Politics

WTF Is Going On With The False News Story About Migrant Kids Getting VP Harris’ Book?

A New York Post reporter said she was “ordered” to write the false story. The tabloid has since issued an update that “only one known copy of the book was given to a child.”

Then-Senator Kamala Harris reads to her audience at a signing event for her children's book "Superheros Are Everywhere" on January 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. | Getty Images
Then-Senator Kamala Harris reads to her audience at a signing event for her children's book "Superheros Are Everywhere" on January 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. | Getty Images

Republicans who peddled the false New York Post story that migrant kids were given copies of Vice President Kamala Harris’ book have remained largely silent after the reporter behind it resigned, saying she was “ordered” to write the erroneous information. 

The Post’s story was published last week and inaccurately reported that migrant children at a shelter in Long Beach, California received the vice president’s 2019 children’s book “Superheroes Are Everywhere” in “welcome kits.” After the Washington Post published a fact-check of the story, the New York tabloid issued an editor’s note: “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.”

The reporter who wrote the story, Laura Italiano, announced Tuesday that she resigned from the New York Post.

“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,” Italiano said on Twitter.

What did Republicans say about the false story? 

After The Post’s story was originally published, prominent Republicans and Fox News promoted the false claim. Only the conservative network has since issued a correction. (Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch owns The Post and Fox News as well as The Wall Street Journal.) 

On April 26, Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, tweeted: “After learning officials are handing out Kamala Harris’ book to migrants in facilities at the border, it’s worth asking...Was Harris paid for these books? Is she profiting from Biden’s border crisis?” 

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) tweeted a similar question on April 27: “Is Kamala Harris profiting off the border crisis? Americans deserve to know.” 

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted on Sunday, “Now they’re forcing taxpayers to buy Kamala Harris’s book to give to those illegal immigrants?” 

Fox News had another high-profile correction this week; on Monday, anchor John Roberts said on-air that the network misled its viewers when it implied that President Joe Biden’s climate plan would cut red meat consumption in the U.S. by 90%. While Biden’s plan laid out specifics on infrastructural changes to combat emissions, it does not mention red meat.

The New York Post’s story didn’t include attributions for its claim, but included a photo taken at the Long Beach facility showing Harris’ book sitting against a backpack.

A Long Beach city spokesperson told the Washington Post that the book seen in the photo was donated in a “citywide book and toy drive.”

“The book was not purchased by HHS or the City,” Kevin Lee, the city’s spokesperson, told the Washington Post.

As of Wednesday, the tabloid article still says that “a children’s book [VP Harris wrote] was waiting there in a facility for young migrants who are being welcomed into the country,” even though it’s unclear whether any child was given the book.

The New York Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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