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Democracy Dies in Darkness: Washington Post backtracks after it’s caught burying Kamala Harris’ cringeworthy joke from old article

The Washington Post has restored a tone-deaf anecdote mocking prisoners’ suffering to its rightful place introducing a profile on the sister of then-candidate (now VP) Kamala Harris, after getting called out for removing it.

“We should have kept both versions of the story on the Post’s site…rather than redirecting to the updated one,” communications VP Kris Coratti admitted in a statement to Reason on Friday after the libertarian outlet caught WaPo memory-holing the cringe-inducing joke between Harris and her sister Maya, originally published in July 2019. 

In the temporarily-deleted anecdote, the former California attorney general compared her ability to “actually [get] sleep” amid her punishing presidential campaign schedule with a starving prisoner begging guards for “a morsel of food please…and water!”

According to the Post, Harris delivered the line “like an old British man locked in a Dickensian jail cell” before letting loose with the trademark cackle that has already become familiar to millions of Americans.

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The removed text offered a rare moment of insight into Harris’s presidential campaign – and its gaping flaws. Despite her rapid reinvention as an uber-liberal California senator and self-styled champion of the oppressed, Harris had a record as her state’s top prosecutor covering up for dirty cops, advocating for the imprisonment of truant children’s moms, suppressing exonerating evidence, letting mortgage fraudsters off the hook, and keeping nonviolent prisoners locked up past their parole dates in order to use them to fight wildfires on the cheap.

Joking about convicts being mistreated would have been in bad taste coming from anyone, but was especially egregious given her particular record. Considering that Harris’s campaign was arguably sunk by that same heinous history after rival and Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard reminded the American electorate of every unsavory detail on live television during one of the Democratic primary debates, that little “joke” summed it up better than anything she ever said in public. In casting herself as a warrior for the underdog, the California senator had merely laid bare her own privilege, alongside her utter lack of empathy and the absence of a single genuine bone in her body.

Indeed, given how many times she’s been caught in lies that were insulting precisely because they were so inconsequential, it’s a colossal irony that the Post chose to remove one of the rare genuine moments from the newly-inaugurated VP. From plagiarizing Martin Luther King Jr. with a claim she had, as a small child, raised a pint-sized demand for “fweedom,” to waxing nostalgic about her family’s Kwanzaa “traditions” that could only have taken root before the holiday even existed, Harris’s personality is a work of fiction.

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So, of course, is the Post’s slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” The outlet has been caught time and again trying to bury the journalistic equivalent of bodies in shallow graves, with the Harris sisters’ little joke only the most recent example. The outlet initially told Reason that the Harris profile was just one of several pieces revised for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. However, it couldn’t point to any other articles that had received such treatment or explain why that specific passage had been removed. Certainly, no one stepped up to explain why the replacement text consisted of blaming the failure of Harris’ campaign on its reluctance to heed her sister Maya’s suggestion: to acknowledge things she “would do differently now” rather than embrace her prosecutorial dumpster fire.

Indeed, the Post has a full plate of fictions that will need foisting on the American people over the next four years. Having been caught red-handed trying to shove a minor bit of history down the memory hole, they may have simply decided to choose their battles. After all, Harris was safely inaugurated earlier this week, and she won’t be facing another election for at least four years. That’s plenty of time to “build back better” her inauthentic personality.

The paper’s pivot to a unilaterally favorable line on Harris has merely served as more proof – as if this week’s fanboying over everything from Harris’ hair to her shoes wasn’t putrid enough – that WaPo is ready and waiting to serve as White House fluffer-in-chief for the next four years.

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