Thursday, November 18, 2021

LA Magazine describes how antivaxxers misrepresented one of its magazine covers to spread a rumor about Gavin Newsom

Those rumors a few weeks ago that Governor Gavin Newsom had gone into hiding after suffering a traumatic vaccine booster side effect were at least in part fueled by Los Angeles’ March story on the California gubernatorial recall election, which used a Newsom lookalike for the cover image. Seizing on LA Mag’s six-month-old casting call for a Newsom doppelganger, anti-vaxxers and other tin-foil-hat types started spreading the rumor that the Governor had hired a body double to cover up for his illness. They pointed to Newsom cancelling a long-planned trip to Scotland in late October


Here at Los Angeles, we first learned of our own role in the conspiracy on Nov. 8, when [the] photographer [], who shot the March Los Angeles cover, received an email from [the] founder of ... a website that publicizes anti-vax rhetoric, seeking answers about our old casting call: “There’s a rapidly growing conspiracy theory,” the email read, “that you’re involved in covering up the disappearance of Newsom and will roll out a crisis actor to prove he’s still alive and not vax damaged.”

[The photographer] attempted to explain what really happened — that [an] actor-comedian ... had been hired to impersonate Newsom blowing a big pink bubble-gum bubble for our cover — but that didn’t do much to kill the rumor. A few days later, a TikTok user posted a video montage of various photos of Newsom placed side-by-side with a screen shot of Los Angeles mag’s casting call, adding the Fleetwood Mac tune “Little Lies” as an ominous soundtrack.