Kamala, the media’s yas queen
The tongue baths are plashing like steep cataracts already. And September has yet to show its warm, vermillion glow.
The verbiage class is slobbering over their MacBook Airs, drafting cloying encomium after cloying encomium for their new YAS QUEEN, the junior senator from California, Kamala Harris.
In fulfilling his promise to tokenize a
colored woman of color as his beholden second-order, Joe Biden lifted the Golden State senator out of that gibbering upper congressional chamber where she had a say in legislation and could pointedly cross-examine testifiers only to make her a political pin-up girl.
And who, exactly, was the hungry target audience Team Biden meant to satiate with the Harris hoist? Normal Democrat voters who’d pull the lever for any seedy fellow, whether it be Ted Kacinski, Il Duce, or Casey Anthony, if it meant beating Trump? Hardly. This was fan service for the Democrats’ loudest cheering section: the media.
“The style of Obama-era reporting is back!” declared one Washington Examiner writer. The style he’s referring to will be familiar to anyone sentient during the 44th President’s term: style over substance; liberal use of complimentary adjectives like “strong,” “resolute” and “historic”; obsessive focus on bodily details, like chin angles and pupil depth. The general dispensation is that of a fawning spouse. Harris is a trophy wife; the reporting clique is her uxorious husband. And we’re all unwillingly in tow for the honeymoon.
The arrangement is nothing short of marital bliss. Kamala never removes her plastic Party Depot-purchased permanent-smile mask. It’s powered by admiration radiating from chirpy media scrums that follow her around Capitol Hill halls.
The treacle train over “Auntie Kamala” took off from the press station immediately after Biden’s announcement. “Don't think I've seen a candidate in awhile who seemed as purely happy and joyful as Harris during that speech,” Nick Confessore, a New York Times reporter, observed, with natch total objectivity, during Harris’s first official address as veep nominee. After President Trump referred to Harris as “mad,” the D.N.C.’s mini schnauzer and alleged CNN correspondent John Harwood made this incisive remark: “can [the] ‘so angry...mad woman’ attack work against someone with the smile Kamala Harris has?” Bulletin to Harwood: the senator is taken. Aim your lusty sights on singles.
Another CNN reporter dropped her journalist title and picked up the fashion critic métier to gush over Harris’s “sensible blue suit and pearls and sensible heels.” Had the senator appeared in acid-washed cutoffs, Doc Martens, a fishnet top, with a newly styled faux hawk and nose ring, you can imagine the giddy exclamation over her edginess. Had she walked on stage stark naked, she’d be celebrated as a defiant envelope-pusher. The headline “Future Vice President and Mega Bad B*tch Kamala Harris DESTROYS White Patriarchy Fashion Norms” would grace the Buzzfeed homepage.
All this smarmy coverage is in warm and fuzzy contrast to the stark, dismissive tone the media used during Harris’s short-lived presidential campaign. As just another squawking hopeful in the candidate rookery, the senator was regularly caught out by journalists for her out-of-plumb consistency on policy, especially health care. But now the takes factory’s conveyer belt has been reversed. Veteran media critic Jack Shafer sums up the change in reporting dynamic: “there’s nothing like a political promotion, especially one that could lead to a presidency, to make the press corps adjust the seasoning and serving presentation on a candidate.” Instead of pouring salt on Harris’s wounded record as a failed also-ran, the media is buttering her up with unctuous flattery.
Nothing between now and November will break up the moony love affair. Not even the senator’s plain lack of convictions will call off the courting. Despite her uniformly liberal voting history, Harris has no beliefs; her ethos is her own propulsion up the echelons of power. If she embraces progressive policies, it’s because the voters who award her power demand it of her. In that, she’s the perfect small-d democrat: she gives the people anything and everything they want in exchange for access and prestige.
Reporters are making the same Faustian bargain. They’re trading simpering coverage for access to the campaign. The result is lifestyle-focused puff pieces with headlines like, “Where does Kamala Harris’s toughness come from? The two indomitable women who raised her.”
Will these billets-doux sell with the curious public? That depends on if the Biden-Harris ticket gets enough suburban votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The press is staking on a Democratic-controlled White House in 2021, and the friendly admission that comes with it.
Same as it ever was.
Caricature by Donkey Hotey (cropped)