News Release

Big Media and DNC: Distinguishing Policy Criticism from Slurs

ROBIN ANDERSEN, andersen at fordham.edu
Andersen is professor and director of graduate studies in the department of communication and media studies at Fordham University. She just wrote the piece “Not All Criticism of Kamala Harris Is Created Equal,” part of the media watch group FAIR’s focus on the 2020 election.

She writes: “Yet emerging as a corporate media frame is a sloppy, mystifying confusion that refuses to distinguish the racist and sexist slurs against Harris from an authentic discussion of the trajectory of her political positions, and what they might mean for her as a serving vice president and a potential future leader of the Democratic Party. Within this frame, criticisms from the left and the right are treated as equally offensive.

“This was evident early on in an opinion piece penned by Anthea Butler for NBC News (8/11/20), which asserted that after the announcement of Harris on the ticket, ‘the attacks and criticisms began flying across the web from conservatives and liberals alike. She’s ‘extraordinarily nasty.’ She’s ‘a cop.’ She’s too conservative — or she’s too liberal. She changes her mind constantly.’

“Criticizing the word ‘cop’ when applied to Kamala Harris makes little sense. In fact, the word comes from Harris herself. Harris served as San Francisco district attorney from 2004 to 2011, and as California attorney general from 2011 to 2017. Amid the fanfare of winning the position of California attorney general, speaking behind a podium with a victorious smile on her face, Kamala accepted her new position by saying, ‘And I now stand before you as the Top Cop in the biggest state in the country.’ To illustrate the sloppy nature of this frame that all criticism is equal, Harris is shown calling herself a ‘cop’ on a video segment sandwiched into Butler’s piece.”