On May 17 2021 screenshots of a purported tweet from Kaitlin Bennett (@KaitMarieox) circulated, in which she purportedly stated that she might start “wearing a mask again” to avoid the impression she was a “vaccinated Democrat”:
Wearing masks to own the libs pic.twitter.com/egrRPwyCRW
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) May 17, 2021
Dated May 16 2021 and referencing a then-recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance update “lifting” mask mandates for vaccinated people, the tweet read:
Might just start wearing a mask again now that the CDC says you don’t need to if you get the jab. Wouldn’t want to give off the impression that I’m a vaccinated Democrat!
If real and unaltered, the tweet was detrimental to public health, framing both masks and vaccines as partisan practices, while discouraging anyone who did not identify as a “Democrat” from getting vaccinated.
Bennett was a vocal supporter of former United States President Donald Trump, who himself received the vaccine in January 2021, hailed its safety and efficacy, and strongly encouraged his supporters to get vaccinated — making the tweet not only unnecessarily poor advice, but dissonant with the position of Trump himself.
Tweets by Bennett were not uncommonly mistaken for satire and attributed to her as a joke. One such tweet in March 2021 caused confusion over whether it was really her (it was), or if it had been fabricated to mock her views:
r/ToiletPaperUSA’s typically satirical comment occasionally led to a fabricated tweet traveling to other platforms and circulating out of context. But elements such as the timestamp and engagement counters differed from the screenshot seen on Twitter, indicating the Twitter was not sourced from Reddit — and Reddit flair on the post marked it as “*REAL*,” not satirical content created to satirize Bennett.
Might just start wearing a mask again now that the CDC says you don't need to if you get the jab. Wouldn't want to give off the impression that I'm a vaccinated Democrat!
— Kaitlin Bennett (@KaitMarieox) May 16, 2021
Due to its popularity in screenshot form, Kaitlin Bennett (@KaitMarieox)’s “might just start wearing a mask again,” “wouldn’t want to give off the impression I’m a vaccinated Democrat” tweet was mistaken for satire. Unfortunately, the tweet was real, unaltered, and a genuine risk to public health. Bennett bizarrely framed vaccination as a partisan matter — but former United States President Donald Trump, a far-right Republican, both received and strongly endorsed the COVID-19 vaccination.