‘Sounds pretty reasonable’: Politico criticised for calling out Kamala Harris’s Bluetooth aversion

Story mocked VP over ‘well-known’ security concerns

John Bowden
Tuesday 07 December 2021 16:36 GMT
<p>Kamala Harris with her wired headphones</p>

Kamala Harris with her wired headphones

Politico, the Washington DC insider news organisation, was the target of criticism this week after one of its newsletters was headlined with a story calling out Vice President Kamala Harris for her preference for wired headphones over bluetooth.

The site, which focuses on the ins and outs of White House and congressional politics, has long been a source of irritation for media critics who argue that the mainstream DC press spends too much time attempting to appeal to conservative readers via attacking the Biden administration on unimportant issues.

That criticism exploded into view on Monday after the evening edition of West Wing Playbook was headed by a story criticising Ms Harris for an aversion to Bluetooth wireless headphone technology, apparently over security concerns.

The story noted that some aides find Ms Harris’s concerns about wireless earbuds “prudent”, while others called it “a bit paranoid”. It ran without comment from the White House, and ended with a criticism: “But still, should someone who travels with the nuclear football be spending time untangling her headphone wires? The American people deserve answers!”

Notably, no cybersecurity experts were quoted in the piece and the only source asked about what potential security concerns were presented by Bluetooth technology was the White House itself, though the issue has been covered in the past by other outlets.

Many, including experts and other journalists, pointed out that Ms Harris’ concerns about the security risks posed by Bluetooth tech were valid.

“Phobia??? Bluetooth is a well-known security risk—including the possibility of escalating and executing code—well, malware—on the phone,” wrote Dr Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist and programmer who writes about the social implications of technological advancement.

“Strongly suggest talking to cybersecurity experts—or even a Dr. Google consultation—before running such stories,” she added.

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