Democrats and members of the mainstream media spent much of the week unloading on Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) after he announced that certain businesses in Georgia would be allowed to resume operations starting on Friday.
Most businesses remained open with restrictions to ensure community health and well-being. We were successful in our efforts to protect Georgians and our state's healthcare infrastructure. (3/5) #gapol— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) April 24, 2020
Gov. Kemp’s decision triggered a wave of backlash as many claimed that his decision was irresponsible. Media outlets also took advantage of President Trump’s amicable disagreement with Gov. Kemp’s move, in an attempt to undermine Kemp’s jurisdiction to reopen his state under the 10th amendment. Though the president publicly expressed his disagreement with Gov. Kemp’s decision to reopen parts of his state, the president has remained nuanced and respectful of governors doing the jobs to which they were elected throughout this crisis. President Trump and Gov. Kemp made it clear that they talked at length about Kemp's decision, and the president repeatedly said that he respected Kemp's choice despite disagreement.
President Trump today said he informed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that he “strongly” disagreed with his decision to begin reopening parts of the state as soon as Friday.— POLITICO (@politico) April 22, 2020
"But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right" Trump added https://t.co/JqPaavlfhR pic.twitter.com/tz9WilCdti
Earlier today, I discussed Georgia's plan to reopen shuttered businesses for limited operations with @POTUS. I appreciate his bold leadership and insight during these difficult times and the framework provided by the White House to safely move states forward. (1/3) #gapol— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) April 22, 2020
The president reaffirmed this morning that he did not endorse Gov. Kemp's eventual decision, but that it is the Georgia Republican's job to govern as he sees fit:
I (or @VP) never gave Governor Brian Kemp an OK on those few businesses outside of the Guidelines. FAKE NEWS! Spas, beauty salons, tattoo parlors, & barber shops should take a little slower path, but I told the Governor to do what is right for the great people of Georgia (& USA)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2020
Gov. Kemp vehemently defended his decision, but was spared no criticism from mainstream media outlets:
“Public health experts have expressed concern with Kemp’s plan and warned that moving too quickly could fuel a resurgence in infections. The conflicting messages from state and federal officials have left many business owners in Georgia confused. Some are embracing the governors’ order and making plans to reopen, while others say it’s not worth the potential risk to employees and customers,” the Associated Press wrote of Gov. Kemp’s decision.
A source close to the coronavirus task force warns that announcements like the one made by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp about reopening some businesses this week could backfire and could lead to more deaths than estimated, CNN's Jim Acosta reports. https://t.co/rFN1Llq5QT pic.twitter.com/M80rROb8Qt— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) April 21, 2020
While Kemp bore the brunt of the media’s backlash, his Democratic colleague, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), received no criticism on a mirror-image decision to reopen parts of Colorado’s economy.
Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced that he would not extend Colorado's stay-at-home order, which is set to expire on Sunday. He said he still encouraged all residents to practice social distancing. https://t.co/TkzM0Hzxop— Ballotpedia (@ballotpedia) April 23, 2020
Gov. Polis announced reopening plans with a similar timeline to that of Gov. Kemp’s plan, but was not vilified by the media, presumably due to his party identification:
“Gov. Jared Polis outlined a plan to ease statewide stay-at-home and nonessential business closures Monday. All nonessential retailers may soon offer curbside delivery and can fully reopen, at half-staff capacity and with protective measures. Offices and personal services can do the same in May. Schools, universities, gyms remain closed, along with indoor restaurant and bar service,” the AP wrote of Gov. Polis’s similar decision.
Btw: missed this yesterday, but @GovofCO is ending the Colorado lockdown on May 1 - retail, offices, then bars and restaurants by mid-May. Believe he is the first Democratic governor to take this step. Wonder why no one is screaming about the imminent Rocky Mountain apocalypse. pic.twitter.com/eeqP5w0yCy— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) April 21, 2020
While the media crucified Gov. Kemp’s governance, his state’s statistics surrounding COVID-19 are much more favorable than that of Colorado. Per RealClearPolitics, Georgia’s death-per-million rate is 83, while Colorado’s is 95; Georgia has given 101,062 COVID-19 tests, while Colorado has given 52,324.
As President Trump makes clear, there is plenty of room for disagreement with the decisions of individual governors, whether Republican or Democrat. Ideology should not be the litmus test for the media to fairly represent the decisions of governors, and the double standard here is alarming; while headlines call Gov. Kemp “irresponsible,” and gives the majority of attention to Democrats’ criticism of his decision, a Democratic governor who issued a similar decision is exempt from disapproval.
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