'Pulitzer please': California Dem Eric Swalwell slammed for maskless pic in Miami, hits back
Rep snapped without a mask at a restaurant in Miami, leading to widespread criticism over Dems support for mask mandates, but he has the last laugh
Social media went into a meltdown on January 5, 2021, after a photo of Rep. Eric Swalwell without a mask went viral. Snapped at a posh Miami hotel, the California Democrat is seen chatting with a friend, while also caring for his infant son. It led many people online to slam him for going about maskless while pushing for more mask mandates in Congress.
The furor marks the second time a Democrat has been caught maskless in recent weeks. On January 3, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez was snapped maskless at a crowded party with Billy Porter, incidentally also in Miami. Back in August 2021, Rashida Tlaib was caught dancing maskless at a crowded wedding in Michigan. On several occasions, even President Joe Biden has been caught maskless, most recently in November 2021 while shopping on Nantucket island.
Social media was quick to note that many Democrats have fled to Florida for the new year's break, ironic since it is one of the few states without any mask mandates. But, unlike some of his colleagues, it appears Swalwell had a very good reason to go maskless.
Swalwell slams trolls
The photo of a maskless Swalwell was first posted by The Daily Mail, who captured him at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. According to The Mail, the Congressman was even confronted by another person, who left him "speechless" after asking Swalwell where his mask was. His office immediately defended the Congressman, saying he was in the state to "take official meetings and campaign to help Democrats keep the House," adding, "He loves Florida and has dozens of family members there."
The Congressman hit back at The Mail, tweeting, "They got me! Maskless, juggling a baby and a coffee while meeting with a Congolese queen. Pulitzer please!" He followed it up with another tweet saying, "Funny they didn’t use this picture in their headline, taking a cup of coffee to my mouth. And thanks @DailyMail for not blurring out Hank’s face. He’s too damn cute!"
As the Congressman noted, he wasn't just sitting around maskless, but actually drinking a cup of coffee, which is kind of hard to do with a mask. But of course, not many people noticed the cup on the table, nor did The Mail use that photo in their header, so people assumed he was maskless because he didn't have to wear one in Miami.
'This isn't a flex Eric'
"Elites are special. They deserve special privileges the rest of you don’t. What’s not to understand?" one user mocked. Another said, "They don’t care about COVID nor are the afraid of it. All they care about is using it as political weapon." DeSantis' press secretary said, "If Swalwell truly believed his own rhetoric about COVID, Florida, and mandates, he would not take his maskless unvaccinated baby to Loews Hotel South Beach during the Omicron case surge in Miami. It’s not hypocrisy. It’s hierarchy."
Elites are special. They deserve special privileges the rest of you don’t. What’s not to understand? https://t.co/N404qiw89Q— Jesse Mallory (@jessemallory) January 6, 2022
They don’t care about COVID nor are the afraid of it. All they care about is using it as political weapon. https://t.co/QNmx77hiVF— The Ghost of Steve McQueen (@swordofthelord2) January 6, 2022
If Swalwell truly believed his own rhetoric about COVID, Florida, and mandates, he would not take his maskless unvaccinated baby to Loews Hotel South Beach during the Omicron case surge in Miami.— Christina Pushaw 🐊 (@ChristinaPushaw) January 6, 2022
It’s not hypocrisy. It’s hierarchy. pic.twitter.com/sSHNpHG8Dd
The criticism didn't abate even after Swalwell hit back at The Mail. "Many of us haven't been anywhere indoors and maskless for 2 years, especially with a baby, especially during a new variant that is way more contagious, so this isn't a flex, Eric. I like you, but this was not a good move," one user replied. Another trolled, "I did not know a baby, a coffee, and a Congolese queen were factors for immunity."
Many of us haven't been anywhere indoors and maskless for 2 years, especially with a baby, especially during a new variant that is way more contagious, so this isn't a flex, Eric. I like you, but this was not a good move.— Please get the vaxx (っ◕‿◕)っ (@TheyCallMeTarz) January 5, 2022
I did not know a baby, a coffee, and a Congolese queen were factors for immunity— Kevin Dalton (@NextLAMayor) January 5, 2022
Plenty of other users rushed to Swalwell's defense, noting that he was triple vaxxed, and was drinking coffee. Others decided to take a dig at Steve Cortes, who not only slammed AOC for going about maskless in Florida but also her boyfriend for wearing flip-flops. Needless to say, both sides of the aisle had plenty of ammunition over this series of photographs.