NYT reporter slammed for calling Obama’s 60th birthday party low-risk due to ‘sophisticated, vaccinated crowd’

A member of the media is facing backlash for her comments on Obama's guests and their risk for COVID

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A New York Times reporter is being slammed by critics after opining that former President Barack Obama’s birthday party was a low COVID-19 risk due to the “sophisticated, vaccinated” guest list.

This weekend a clip of Annie Karni, a White House correspondent for the Times speaking on CNN went viral on social media because some believe she was making excuses to justify Obama throwing a party amidst concerns about the delta variant.

Barack Obama Campaigns With Joe Biden In Michigan 3 Days Ahead Of Election
Former President Barack Obama speaks on Oct. 31, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

During a segment discussing the controversy surrounding Obama’s much-criticized Martha’s Vineyard celebration, Karni insisted that although the former POTUS was spotted not wearing a mask the guests overall were “following all the safety precautions.”

She then explained that residents on the island of Martha’s Vineyard where the party was being held had confirmed that there were various factors at play that made COVID concerns very low at the star-studded gathering.

‘”This 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,” Karni stated in the clip.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald was amongst those who wondered out loud why Karni and people like her weren’t more concerned about Obama’s bash.

“A NYT reporter on CNN justifying Obama’s huge maskless birthday bash because he only invited ‘a sophisticated, vaccinated crowd’ is about as emblematic of liberal discourse as it gets,” Greenwald tweeted. “What happened to all the concerns about vaccinated people passing delta to the unvaccinated?”

“Yes, it’s a pandemic and a crisis, but let the sophisticated people have their fun!” he added.  

Following the chorus of naysayers, Karni attempted to clarify her statements by noting that the word “sophisticated” was actually a direct quote from one of the locals she spoke to and that she was only conveying the beliefs and feelings of the people on the island.

“Watch the full clip,” Karni tweeted in direct response to Greenwald’s original critique. “The Q was, what do people on the island think of the party? The A was me summarizing views of ppl I spoke with: some are upset, + others think the concerns about it are overblown. ‘Sophisticated crowd’ was from a quote in the story.”

As for Obama’s take on the message his birthday party sent, he previously said the gathering which was initially going to entertain over 500 people, was ultimately “scaled back” to a much more intimate guest list due to the spread of the delta variant.

Despite this assurance, he was still was widely questioned by the public as images from the gathering started popping up on social media that showed a massive tent of maskless attendees. The staff working the event did abide by mask protocols though and appeared to keep them on for the entire evening.

Attendees reportedly included Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend, recording artist H.E.R., Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

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