MSNBC, others hit as ‘hypocrites’ for contradictory coverage on Youngkin, Murphy mask mandate orders

Left-leaning news outlets were quick to criticize Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R-Va., in January when he enacted an executive order banning mask mandates in schools during his first week in office, but some of the same media have seemingly changed their tune or remained mum after Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., took a similar action.

Youngkin announced his mask mandate ban in January along with other measures, including one that rescinded the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees. A Virginia judge recently granted a temporary restraining order allowing the mask mandate to resume.


Some media were up in arms over Youngkin’s order, including one liberal pundit who predicted “kids will die” under the new order.

“Republicans love to say Youngkin is the example of a new Republican,” CNN political pundit Joe Lockhart tweeted at the time. “What does he do first. – encourages kids to go to school without a mask. Kids will die. See, same old Republican.”

Raw Story reporter Matthew Chapman called the governor a “clown.”

“Youngkin ran on letting people locally decide how their schools are run, and on week one he’s strongarming a school district to try to kill its mask mandate,” Chapman wrote. “This clown is everything we warned he would be.” 

Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
(Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Pundits from the Washington Post, NBC, and The Daily Beast came to similar conclusions, but in the immediate aftermath of Murphy’s measure, the media appeared to be more muted.

When Youngkin enacted his mask mandate decision, MSNBC tweeted, “In his first 10 days, he’s gone backwards toward Trump’: Experts discuss Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin banning school districts from requiring masks.'” But the outlet struck a different tone this week following Murphy’s announcement, which didn’t ban mask mandates but does lift the order statewide; local school boards can still choose to implement them.

“‘This is the right step’: New Jersey governor lifts mask mandate for schools and day cares starting March 7,” MSNBC’s tweet read Monday.

Conservative commentator Drew Holden posted the two tweets side-by-side on Monday to highlight the dueling narratives.

Steve Guest, special adviser for communications for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the MSNBC authors “hypocrites.”


CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell described Murphy’s move as “the first glimmer of hope in what could be life after the pandemic,” while ABC’s World News Tonight’s aired a clip from Dr. Ashish Jha, who supported Murphy’s decision.

“I thought that was a good decision,” Jha said in a clip highlighted by the Media Research Center. “Basically, because infection numbers are coming down, I think it’s pretty reasonable to pull back on those mandates.”

The trend wasn’t lost on media analysts, who suggested the mainstream media was guilty of a double standard.

“It’s very simple, it was never about masking or COVID-19,” Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor told Fox News Digital. “It’s all about the major media helping Democrats get elected and hurting Republicans at every turn.”

Gov. Phil Murphy casts his vote at the Arts and Cultural Center in Long Branch, N.J. on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (John Jones /NJ Advance Media via AP)

Gov. Phil Murphy casts his vote at the Arts and Cultural Center in Long Branch, N.J. on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (John Jones /NJ Advance Media via AP)
(John Jones /NJ Advance Media via AP)

Gainor argued that the media mishandled the recent fury over Stacey Abrams’s maskless photo in a Georgia classroom, which had critics calling her a hypocrite for not following her own COVID rules. Some outlets, like the Washington Post, pivoted from the controversy itself to using the Republicans “seize” or “pounce” narrative.

“Look at how The Washington Post handled the Stacey Abrams fiasco where she refused to mask but made kindergarten students do so,” he continued. “‘GOP rivals seize on Stacey Abrams’s maskless classroom photo as her campaign calls criticism ‘silly.’ ‘GOP rivals seize?’ It’s never that Democrats do something wrong. It’s always their opponents daring to criticize them. The Post didn’t even run the incriminating photo.”


Stacey Abrams, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate.

Stacey Abrams, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate.
(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

“Just like ‘the science’ is whatever word salad Dr. Fauci puts together that day, the media has decided that ‘truth’ is whatever they say it is,” Fox News contributor Karol Markowicz told Fox News Digital. “But the people know what’s going on. And they know because of people like Joe Rogan, who the media is working very hard to cancel. The liberal media has been a disaster, particularly for the past two years, and now no one believes them and they keep wondering why.”

“So if we’re following along correctly, Youngkin dropping the mask mandate = bad. Murphy follows with the same edict not long after. Will the reaction be different? It’s rhetorical Monday, everybody!” Fox News contributor Joe Concha tweeted.


Asked about Murphy’s order, White House press secretary Jen Psaki maintained that the Biden administration’s position has been to allow school districts to decide their own masking rules. 

“It’s always been up to school districts [on masking], that’s always been our policy,” she said at Tuesday’s press briefing.

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