In the immediate wake of the news that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) to be his running mate, Fox News amplified a false attack from the Trump campaign that Harris had once called Biden a racist — with one of the network’s purported “news”-side figures still defending the claim after it was further debunked on the air.
During a key moment in the first set of Democratic primary debates, Harris called out Biden for statements he had made about having enjoyed a sense of comity in the U.S. Senate in the 1970s, including with senators who were segregationists, as well as for his opposition during that time to school busing programs to achieve integration.
“And I’m going to now direct this at Vice President Biden: I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris said. “But I also believe, and it’s personal — and I was actually very — it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”
On the August 11 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts read part of a Trump campaign statement on Harris’ selection, quoting Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson claiming, “Not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received.”
Toward the end of the segment, anchor Neil Cavuto circled back to that particular attack by the Trump campaign: “By the way, the real quick clarification I just want to get, I mean, the president seems to be saying that Kamala Harris had called Joe Biden a racist — she never did.”
“No, and again, it wasn't the president who issued the statement, it was Katrina Pierson who issued this statement on behalf of the president and the president's campaign,” Roberts said, before proceeding to defend the claim itself. “But clearly, in that confrontation in the debate, it was an uncomfortable moment. She did demand an apology. Whether or not she actually said the word ‘racist’ or not, I mean, the intimation was there.”
Just to be clear, Harris did use the word “racist” — in order to say specifically that she was not calling Biden any such thing.
The Trump campaign statement was also repeated on Special Report with Bret Baier, with neither the eponymous anchor nor Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy pointing out that it was false.