As Red State‘s streiff wrote Sunday, Sen. Kamala Harris enjoyed some fawning press coverage over the weekend thanks to female journalists-turned-fashion-consultants to the 2020 hopeful.
A quick recap, via Fox News‘s Brian Flood:
A group of political reporters hit the campaign trail with California Sen. Kamala Harris on Saturday but took a break from the political journalism, instead encouraging the Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful to try on clothes and giggle with her at a South Carolina boutique.
CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston, NBC News political reporter Ali Vitali and CBS News political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns documented the laugh-filled shopping spree on Twitter. (Notably, all three reporters are billed as straight-news journalists, as opposed to opinion hosts.)
As Flood noted, these are straight-news journalists, not opinion writers. It’s hard to believe that, though, when you look at Reston’s tweet – for starters:
We kind of forced @kamalaharris to try on this awesome oversized rainbow sequin jacket … She snapped it up. @alivitali perfectly named it as “the Mardi Gras Jacket” #2020 #SouthCarolina #CampaignFashionReport pic.twitter.com/2G0NFRkKL6
— Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) February 16, 2019
And there was also this from Vitali:
— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) February 16, 2019
Political analyst Brit Hume was one of the more vocal critics. He slammed the trio’s gushfest over glam queen Kamala in several tweets. “This is just embarrassing. So now journalists are going shopping with Harris, helping pick out clothes and then putting out glowing tweets about it,” he said in one.
In response to the criticism – which was widespread, a bevy of journalists – most of them female – rushed to the Twitter machine to defend themselves and their colleagues from the backlash.
Huey-Burns responded to Hume’s tweet by suggesting that the journos in question (including Huey-Burns herself) were merely covering the campaign stops because that’s what was on Harris’s schedule. Completely omitted from her defense was the fact that they were actively participating in the fashion show by giving Harris items to try on and cheering as she did so.
Later, Huey-Burns also tweeted:
And the boutiques @KamalaHarris visited today were owned by women who faced serious hardships growing up and see entrepreneurship as a way out and up. This particular shop is also a non profit that helps disadvantaged people dress for success.
— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurns) February 16, 2019
In other words, our lopsided coverage was for a good cause, so shut up about it already.
NBC‘s Kasie Hunt made sure to invoke the “female” angle of the reporting, insinuating that it was sexist to criticize the lady journos in comparison to coverage male candidates had received in the past. Hume again responded:
Talk about missing the point. Did journalists help Walker pick out his motorcycle, then gush about it on Twitter? Did they they help Romney on with his life jacket? That Kamala Harris shopping incident wasn’t coverage, it was participation. https://t.co/tjg7OqJ7uu
— Brit Hume (@brithume) February 16, 2019
The Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto had a good point in response to defenders using the “but Sean Hannity and Trump” defense:
A lot of responses to this tweet have been to the effect of "Sean Hannity is partisan too." Indeed he is. I wonder why people imagine that likening CBS and CNN reporters to Hannity is a DEFENSE. https://t.co/kCnxtNegTw
— James Taranto (@jamestaranto) February 17, 2019
Hume and Taranto are exactly right here. The fangirling by the lady reporters betrays what straight-news political journalism is supposed to be about: Earnest, focused coverage involving questions about the important issues that matter to Americans.
Once upon a time, a journalist focusing on the fashion choices of female candidates was viewed as demeaning to their bonafides as contenders for higher office who should be taken seriously.
Not only that, but no one would have taken issue with this past weekend’s Kamala coverage anyway if Reston and company hadn’t been all “Slay, Queen, slay!” about the colorful jacket that they picked out for the presidential candidate to try on.
Reston snapped back at critics of her reporting by playing the – you guessed it – “sexist!” card, and retweeted an enthusiastic vote of confidence from LA Times columnist and culture writer Robin Abcarian:
You are the best. I love you. Life on the campaign trail is full of small, human moments. Some are contrived and some are spontaneous. Fuck the haters.
— Robin Abcarian (@AbcarianLAT) February 17, 2019
In other words, look for more of the same from Reston because she will not be deterred from
fangirling over humanizing female Democratic candidates in the face of all that misogynistic pouncing!
—Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–