By Becket Adams, Senior Commentary Writer
Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s campaign launched just last December, yet she is already in full-blown panic mode.
Newly surfaced photos show the extent to which Abrams went unmasked at a campaign event last Friday at an elementary school in Decatur, Georgia.
The images, which were reported first by Outkick, show an unmasked Abrams speaking at a lectern, an unmasked Abrams posing with school staff, and an unmasked Abrams posing with schoolchildren. The photos also show every single person at the school event, including adults and children, wearing face coverings, except for Abrams.
It wasn’t exactly hidden. The Democratic candidate’s team last week shared images from the event on social media. One such photo featured an unmasked Abrams surrounded by masked schoolchildren. Abrams, who called Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp “immoral” for supporting a ban on mask mandates, was soon met with fierce criticism.
The Abrams campaign deleted the social media posts, and then Abrams released a statement calling her critics racists for sharing the photos. Her campaign then listed a job posting for a new social “platforms director,” as if it had been the fault of someone other than the candidate.
For good measure, Abrams’s campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, claimed her boss “wore a mask to the event” and removed it only for a few specific moments.
“Stacey trusts science and supports masking in schools as it’s the current CDC recommendation,” said Groh-Wargo. “She wore a mask to the event, and removed it at the podium so she could be heard by students watching remotely and for photos, but only with folks who were masked.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported (emphasis added), “Her campaign said she wore a mask to the event and only removed it so she could be heard by students watching remotely and for a handful of photos on the condition that everyone around her was wearing face-coverings.” Remember, the campaign’s statement to the Georgia newspaper is supposed to help Abrams, not make her look worse.
But the photos released this week show the extent to which Abrams flouted the masking rules she has so zealously endorsed, raising questions regarding her campaign’s version of events.
Abrams’s masking hypocrisy aside, the real question now is: Why are we seeing these new photos in Outkick and not, say, the New York Times?
This isn’t a knock against Outkick. Rather, the point is this: Outkick is young as far as news sites go, dating back to only 2011. It’s not even a political news site. Outkick’s bread and butter is sports news. Yet, for some reason, a 10-year-old sporting news website got its hands on the Abrams photos before the corporate press.
Outkick deserves kudos for getting the scoop. However, in terms of the broader press, this story is larger than Outkick merely doing a good job. It’s about Outkick’s much larger, older, and wealthier competition completely dropping the ball, or worse, protecting Abrams’s campaign from the embarrassment.
Newsrooms such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN have the cash, institutional expertise, and infrastructure to run down these photos, but they didn’t. Outkick did. Perhaps the Washington Post was too busy writing a “GOP rivals seize” defense of Abrams’s school debacle (this isn’t a joke; the Washington Post has already published a “Republicans seize” story in response to the incident). Perhaps CNN staffers are still too busy mourning former network President Jeff Zucker’s abrupt firing.
Or perhaps it’s simpler and more serious than all of this. Perhaps it’s as simple as Outkick’s sources didn’t feel comfortable talking to corporate media. Perhaps the sources felt more comfortable handing the photos to what they consider a more reliable and honest broker.