LAST MONTH, California Gov. Gavin Newsom was caught violating his own warnings against multiple households dining together indoors. The Democratic governor was spotted at the French Laundry, an exclusive restaurant north of San Francisco, where he was celebrating the birthday of longtime friend Jason Kinney.
The dinner controversy was more than just an opulent display of political double standards — it also highlighted the backroom efforts to maintain special treatment during the pandemic. Kinney, a veteran political operative, is a lobbyist for a number of interests seeking to shape the rules governing life under the pandemic, including what kind of economic activities are deemed essential in order to stay in business.
The inside track may have paid off. One of Kinney’s clients, Netflix, has been allowed to continue to operate during the latest round of forced closures that began last week as intensive care hospital capacity has dwindled across the state.
The entertainment industry has been given extensive leeway to operate during the pandemic, even as California now faces a stay-at-home order. The state has deemed the television and movie production industry as “critical infrastructure” and has allowed Hollywood studios to continue filming projects, including in Los Angeles, which is facing the most strict lockdown order.