CNN’s Jim Acosta slammed Fox News as a “bull**** factory” for amplifying a repeatedly debunked story about Kamala Harris that was published across right-wing media, alleging that the vice president was exploiting her office to profit from the arrival of migrant children in shelters at the US-Mexico border by stocking copies of her book in “welcome kits” for them.
The incorrect story was removed from the website then republished with an editor’s note, and the reporter who wrote it resigned.
“That tale from the border didn’t just border on BS. This was USDA Grade A bull****,” Mr Acosta said on Saturday. “But the damage was done, pumped out over the airwaves at the bull**** factory also known as Fox News.”
CNN aired a clip from a Fox News discussion that children “are being given a book, everyone is given a copy, apparently” of the vice president’s book.
The New York Post published a front-page story on 23 April that the vice president’s 2019 children’s book Superheroes Are Everywhere was included in “welcome kits” for migrant children, sparking outrage on the right.
A single copy of the book was donated during a book drive organised by the city of Long Beach, California, which has collected thousands of books “to support and comfort children” at a shelter operated by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Ms Harris’s book was photographed by a child’s cot, along with several other books by different authors.
The Post story was briefly taken offline then updated with an editor’s note that “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.”
A web headline changed from “Kamala isn’t at the southern border – but migrant kids are getting Veep’s book” to “Kamala isn’t at the southern border – but at least one migrant kid got Veep’s book.”
In its version of the story, Fox News alleged that the “inclusion of the book raises questions over who is providing funding for the welcome packs” before adding an editor’s note that the previous version of the story “implied there were multiple copies of Harris’ book available for children in welcome packs.”
The author of the Post story, Laura Italiano, announced on 27 April that “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.”
CNN pointed out that prominent Republicans, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, continue to amplify the false claims. The Louisiana congressman has not removed a Twitter post from 27 April in which he asks: “Is Kamala Harris profiting off the border crisis? Americans deserve to know.”
His post remained online as of 2 May.
Senator Tom Cotton also has not removed a post accusing Joe Biden’s administration of “forcing taxpayers to buy Kamala Harris’s book to give to those illegal immigrants”.
GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel also asked: “Has Harris paid for these books? Is she profiting from Biden’s border crisis?”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies