'Where’s our Governor?' Gavin Newsom returns to public eye after his wife confronts Twitter critics

Scott Gleeson
USA TODAY

Twitter users grilled Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, about a new tweet and a since-deleted tweet before her husband reemerged Tuesday after canceling an appearance to the United Nations' climate change conference in Scotland, citing "family obligations." 

Online speculation had grown as Newsom stayed out of public view since an Oct. 29 event, though his press secretary Daniel Lopez told the San Francisco Chronicle that the governor worked at the Capitol last week and that his usual appearances would resume this week.

Siebel Newsom, an award-winning filmmaker, posted Monday about a new project called "Fair Play," a documentary investigating domestic inequality. But commenters were far more interested in Gov. Newsom's whereabouts. #WheresGavinNewsom quickly began to trend. 

"Where’s our Governor @GavinNewsom? Post video if he’s alive and okay," one Twitter user wrote.

"Where’s Newsome? Is he playing hookie at home sick from the VAX?" another user wrote. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses reporters on Tuesday night in Sacramento after beating back a recall attempt that aimed to remove him from office.

Lopez noted that the governor's conference cancellation last month was not a result of the COVID-19 booster shot he received in his last public appearance. Newsom was in San Francisco on Saturday for the wedding of Getty oil heiress Ivy Love Getty, according to an ABC report that noted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was an officiant. 

Backlash had centered particularly on the booster shot, with speculation about the safety of boosters coming into question with Newsom out of the public eye. The booster shots are safe and effective and have limited side effects, according to medical experts

Fact check:Booster shots are normal, not evidence of failed vaccine, experts say

COVID-19 vaccine and kids:Everything to know about the vaccine and children, like where to get it, results of study

On Tuesday, Newsom was back in the public eye at the 2021 California Economic Summit and offered an explanation for his hiatus.

“I’ve been on this damn treadmill. We’ve gone from crisis to crisis, from wildfires and extremes from droughts and social justice and unrest, obviously with COVID. I had this recall you may have read about,” Newsom said.

The governor added that his kids “literally, they kind of had an intervention. They said they couldn’t believe that I was going to miss Halloween” when he was scheduled to travel to Europe for the conference.  

“I woke up that next morning with something that’s probably familiar to a lot of parents, that knot in your stomach,” Newsom said, explaining that he “had to cancel that trip.”  

As for the Twitter criticism, Newsom said, “I think we’d all do well taking some time away from social media.” 

Siebel Newsom was also criticized for deleting a Sunday tweet in which she criticized the public for scrutiny of her family's obligations and wrote, "Certain folks can't handle truth." 

The tweet, according to the Sacramento Bee, read: "When someone cancels something, maybe they’re just in the office working; maybe in their free time they’re at home with their family, at their kids’ sports matches, or dining out with their wife. Please stop hating and get a life."

Newsom's absence from the public eye had been peculiar, and his decision to skip the U.N. climate change conference – where he would have been among major world leaders – was viewed as even more puzzling because Newsom has promoted California as a leader by banning the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035. 

Newsom’s office did not immediately respond Tuesday morning to USA TODAY's requests for comment.