Opinion: Readers respond to Gov. Kemp’s critique

07/23/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - A member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. holds a sign during a solidarity protest to show support for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms outside of the Georgia State Capitol Building, Thursday, July 23, 2020. Gov. Brian Kemp issued a lawsuit against the Atlanta mayor due to her push to move her city back to phase 1 of reopening. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)



Editor’s note: The guest column by Gov. Brian Kemp in Aug. 23′s AJC resulted in a number of replies from readers. Responses were received that both supported and rebuked Kemp’s criticism of the AJC’s reporting and opinion commentary around the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, we present a page of those commentaries from our readers.

More-proactive states have fared far better than Ga.

Contrary to Gov. Kemp’s opinion column of Sunday, Aug. 23, the AJC has been a very important part of the solution by keeping Atlanta updated on COVID-19. One week of slightly improved numbers is helpful, but Gov. Kemp, we are still on fire, and you were late to the fire. Other states were early to mandate masks. Other states were early to restrict places where people are crowded together. Gov. Kemp, you played fast and loose, so in Georgia we have had 5,000 deaths. Other states have had better results. As governor, you can mandate masks. Please do. Urging Georgians to wear a mask is not working.


Gov.’s right to point out AJC’s decidedly liberal emphasis

Gov. Kemp was spot-on in his opinion of the AJC being part of the problem. Your newspaper professes to be balanced in its presentation of news. Hardly. It is decidedly liberal in its reporting and story placement, with its positive emphasis of all things Left. The AJC is quick to heap praise upon itself throughout its printed pages – “Credible. Compelling. Complete.” The AJC earns an “F” in those three Cs.


Lack of meaningful state data on COVID-19′s been frustrating

Thank you, AJC, for robust coverage of COVID-19 in Georgia. Every part of our family’s life is impacted by COVID, from significant family events and holiday celebrations, to work and school.

The absence of meaningful data from the state to guide my family’s safety has been frustrating. We learn only of infections and death rates by county, but this vague data does not tell us about the safety of local businesses and community events. We know very little about the infection burden in our local hospitals, school systems and businesses.

Testing access is variable at best, with lengthy lines at Department of Public Health sites and hefty waits of four to seven days for results.

I am grateful the AJC presents data unified with DPH summary data and local stories about outbreaks resulting in prolonged hospitalizations and lives lost, and that the AJC keeps the community abreast of testing facilities and operations.

The governor’s critique of the AJC is woefully misplaced. He failed to address the glaring state shortcomings identified by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, instead touting state numbers. The state’s daily positivity rate of 2,000-plus daily cases, and total deaths exceeding 5,000, is an absurd success story and hardly the groundwork for returning to normalcy.

The mixed and misdirected messaging out of the state capital is not moving Georgia forward.

Jumping on the media for reporting Georgia’s data won’t make COVID-19 magically disappear. A public health crisis demands both humility and deliberate action. The governor’s citizens would welcome that guest column.


Kemp rightly calls out AJC’s cherry-picked, biased reports

Boy, did Gov. Kemp nail it! The AJC has become unreadable with day after day of cherry-picked COVID-19 reporting designed to drive fear and despair. We know you hate President Trump and are an active part of the cabal to blame him for everything. Credible and compelling – not! – GENE HENRY

08/10/2020 - College Park, Georgia - Gov. Brian Kemp listens as U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams speaks during a press conference at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic located in a Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport paid parking facility in College Park, Monday, August 10, 2020. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)



Gov. Kemp’s petulant anger at the AJC is misplaced

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the GOP doesn’t see the connection between mask mandates and helping businesses, schools, football and all the other things they cherish.

Masks would have kept our infection rates low and allowed our state to keep humming along.

Instead, we get five months of petulance as best exemplified by our governor in his Sunday, Aug. 23, temper tantrum. If we had simply required masks beginning in April, we could be returning to “normal.”

Yet Gov. Kemp’s only answer after all this time is to yell at the AJC for keeping us informed. Sad.


Kemp’s right that AJC’s COVID reporting is greatly flawed

I am no big fan of Gov. Kemp, but he said exactly what I have been trying to say in response to the many daily articles about COVID-19. As Gov. Kemp says, so many of the numbers have no real context, meaning or relevancy. Please train your young journalists to put together meaningful information that is relevant and not just splash a headline out there. The bottom line is, Gov. Kemp is exactly right. The AJC needs to be a part of the solution, but somehow, given its past history, I don’t think that will happen. – TERRY DAVIDSON

Gov’t. can support people in making better personal decisions

Gov. Kemp seems to have forgotten his opposition to measures such as wearing masks,

the most effective defense we have against COVID-19. In fact, he sued Atlanta for its efforts to protect its own citizenry from this devastating disease.

I support the rights of the individual, but also those of the community to be safe. We all need “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We all should be more committed to the health and well-being of our friends, families and neighbors.

I find masks uncomfortable, too, but wearing one is a small price to pay for my own protection and the protection of others. We are in need of a greater sense of community, of caring for people, even those we do not know.

Yes, people can decide for themselves, but we might all make better decisions with the support of our government.


Medically fragile, elderly paying price for Kemp’s inaction

Gov. Kemp is disingenuous in his opinion piece in the Sunday, Aug. 23, AJC. He says statistics showing a small drop in COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and infection rates for one week prove Georgia is gaining control of the spread of the virus. Thus, he says, it is unnecessary for him to implement any of the recommendations of hundreds of public health experts.

What he doesn’t say is that even if these rates were to drastically increase next week or any other time in the future, he still would not consider adopting any further recommendations. The Georgia economy is his first and only priority. Period.

I find insulting his reminder that individual rights do not go away in a pandemic. Whose individual rights are we talking about? Certainly not the rights of the elderly, minorities and medically fragile individuals like me who are bearing the brunt of this pandemic. We are sheltering in place for our sixth month while we watch many other “good people of Georgia” going about their business without masks, in large groups, and with total disregard of distancing guidelines.

Gov. Kemp, just be honest! Tell us that citizens like me, who are asking you to be flexible and to modify your position to help end this pandemic sooner, are wasting our time. You act as though you are completely right, and anyone who dares asks you to reconsider your policies is completely wrong. “It is what (you say) it is.” Period.

This is not good leadership.


Gov.’s sensationalism charges ring hollow, given Ga.’s missteps

Gov. Kemp’s attempt to criticize the AJC for sensationalizing news about Georgia’s failures in mitigating the coronavirus rings hollow, coming from a governor who was slow in taking action, and premature in easing restrictions while the virus remained rampant, causing the untimely deaths of many of our citizens.

Gov. Kemp, are we to understand the AJC should be giving you more praise while Georgia remains in the top tier of infection rates in the nation and deaths have climbed to over 5,000?

Sir, your criticism would have more credibility if you could muster the type of leadership present in multiple other states that have flattened the curve of infection rates. You and your administration recently received correspondence from the White House Coronavirus Task Force stating, “There is no significant improvement in the Atlanta metro area, with continued high levels of new cases at a plateau. Mitigation efforts must increase.” Just over a week ago, Johns Hopkins University reported Georgia had the highest seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people.

Rather than whine about news coverage, as our president likes to do, exercise the type of leadership that takes our citizens out of the red zone, and credit will follow.


The AJC doesn’t make the news, Gov., you do

Put down the shotgun, governor; your aim is terrible. Your outrage against the designation of Georgia as a red-zone COVID-19 state, and all the data supporting that designation, should target the White House that created and issued the report, not the AJC.

You do not deny that the “data” released to the paper by your agencies were redacted to the point of obliteration, nor did you promise to change that fact going forward. It’s unseemly to cry “foul” and shoot the messenger for reporting the only information it could obtain, especially in light of the prominent coverage the AJC gave to your “wear a mask” tour, and the lawsuit you filed and then dismissed against the city and mayor of Atlanta.

The AJC doesn’t make the news; you do.


Well-said, Gov. Kemp: AJC reporting lacking in credibility

Well said, Gov. Kemp! The AJC is no longer a credible source of information. It no longer even pretends to be balanced. The truth is good, but the whole truth is better. I have been an AJC subscriber for decades. I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that the AJC is no longer worthwhile for me to open up. – RUTH CLIFTON

Kemp perhaps has a point, but AJC needn’t be his cheerleader

We can appreciate some things about the governor’s letter on handling the virus. He is probably correct in saying no matter what policy is put in place, there will be those who won’t do such a simple thing as wear a mask to reduce the spread of the virus. And he himself does wear a mask, regularly. It’s good to see some of the numbers are down. Still, is it the job of a newspaper to be a cheerleader for the governor? Or should a newspaper urge everyone to do even better and build some momentum against this monstrous intruder among us?


Numbers show Ga.’s relaxed COVID fight’s nothing to brag on

I am not sure what planet Gov. Brian Kemp is living on, but it is not earth. His opinion column in the Sunday, Aug. 23, AJC suggests Georgia’s relaxed approach has done a very credible job in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia recently had the highest per-capita coronavirus incidence in the country. Its 10.6 million citizens represent 3.2% of the U.S. population but have 4.5% of U.S. cases, 41% higher, not something to brag about.

The best way to open the economy is through prevention, including the temporary closing of certain establishments, with eventual normalization except for wearing masks.

Also, in the U.S. there are “infringements” on personal liberties. One cannot drive without a license, nor smoke in restaurants and bars.

Wherever Kemp is, he’s not alone: the U.S. represents 4.3% of the world’s population and has 24% of its coronavirus cases and 22% of its deaths. Abysmal. President Donald Trump and now Kemp have contributed to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.


Gov.’s right that fanning negativity makes things worse

Bravo, Gov. Kemp! It needed to be said, and you did a fine job. I’m thinking the governor has been reading my mail to the AJC. Anybody with any sense at all knows fanning a flame will make it worse. Everybody who’s not hiding in a cave is familiar with the stats, but having them stuffed down our throats every day, every hour, is absolutely unnecessary. Businesses need encouragement, a reason to be open, not a funeral dirge.