On CNN’s New Day Wednesday, co-host John Berman and his panel obsessed over Tucker Carlson’s mispronunciation of Biden VP pick Kamala Harris’s name. They used a clip of Carlson arguing with Democrat Richard Goodstein about the importance of getting the pronunciation right as an excuse to complain about the constant racism and sexism supposedly faced by Harris, a woman of Jamaican and Indian heritage.
The clip began with Goodstein informing Carlson, who had pronounced Harris’ first name “Kamm-a-la,” that her name was pronounced “Comma, like the punctuation mark, la.” When Carlson responded to the correction with a “so what,” Goodstein argued that “out of respect for somebody who’s going to be on the national ticket,” pronouncing her name correctly was a “bare minimum.”
At this point, Carlson asked Goodstein a rhetorical question: “I’m disrespecting her by mispronouncing her name unintentionally?” He concluded that “You’re not allowed to criticize Kamala Harris or Kamm-a-la Harris or whatever.”
Carlson’s use of the phrase “whatever” did not sit well with CNN political commentator Angela Rye, one of the panelists on New Day Wednesday. Rye went so far as to smear Carlson as a racist: “It’s not ‘whatever.’ It is about you having to finally face what you have done to this country, to black people, to black women.”
Former Hillary Clinton staffer Karen Finney agreed with Rye, proclaiming that Carlson’s mispronunciation of Harris’ name was “part of the racism and sexism that women deal with all the time, people of color deal with all the time.” Finney also took issue with Carlson’s characterization of Harris as a transactional politician who says whatever she is told to say, once again crying sexism.
Towards the end of the discussion about Carlson, Berman remarked “I call him Schmucker Carlson but it’s an ethnic term so he might not understand.” The panel laughed in amusement.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Wednesday’s edition of New Day is below. Click “expand” to read more.
New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman
JOHN BERMAN: I want you to listen to how Tucker Carlson, the…the best he could do was to somehow mangle her name. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TUCKER CARLSON: Just tell Kamala Harris what to say, and she will say it. That is the whole point of Kamala Harris.
RICHARD GOODSTEIN: Tucker, can I just say one quick thing because this is…
CARLSON: Of course.
GOODSTEIN: …something that will serve you and your fellow hosts on Fox. Her name is pronounced “Comma, like the punctuation mark, la,” Kamala. Okay?
GOODSTEIN: Seriously, I have heard every sort of bastardization.
CARLSON: Okay, so what?
GOODSTEIN: That’s how it is, Kamala.
CARLSON: Okay. But that’s…
GOODSTEIN: Well, I think it’s out of respect for somebody who’s going to be on the national ticket, pronouncing her name right is actually …
GOODSTEIN: It’s not, it’s kind of a bare…
CARLSON: So I’m…
GOODSTEIN: … minimum. That’s all.
CARLSON: …disrespecting her by mispronouncing her name unintentionally? So it begins. You’re not allowed to criticize Kamala Harris, or Kamala Harris or whatever.
GOODSTEIN: Kamala. No, no, no.
CARLSON: Because of…Kamala Harris…
GOODSTEIN: It’s not whatever.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BERMAN: All right. Look, I actually think that’s…you know, you’re all laughing. Well, why are you laughing? How, why is it funny, or is it funny?
ANGELA RYE: It’s…it’s not, it’s not…it’s, it’s, it’s kind of just ridiculous at this point. And I think, you know, seriously, to defend Tucker Carlson for once, at least on the initial pronunciation, a ton of people do. And yes, we’re going to have to get very used to sending people the phonetic spelling of Kamala’s name. I don’t understand why it’s so hard, that’s also why I’m laughing. But then at the end it’s laughable, because he’s like, “or whatever.” So, it…it’s like, no, it’s not “whatever.” It is about you having to finally face what you have done to this country, to black people, to black women. There’s nothing “or whatever” about this moment. We fought for this moment. We organized for this moment. And we celebrated when this moment arrived. So, there’s nothing “whatever” about this moment. And yes, I am calling this moment Ka-ma-la, Ka-ma-la, Ka-ma-la.
HILL: But to your point, you know, you know, to that point, picking up on that, Karen, when you look…
KAREN FINNEY: Yeah.
HILL: …when you look at it, yes, there is the absurdity of that moment. But there is also, you know, what we see at play, right, which you pointed out, Angela, right, black women have had to deal with forever. And so now there’s this reckoning that’s taking place in the country as a whole. It’s also something we’re seeing in this ticket. But to, you know, continue to downplay, right, and ignore someone and purposely mispronounce their name as if that is somehow going to diminish what they have done to get to this point, I think that is an important discussion too, right? Because we’re going to see a lot more of it.
FINNEY: It’s absolutely…I mean, it is part of the racism and sexism that women deal with all the time, people of color deal with all the time. You know, it is like saying “sit down, shut up, we don’t want to hear from you, you don’t actually matter.” And that’s part of why this pick…again, I go back to Erica, what you had just asked me. You know, you can’t say this was a safe choice because this is going to in some ways mean that we’re going to keep having this conversation. I mean, look, people had to learn how to say Barack Obama. They learned it, we did fine. So they’re going to learn. They’re going to be…it’s going to be fine. We are going to have to have this conversation. And to suggest, you know, as part of that, that a woman, you just tell a woman what to say and she’s going to say it. Are you kidding me? This is a woman who was elected statewide in the state of California three times, she is someone who has been in the legislative branch as well as been an executive as…as Attorney General and then as also District Attorney, this is a very accomplished woman with a very distinguished record. They’re going to do, this is the playbook. They’re going to do everything they can to try to diminish and belittle this woman. But that’s part of the genius of this pick. It’s going to backlash because it’s going to remind all those voters who are already fairly disgusted with Trump, that we saw moving away from him in 2018, why they think he’s just mean and divisive and not right for this country.
BERMAN: I call him Shmucker Carlson, but it’s an ethnic term so he might not understand it.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Wednesday’s edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Tucker Carlson Tonight
TUCKER CARLSON: If you watched last night’s show, you may recall that during the opening segment, we apparently, unknowingly mispronounced Kamala Harris’ name. It is pronounced “Comma,” not semicolon, “Comma,” like the punctuation mark, “ala” Harris. Fine. It was a mistake. But it was treated as an act of bigotry, a grave offense against the honor of a sitting U.S. Senator. CNN was outraged. Of all the things going on in the world today, they wanted you to know that someone out there had mispronounced Kamala Harris’ name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JOHN BERMAN: I want you listen to how Tucker Carlson, the…the best he could do was to somehow mangle her name. Listen.
CARLSON: Just tell Kamala Harris what to say and she will say it. That is the whole point of Kamala Harris.
BERMAN: I call him Schmucker Carlson but it’s an ethnic term so he might not understand it.
ANGELA RYE: But then at the end it’s laughable, because he’s like, “or whatever.” So, it…it’s like, no, it’s not “whatever.” It is about you having to finally face what you have done to this country, to black people, to black women. There’s nothing “or whatever” about this moment.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
CARLSON: We actually try not to play that tape like that very often, because it’s not edifying and those people are so personally unhappy, they’re already suffering, but this was just too amusing so we…we had to. By the way, all of CNN turned out last night to watch this show. One of them, who’s paid by CNN to watch this alleged a conspiracy, he tweeted that we claim this was unintentional but our show often does mispronounce the names of people we’re critical of. It’s the sort of thing on his show. “It seems pretty intentional!” Then a senior political analyst at CNN even claimed the pronunciation was an attempt to play the victim in the story because Kamala Harris “didn’t appear on the scene yesterday,” whatever that means. So, but the bottom line is, look, any criticism of Kamala Harris is immoral, anyone who so much as mispronounces her name is a racist. That’s what they’re telling you. So, with that in mind, pretty amusing to watch old Joe Biden himself mispronounce Kamala Harris’ name today, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN: I told him I wanted to be the last person in the room before he made the important decisions. That’s what I asked Kamala.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: It’s just too awesome! Just when you think darkness is descending, old Joe Biden shows up and the sun begins to rise, rescued again by Joe Biden. Thank you, Joe. What a bigot.