Katharine McPhee has criticised Stacey Abrams after the politician was photographed sitting among a group of children who were wearing masks without a mask of her own.
Over the weekend, Abrams, who is running for governor in Georgia, visited Glennwood Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, where she was photographed sitting on the floor and smiling with the school children.
The photo was later shared on Twitter by the school’s principal, Holly Brookins, according to CNN, who captioned the since-deleted picture: “Extraordinary way to kick off the third Annual African-American Read-In at Glennwood and Black History Month. Thrilled to host @staceyabrams author of Stacey’s Extraordinary Words!”
In another tweet, Abrams responded to the principal’s tweet and thanked the school for hosting her, according to the outlet.
However, the since-deleted photos have sparked backlash on social media, where people have criticised both mask mandates in the state and Abrams for not abiding by the policy.
On Sunday, McPhee, 37, who recently welcomed her first child with husband David Foster, 71, took to Instagram to call Abrams out over the photo, which the singer described as evidence of political “hypocrisy”.
“What the actual hell… politicians at their finest,” McPhee wrote on her Instagram Stories alongside the photo. “Mask up the children and you yourself sit without a mask. The hypocrisy continues.”
On the post, McPhee then suggested that Abrams would defend the photo by claiming that she had her mask in her hand.
“I’m sure she will say: ‘But I had my mask in my hand!’” McPhee added.
Abrams’ campaign defended the Georgia Democrat from the backlash in a statement on Sunday, in which it said that it was “shameful” for the politician’s opponents to use “a Black History Month reading event for Georgia children as the impetus for a false political attack”.
“It is shameful that our opponents are using a Black History Month reading event for Georgia children as the impetus for a false political attack, and it is pitiful and predictable that our opponents continue to look for opportunities to distract from their failed records when it comes to protecting public health during the pandemic,” the campaign’s statement said.
Abrams’ campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, also defended the Georgia governor hopeful’s lack of mask on Twitter, according to CNN, where she said that “Stacey trusts science and supports masking in schools as it’s the current CDC recommendation,” before noting that the Democrat wore a mask to the event but “removed it at the podium so she could be heard by students watching remotely and for photos, but only with folks who were masked”.
The city of Decatur extended its indoor masking requirement on 18 January through 22 February, according to CNN. While the city notes that exceptions to the policy include children under the age of 10, the Decatur City Schools stated that masks would be mandated for staff, students and visitors on 24 January, with the mandate expected to remain in place until 8 February.
Following McPhee’s decision to wade into the discussion, many criticised the singer for her comments.
“Who cares what Katherine McPhee, or any actor, thinks?” one person tweeted, while another said: “Yikes at Katharine McPhee.”
Someone else claimed that McPhee has been “problematic” before, writing: “Ugh she’s been problematic before. I think it was revealed that she donates to Republicans despite trying to cater to the LGBTQ community.”
In September 2020, it was reported by that the former American Idol star had allegedly donated to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which describes itself as the “only national organisation solely devoted to taking back the Republican Senate Majority”.
The Independent has contacted Abrams’ campaign and a spokesperson for McPhee for comment.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies