US Vice President Kamala Harris has told her inner circle she would get better press coverage if she was one of her 48 white, male predecessors and has turned to Hillary Clinton for advice in the face of low approval ratings according to a new report on Thursday.
And she has concluded she would get better treatment in the media if she were white and male like all of her predecessors, telling her allies as much.
Harris has contended with departing aides and gripes about her leadership style, amid complaints from within her circle about the difficult tasks she has been assigned, including dealing with ‘root causes’ of migration.
For guidance, she has sought out Clinton, who lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump, and famously once complained about a ‘right-wing conspiracy’ against her.
The former senator from New York who served as secretary of state under Barack Obama said Harris isn’t being treated equally.
‘There is a double standard; it’s sadly alive and well,’ the told the New York Times.
‘A lot of what is being used to judge her, just like it was to judge me, or the women who ran in 2020, or everybody else, is really colored by that,’ she said.
Clinton devoted parts of her post-election book, What Happened, to identifying a host of causes for her own defeat.
Among them were former FBI Director James Comey, the media for focusing on her emails, the New York Times in particular, Russian President Vladimir Putin for the hacking effort, and Sen. Bernie Sanders for his internecine attacks.
Faced with her own attacks by Republicans amid critical media coverage, Harris ‘has turned to powerful confidantes, including Clinton, to help plot a path forward,’ the Times reported. She hosted Clinton in her West Wing office in November, the paper reported.
The paper reported on Harris’ struggles in a detailed story that does not have a quote from the vice president, who flew home to Los Angeles Wednesday as her office revealed Harris had come in close contact with an aide Tuesday who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
‘Ms. Harris has privately told her allies that the news coverage of her would be different if she were any of her 48 predecessors, all of whom were white and male,’ according to the account. ‘She also has confided in them about the difficulties she is facing with the intractable issues in her portfolio, such as voting rights and the root causes of migration.’
If Harris is indeed complaining about the voting rights portfolio, it is an issue that President Biden has called paramount, even amid unanimous GOP opposition to Democratic efforts.
‘It’s the single-biggest issue,’ Biden said last week, amid the apparent collapse of his Build Back Better package. ‘There’s nothing domestically more important.’
Defending Harris in the piece are longtime ally Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, who challenged Harris and Joe Biden during the 2020 primaries.
‘What the White House could’ve done is been clearer with the expectations of what was supposed to happen under her watch,’ said Bass.
Said Buttigieg, who has drawn mostly positive coverage during his own tenure, while taking some hits in the media for his two-month paternity leave after adopting twins: ‘I think it’s no secret that the different things she has been asked to take on are incredibly demanding, not always well understood publicly and take a lot of work as well as a lot of skill,’ he said, having been tasked with selling the more popular bipartisan infrastructure bill.
‘You have to do everything except one thing, which is take credit,’ he said.
Harris is the first black woman to ever fill the vice-presidential role, which has long been derided as a difficult job – although in recent years vice presidents have become key advisors and powers in their own right.
She has also reached out to former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, as well as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The article begins with an anecdote about a summer meeting where Biden was cranking up his efforts to get the support of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Instead of asking for her strategy assessment – Harris served alongside Manchin in the Senate – Biden asked her to come by and say a ‘quick hello’ before exiting, it says. Biden himself served 36 years in the Senate and served two terms as vice president, when he helped steer Obama legislation through the Senate.