SF’s low-turnout, off-year local school board race is still generating national coverage as a revolt against the “woke left,” and Mayor London Breed hit Meet the Press on Sunday to ride that narrative.
I don’t watch a ton of Meet the Press these days. But I’ve watched that Sunday morning political chat program many times over the decades, and I don’t once recall seeing any coverage of a local school board race.
Yet in the wake of Tuesday’s recall of three school board members, in which a dismal 36% turnout in an off-year, mid-February special election is being hailed by Mike Pence and the right-wing media apparatus as sending giant “shockwaves across the country” as a revolt against the “woke left,” the school board recall effort with a 23-1 financial advantage was considered worthy of an 11-minute Meet the Press segment with Mayor London Breed.
While there is no shortage of post-recall armchair punditry about ‘what it all means,’ Breed at least has the credibility of being the mayor of the town in question, and she does not shy from media appearances.
“It was really about the frustration of the Board of Education doing their fundamental job, which is to make sure that our children are getting educated, that they get back into the classroom,” Breed said on Meet the Press. “And this did not occur. They [the school board] were focusing on other things that were clearly a distraction.”
Breed very effectively dodged the question on the role of animus over Lowell High diversity efforts, and that school’s especially vocal alumni community, when Chuck Todd brought it up as a factor in the school board recall. “At the end of the day, our kids were not in school,” Breed said, staying on message.
But the national message that’s getting flogged is what Todd called “frustration over so-called woke politics.” (And hmmm, why do conservatives prefer this term “woke” as their insult of choice? Golly, is that word racially loaded or some sort of dog whistle? Hmmm, can’t tell!) But Breed herself can sound a dog whistle too, judo-ing the word “conservative” to reinforce an accomplishment that is not discussed enough — that San Francisco has a vastly lower COVID-19 death toll than any other U.S. cities our size.
“We’ve been a leader during this COVID pandemic,” Breed said Sunday. “In some cases we have put forth the most conservative policies to ensure the safety of all San Franciscans.”
But the “woke revolt” narrative is surely winning the conventional wisdom discourse, as this weekend’s New York Times Maureen Dowd column shoehorned the school board recall into her latest ‘Dems in disarray’ thinkpiece (This one marginally renamed “Can Dems Dodge Doomsday?”). Quoting James Carville, Dowd wrote that “‘Seventy percent of the people in San Francisco tried to warn us,’ [Carville] said of the battle among Democrats that ended up with voters firing three far-left school board members who mandated a long break from in-person learning during the pandemic and who wanted to rechristen schools named after Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.”
And the conventional wisdom discourse also wants to analyze the recall as tea leaves for the June 7 Chesa Boudin recall election, and the appeal of Breed’s plans to be “more aggressive with law enforcement.” And yes, Meet the Press did play her “all the bullshit that has destroyed our city” quote, though they bleeped the word “bullshit.”
Surprisingly, Breed said of the Chesa Boudin recall that “I haven't made a decision one way or the other about the recall.” That's odd, because just one month ago on Kara Swisher’s New York Times podcast, Breed said “Oh, I do know how I’m going to vote” to basically the exact same question.
In other words, Meet the Press did not bleep all of London Breed’s bullshit quotes on Sunday’s broadcast.
Screenshot: NBC News via Youtube