To call the first interview with Kamala Harris as a vice presidential candidate a softball would be an insult to softball interviews. MSNBC on Friday aired, uninterrupted, new contributor Errin Haines talking to Harris for 31 minutes solid. This is the same networks that aired just three percent of Donald Trump’s campaign kickoff speech. Haines ignored dealing with COVID as an issue. She censored any mention of the Democrat previously saying she thought Tara Reade, who accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, should be heard.
Instead, Haines gushed, “I'm just wondering about your thoughts about how this moment intersects with your own historic candidacy.” In another question, the journalist lauded, “If you become the first female vice president in the history of this country, what specifically can we expect you to fight for the women of this country?”
Instead of issues, Haines wondered, “Now that you've been tapped for this role, I wonder if it changes your own ambitions for your political future?” She didn’t ask about how Biden was going to end the coronavirus crisis. The journalist didn’t ask about Tara Reade. I interviewed the former Biden Senate staffer on Thursday and we talked about her sexual abuse claims and what Harris has said in the past:
In a May 8 interview with Megyn Kelly, Reade stated that she brought her 1993 allegations to Senator Harris. In an April 17 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle podcast, Harris said of Reade: “Listen, this woman has a right to tell her story, and I believe that, and I believe Joe Biden believes that, too.” In the podcast interview, Harris stated of her future running mate: “She has a right to tell her story, and she shouldn't face any repercussions for that.”
None of that came up on Friday though. Rather, there was a heavy focus on process: “I want to start by asking you how your name came up for this role? Is this something you told Joe Biden you were interested in, or did he approach you?”
Haines is the same woman who in July cheered on cancel culture as important to “tell the full truth about America.” She’s a writer for The 19th, which describes itself as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy.”
[Note for clarity: Haines DID mention COVID as a way of talking about racism and oppression. Like this quote for instance: “We've talked about the dual pandemics of coronavirus and systemic racism that people have been roiling us for several months.” But she did not ask Harris how the Biden administration would fight the virus.]
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.
2:40:37 to 3:12:02
31 minutes and 25 seconds
CHRIS JANSING: Coronavirus, the fight against coronavirus, one of the topics as promised, in this first interview with Senator Kamala Harris. It's a question and answer format. The first one since she was announced as Joe Biden's presidential pick. She spoke moments ago with MSNBC contributor Errin Haines as part of a conference held by a non-profit news agency, the 19th. Here's that conversation in its entirety.
ERRIN HAINES: Hello. I'm Errin Haines, editor at large for the 19th. And welcome to day five of the 19th represents. Today, we're in conversation with somebody who you may have seen in the headlines a bit this week. Senator Kamala Harris of California was announced Tuesday as the 2020 Democratic vice presidential nominee, a historic choice that ended months of speculation over which of the qualified, capable, and talented women Joe Biden would select as his running mate. Senator Harris, we're so excited that you could join us for your first extended conversation since joining the ticket. Thanks so much for being here.
HAINES: Well, thank you so much for stopping by. Listen, I know so many of the people out here watching today are wanting to hear directly from you about how we got to this moment. So let's talk about it. This veepstakes process, which must have been even more nerve-racking and high stakes for you than it was for all of us, and we're watching from the outside. I want to start by asking you how your name came up for this role? Is this something you told Joe Biden you were interested in, or did he approach you?
HAINES: I mean, you mentioned those talented women, many of whom you worked with, some of whom you ran against last year. What was it like to be in competition with so many of the women you knew, worked with, and respected? Did you talk to any of them during this process? Did that add to the pressure and anxiety of this process at all for you?
HAINES: Well, I know we have talked before about your belief that there should have been a woman on the ticket, period, whether it was going to be in the number one or number two spot. Certainly, you know, with Joe Biden declaring this spring that should he become the nominee, he was going to put a woman on the ticket was very exciting for the majority of the electorate, women, in this country, and you know, as that conversation continued, there was some talk about whether -- who that woman should be. Should that be a woman of color, and specifically a black woman. I want to ask you, did you feel that Joe Biden needed to choose a black woman or a woman of color as his running mate, and is that something you talked to him about at any point in this process?
HAINES: I mean you talk about that as a risk. I mean, there are some people who have asked me, you know if the thought Joe Biden was making the safest choice by doing that. I certainly don't agree with the premise of that question. But I wonder what you think about the risk that that is, you know, that that is the choice that he made that he did choose you and he is making a historic choice. There's never been a black woman nominated for vice president on a major party ticket before.
HAINES: Yeah. I want you to tell us, if you can, about your final interview with Joe Biden.
SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS: Okay.
HAINES: Where was it, how long did it last? How would you describe it? I would think it would probably have been the hardest and most important job interview of your life.
HAINES: Yeah, that's certainly -- well, I mean, you know, we've talked about the dual pandemics of coronavirus and systemic racism that people have been roiling us for several months. It seems like the criteria changed so much in terms of what Joe Biden might need as campaigning and a governing partner, should he win in November, I wonder if that changed what you thought the case of what you potentially brought to this ticket and this administration?
HAINES: You mentioned your husband Doug and your speech on Wednesday, you were joined by Doug, who they mentioned during the event, I remember seeing Doug quite a bit on the campaign trail.
HAINES: I suspect we may hear from Doug in the coming days as he introduces himself to the country and prepares for the prospect of taking on a historic role himself, that of Second Man.
HARRIS: Isn't that something?
HAINES: What can you say about that? Is he up for the job?
HAINES: You know, also in your remarks on Wednesday, you gave a nod to the heroic and ambitious women who came before you. I remember when you announced your candidacy for president you did so in the pioneering spirit of Shirley Ch, your mother. As we prepare to mark the centennial of women’s suffrage, obviously our newsroom is named for the 19th Amendment. But with an asterisk for the women who were omitted from full franchise to the franchise.
HARRIS: Until 1965.
HARRIS: I'm just wondering about your thoughts about how this moment intersects with your own historic candidacy.
HAINES: I'm glad you asked that.
HAINES: My first story for The 19th was about you and your campaign last year and issues of race and issues of race and gender. You obviously ran as the lone black woman in a crowded Democratic presidential primary, I'm wondering, just to hear from you about how the role of race and gender, how you saw that play out in your campaign and how, you know, that experience, your qualifications and your lived experience, how you bring those lessons to the fight ahead in this general election and how you may govern going forward?
HAINES: If you become the first female vice president in the history of this country, what specifically can we expect you to fight for the women of this country?
HAINES: We at The 19th couldn't agree more that all issues are women's issues and so thank you for underscoring and reminding people about that. I also wonder, you know, now that you've been tapped for this role, I wonder if it changes your own ambitions for your political future? What does this mean for women across the country who may be thinking about their political ambitions and what is possible?
HAINES: Yes, to your point about not being the last black woman to represent the state of California, out of the U.S. Senate, should you become the next Vice President of the United States, your senate seat will be open, are there black women who would you like to see possibly succeeding you in that seat should you elevate to the number two position in the country?
HAINES: I want to also talk about this election, we're obviously seeing concerns over voter suppression, voter depression possibly, the need for, you know, turnout, the kind of turnout that you all are going to need to win in November, even in the midst in the pandemic. Certainly I'm seeing a lot of black women in particular who are galvanized by the announcement of your joining this ticket. What do you think black women in particular are going to do in November in terms of turning out in the midst of this pandemic, what do you think that your addition to this ticket does to excite and energize the base of the Democratic Party?
HAINES: you certainly have been somebody who has been out during the Black Lives Matter movement return this summer with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery but yet we see a climate that's racialized and a president that has already kind of returned to a racial playbook heading into November. We said in, you know, during this past year that racism is on the ballot for a lot of Americans and Joe Biden said this is the battle for the soul of America. What does that mean to you and how concerned are you about, you know, this national reckoning and how it may play out in our election for voters?