- The now revised and republished story wrongly claimed that a picture book written by the vice president was being included in welcome kits given to migrant children at a California shelter.
This past weekend, the New York Post carried a cover story accusing Vice President Kamala Devi Harris of personally profiting from the immigration situation at the border, instead of addressing it. The story — “KAM ON IT” — claimed that copies of Harris’ picture book — “Superheroes are Everywhere” — were being included in welcome kits given to migrant children at a shelter in Long Beach, California. “Kamala isn’t at the southern border, but a children’s book she wrote was waiting there in a facility for young migrants who are being welcomed into the country,” read the story by Laura Italiano. The New York Post is owned by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
As per The New York Times, the article seemed to have achieved its purpose — “enrage Republicans” who have called out the vice president or not yet visiting the border, or holding a press conference. Without wasting any time, GOP lawmakers and leadership began tweeting about the article, demanding answers from the Biden administration.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in a tweet, wrote: “This should be a straight yes or no answer from the White House: are taxpayers paying for copies of the Vice President’s book to be handed out at migrant shelters?”
Similarly, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted: “The Biden administration’s weakness caused a surge of illegal immigration”
GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted: “After learning officials are handing out Kamala Harris’ book to migrants in facilities at the border, it’s worth asking…Was Harris paid for these books? Is she profiting from Biden’s border crisis?”
Fox News’ Laura Ingraham also took to the micro blogging site. “Actually, forcing the migrants to read VP Kamala Harris’s book may be an innovative way to get them to self-deport,” she tweeted.
Not surprising that Fox News, also owned by Murdoch, jumped into the bandwagon, denouncing Biden and Harris. It published an article online by Morgan Phillips – “Kamala Harris’ office stated ignorance of how her book was available for migrant kids at California shelter.”
And on April 26, a Fox News reporter Peter Doocy even asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki about it. “I have to certainly check on that. Hear it’s a good book,” Psaki replied.
Conservative Dinesh D’Souza tweeted: “There are credible reports that the Biden Administration is giving illegal immigrants copies of Kamala Harris’ book when they cross the border. No need to worry though! Jen Psaki hears “It’s a good book!”
But there was a huge problem with the GOP reaction and criticism. The claims made in the New York Post article were totally fictitious and untrue, prompting the author of the story to resign. Announcing that she’s stepping down on April 27, Italiano tweeted: “The Kamala Harris story — an incorrect story I was ordered to write and which I failed to push back hard enough against — was my breaking point.”
The factual errors in the New York Post story were first reported by The Washington Post on April 23. Quoting Long Beach spokesman, Kevin Lee, the Washington Post said that a community member had donated a single copy of the Harris children’s book and that it was not going to be handed in the welcome kits. Lee told the Washington Post that neither the federal government nor the city government had purchased copies of the Harris book. Lee told CNN that books will be made available at the shelter in an informal library.
Since the scandal broke, the New York Post temporarily took down the story and later revised it and republished it. The republished version does not claim that the Harris book was being placed in welcome kits, and mentions the fact that the book was donated by a community member. However, it still claims that “it’s just the latest open-arms gesture by the Biden administration, whose mixed messaging regarding the border and immigration has been credited with the surge from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border.” There’s also an editor’s note at the bottom which says: “The original version of this article said migrant kids were getting Harris’ book in a welcome kit, but has been updated to note that only one known copy of the book was given to a child.”
The New York Post has also published an article on the Fox reporter’s exchange with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on April 26. Written by Mark Moore, the story is headlined “Psaki has no answers when asked about Harris’ book being given to child migrants.” A similar editor’s note is at the bottom of this story as well.
The Washington Post has traced how the “imaginary” scandal broke. During a media tour of the Long Beach shelter on April 22, Southern California News Group staff photographer Brittany Murray took a photo of a single copy of the book “sitting on a cot along with a backpack and hygiene items,” the Post said. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Percy, a Long Beach Press-Telegram reporter who was on the tour with Murray, told Post in an email that he did not see any other copies of Harris’ book while on the tour. “I did not see anything suggesting that the children would be receiving any books in welcome kits upon their arrival.”
The federally operated shelter at the Long Beach Convention Center, which opened on April 22, is scheduled to operate until August, and will house migrant children who arrived unaccompanied at the border with Mexico.
“Superheroes are Everywhere” was published in January 2019, In this empowering and joyful picture book that speaks directly to kids, Kamala Harris takes readers through her life and shows them that the power to make the world a better place is inside all of us. And with fun and engaging art by Mechal Renee Roe, as well as a guide to being a superhero at the end, this book is sure to have kids taking up the superhero mantle (cape and mask optional).with an empowering message: Superheroes are all around us–and if we try, we can all be heroes too. Now a #1 New York Times bestseller!
Social media was flooded with Harris’ supporters as well. They decried the New York Post story and praised Harris for her work. “My daughter is graduating college in a couple of weeks,” tweeted Val Jones. “I ordered Superheroes Are Everywhere by Kamala Harris for one of her gifts. I think we should all buy her book after this story.”
“FUN FACT: The Biden admin giving the Kamala Harris book to undocumented border children is a fake story,” tweeted a political satirist. “The RNC spending over $300K to buy Don Jr.’s book is a real story.”
Another user tweeted: “There’s been no leaks, no scandals, so the GOP is making up bullshit stories about cheeseburgers and Kamala Harris’ book. All from Rupert Murdoch.”