After it became public knowledge that former President Barack Obama was hosting a 500-plus-person 60th birthday party at his $12 million Martha's Vineyard mansion this weekend, his office announced that he was scaling back the celebration in an effort to appear less hypocritical while some states are reinstating restrictive measures or officials are calling for mandating vaccine passports.
Reports from attendees and others indicate the party wasn't scaled back, and in leaked photos from the event, guests were neither wearing masks nor social distancing. Many attendees were smoking cigarettes and marijuana, which is legal in Massachusetts, and dancing at a time when a respiratory virus some public health officials say is as contagious as chicken pox, is surging.
Fox News' Sean Hannity said the event won "the hypocritical event of the year award," and Lavern Spicer, Republican House candidate for Florida's 24th Congressional District, said, "Black people are more likely to be infected with Covid from somebody who went to Obama's party than somebody who went to Sturgis. Why doesn't CNN care about that?"
While Stephen Colbert of CBS' "The Late Show" is advocating that Americans be excluded from participating in society without a vaccination card, he has also remained silent about Obama's apparently maskless party.
Colbert "is a total hypocrite," tweeted former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. "And Democrat Party apologist. Did Obama's party have vaccination card requirements for guests, Stephen?"
While some have argued that those in attendance had to confirm they received the COVID-19 shots, political commentator Candice Owens claimed she can confirm at least two attendees who were there who have not received them and that attendees were not required to be vaccinated to attend. Obama's office has not released a statement on the vaccination status of the attendees.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, targeted motorcyclists convening in Sturgis, S.D., without saying a word about Obama's party.
Fauci said he was concerned about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally becoming a "superspreader event" of the so-called Delta variant.
"Well I'm very concerned that we're going to see another surge related to that rally," said Fauci. "I mean, to me it's understandable that people want to do the kinds of things they want to do. They want their freedom to do that, but there comes a time when you're dealing with a public health crisis that could involve you, your family and everyone else, that something supersedes that need to do exactly what you want to do."
The CDC, meanwhile, has not explained its testing methodology, even as critics have pointed out that tests to determine variants are not available on a national scale, making it difficult to determine if someone who tests positive for the coronavirus has a variant or not.
New York Times White House correspondent Annie Karni defended Obama's party. She told CNN the reaction to the party "has really been overblown, they're following all the safety precautions, people are going to sporting events that are bigger than this, this is going to be safe, this is a sophisticated, vaccinated crowd and this is just about optics it's not about safety."
California attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon mocked Karni's remarks, saying, "Of course viruses don't attack sophisticated people."
Another Twitter user, Lain C., remarked: "Oh that explains it. As long as you are rich and sophisticated, you are safe from Covid. All the rest of us lower level citizens must practice social distancing.'"
MSNBC anchor Joy Reid, meanwhile, attributed criticism of the cultural elite's COVID double standard to lumpen envy of their social betters.
"I feel like the people tweeting #ObamaVariant with the most frantic rage are mostly mad that their unvaccinated, spurned by the culture arses would never, ever-ever get invited to a party at that level," Reid tweeted. "Also my guess is they're cool with with the unvaxxed & unmasked at Sturgis and would run to Mar-a-Lago and trip and fall on the way there, get up and keep stumble-running to Palm Beach to be in an unvaxxed, maskless mixer with their Golden Calf, his weird kids and all the COVID droplets available to share. Just some thoughts on this Sunday."
Civil libertarian muckraker Glenn Greenwald wondered, "What happened to all the concerns about vaccinated people passing the Delta to the unvaccinated?
"Left-liberals spent a full year relentlessly COVID-shaming anyone who went outside (unless for liberal protests) or questioning Fauci," Greenwald added. "But now that their icons threw themselves an opulent indoor maskless party, they announce that only pettiness or jealousy would make you notice.
"Can't remember an episode that has revealed quite as vividly how liberal elites really see the world than those having to defend Obama's opulent maskless indoor party as his weekend estate. Someone should put this in a museum to show the rot in the prevailing elite faction."
Graham Allen, who is running for a House seat in South Carolina's 7th Congressional District, said, "Sturgis Rally = COVID Surge! Obama Bash = *media silence* WAKE UP AMERICA!"
Commentator Todd Starnes said of the difference in coverage: "Rules for thee, but not for me. Just remember — when the local health department shuts down your daughter's sweet sixteen party, that they turned a blind eye when the oligarchs feasted on beef and fine wine at Obama's birthday bash."