Eighteen months ago, Vice President Kamala Harris was still campaigning to be the Democratic presidential nominee. At one point, she sat down with The Washington Post for a feature about her close relationship with her sister, Maya. The opening anecdote, however, cast Harris in an unfavorable light, as she “joked” about starving inmates and compared their conditions to what it was like campaigning for president.
That awful anecdote has now disappeared from the internet, as the Post replaced it with a comparison of the Harris sisters to John and Robert Kennedy, Reason’s Eric Boehm reported. The original article was published on July 23, 2019, but has since been “updated” and now carries a published date of January 11, 2021. The original opening paragraphs, posted by Boehm, are as follows:
It was the Fourth of July, Independence Day, and Kamala Harris was explaining to her sister, Maya, that campaigns are like prisons.
She’d been recounting how in the days before the Democratic debate in Miami life had actually slowed down to a manageable pace. Kamala, Maya and the rest of the team had spent three days prepping for that contest in a beach-facing hotel suite, where they closed the curtains to blot out the fun. But for all the hours of studying policy and practicing the zingers that would supercharge her candidacy, the trip allowed for a break in an otherwise all-encompassing schedule.
“I actually got sleep,” Kamala said, sitting in a Hilton conference room, beside her sister, and smiling as she recalled walks on the beach with her husband and that one morning SoulCycle class she was able to take.
“That kind of stuff,” Kamala said between sips of iced tea, “which was about bringing a little normal to the days, that was a treat for me.”
“I mean, in some ways it was a treat,” Maya said. “But not really.”
“It’s a treat that a prisoner gets when they ask for, ‘A morsel of food please,’ ” Kamala said shoving her hands forward as if clutching a metal plate, her voice now trembling like an old British man locked in a Dickensian jail cell. “‘And water! I just want wahtahhh….’Your standards really go out the f—ing window.”
Kamala burst into laughter.
The new opening now reads:
Finding people to trust in politics — a field full of mercenaries with their own interests at heart — can be a tough thing to do. It is no wonder so many people turn to family members: John F. Kennedy had Bobby, Joe Biden’s sister, Valerie, once ran his campaigns and Ivanka Trump has been one of the 45th president’s most visible advisers.
Kamala D. Harris has her younger sister, Maya Harris. The two are not only extremely close; during Kamala’s year-long presidential run, Maya served as her campaign chairwoman.
It is a job she for which she was uniquely qualified: She had been a senior adviser for Hillary Clinton in 2016, knows her sister better than anyone else and, professionally, is something of a yin to Kamala’s yang.
The partnership, however, did not yield the desired results, and Harris dropped out of the primary months before any votes were cast. Now, Maya Harris is stepping back from her sister’s career — at least officially, at least for now.
She has been far less visible in her sister’s public life since the elder Harris was named to the Democratic ticket in mid-August. Aides to the Vice President-elect have gone out of their way to emphasize that Maya will have no official role in the Biden-Harris administration, and Maya hopes to remove herself from the spotlight — in part to avoid even the tiniest semblance of the nepotism that defined the Trump era.
As Reason reported, the new version of the article also includes a new byline for political reporter Chelsea Janes, “who has authored several fawning pieces about Harris” in the past week alone.
Reason reached out to the Post about the update and whether there were any other examples of such changes. The Post’s communications manager told the outlet they “repurposed and updated some of our strong biographical pieces about both political figures,” but did not point to any other examples where this had been done. The Post also did not answer Reason’s question about “whether Harris’ team had requested the change.”
“[T]he decision to remove that specific passage—and to replace it with a puffy opening about how Maya has “been a constant companion along Kamala Harris’s journey into history”—is questionable at best. Yes, Harris’ inauguration as America’s first female vice president is historic, but that’s no reason to ignore or erase her troubling history as a cop and politician. It also raises questions about the Post’s approach to covering Harris going forward. At a time when legacy publications are increasingly seen as playing for one political “team” or the other, this type of editorial decision will not do anything to fix that perception—is there any doubt that the Post would not have treated an inartful comment from Mike Pence in the same way?” Reason wrote.
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