga started Monday when an anti-Newsom school reopening group called attention to photos on social media that showed one of Newsom’s sons maskless at a basketball camp with other maskless campers. The state’s mask rules for children have been controversial.

“The real problem is Newsom’s own family having mask choice, while he forces a different policy on every other kid in California,” the account wrote in a Twitter thread that was widely shared.

After Fox News braced Newsom on the hypocrisy, the embattled California governor claimed ignorance of the camp’s policies. There’s a big problem with that explanation, though. It turns out that the camp sent Newsom and all the other parents an e-mail explicitly warning them that they would not impose mask mandates:

The story did not end there. A copy of the camp’s mask policy that was emailed to parents began to circulate on social media, and clearly stated that, “Masks will not be enforced. Please know that your child is more than welcome to wear a mask during camp.”

The Associated Press then went back to Newsom’s office, where the story changed yet again:

“The Newsoms were concerned to see unvaccinated children unmasked indoors at a camp their children began attending yesterday and after seeing this, removed the kids from the camp,” Erin Mellon said in an email. “The family reviewed communication from the camp and realized that an email was missed saying the camp would not enforce masking guidance. Their kids will no longer be attending this camp.”

So Newsom’s defense against hypocrisy is … incompetence? Given his performance in office, that’s not much of a reach. However, it’s tough to buy that neither parent bothered to carefully read a message from their children’s summer camp about health issues in the middle of the pandemic, especially at the precise moment when Newsom claimed it required renewed emergency measures.

The recall effort caught fire in California after the French Laundry incident, but that wasn’t Newsom’s only hypocrisy. Newsom has long had one standard for his own children while imposing a different one on everyone else’s:

Signatures in support of the recall spiked last November after he was caught dining maskless at the expensive French Laundry restaurant while telling Californians to avoid gatherings of more than three households. He also took heat from critics for sending his children to private school that adopted a hybrid learning schedule as most public school students remained in distance learning.

One would think that even a politician as incompetent as Newsom would have learned a lesson from that the first time around. It might be left to California voters to teach him that lesson in a way that it will stick.