Right-wing media attack Vice President Kamala Harris over Nashville visit

Harris’ insatiable critics ignore the substance of her speech on gun violence, try to manufacture an optics scandal

Right-wing media are attacking Vice President Kamala Harris for showing her support for Democratic legislators who were expelled from the Tennessee state House, following protests over gun violence in the wake of the March 27 mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville.

In the telling of right-wing media outlets, many of which have celebrated the expulsion of the Democratic legislators, Harris’ visit and support for people who called for policy solutions to reduce gun violence somehow demonstrated an insensitivity and lack of concern for the shooting victims and their families.

In fact, Harris specifically addressed the victims of mass shootings and the effect that the threat of rampant gun violence is having on a generation of children.

“Let’s understand the underlying issue is about fighting for the safety of our children,” Harris said in her speech Friday at Fisk University, a historically Black college in Nashville. “It’s been years now where they are taught to read and write and hide in a closet and be quiet if there’s a mass shooter at their school, where our children, who have God’s capacity to learn and lead, who go to school in fear.”

Harris also used her speech to call for a number of specific and broadly popular policies advocated by the Biden administration that could begin to reduce gun violence, including background checks, red flag laws, and restrictions on the sale of assault-style weapons, while reiterating: “Let’s not fall for the false choice — either you’re in favor of the Second Amendment or you want reasonable gun safety laws.”

“We can and should do both,” the vice president said.

Right-wing commentators immediately pounced on Harris’ speech, seeming to manufacture a controversy out of thin air by attempting to pit the vice president against the victims and their families and telling their audiences that Harris simply visited Nashville as a political stunt to boost embattled Democratic lawmakers.

  • Right-wing commentator Matt Walsh: “She didn’t come to Nashville to attend any of the vigils for the children murdered by a trans terrorist. She didn’t come to meet with the families. Instead she’s coming for this. These people are truly just absolute scum. Hideously wicked human beings.” [Twitter, 4/7/23]

  • Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier: “Instead of meeting the families of the Covenant School victims… Kamala Harris is going to Nashville today to push for gun control and meet the insurrectionists who were expelled from the legislature. Total scumbag.” [Twitter, 4/7/23]

  • Former Trump campaign attorney and American Family Radio host Jenna Ellis: “They've dismissed the real victims of this tragedy almost as badly as they did East Palestine, OH.” [Twitter, 4/8/23]

  • Actor Rob Schneider: “Kamala Harris reveals herself… She visits when 3 Dem legislators are kicked out or censured by Tennessee legislature. But she doesn’t visit when 3 Nine Year Old Children are murdered.” [Twitter, 4/8/23]

  • Country singer and onetime Fox Nation host John Rich: “Hey @VP why didn't you make an effort to meet with the Christian families from Covenant school while you were in Music City? You were less than a 15 minute drive away from that location. Your word salad rings hollow.” [Twitter, 4/8/23]

Politico’s Playbook reported Sunday, “a White House aide tells Playbook that the families were invited, and that they ‘offered blessings’ but ultimately couldn’t make it.” Right-wing media coverage continued to criticize Harris for allegedly not honoring the victims or their families, with zero mention of this reported detail.

  • Fox News anchor Dana Perino: “Vice President Kamala Harris is catching some flak over her trip to Nashville Friday. She met with the two Democrats expelled by the Republican-controlled Tennessee House over a chaotic gun control protest that happened at the state’s capitol. The vice president did not meet with victims’ families or survivors of the Nashville Christian school shooting that sparked that protest.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 4/10/23]
Video file

Citation From the April 10, 2023, edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom

  • Fox Business correspondent Cheryl Casone claimed: “Well, as you heard, Harris speaking on the importance of life and liberty, but failing to mention the victims of the mass shooting that sparked the, quote, ‘Tennessee Three's’ demonstration.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 4/10/23]
  • Newsmax anchor Shaun Kraisman said, “National attention with President Joe Biden speaking with [expelled lawmakers] Jones and with Pearson, and then Vice President Kamala Harris meeting them, as well. But again, not the families of the victims.” Republican strategist Krysia Lenzo added: “What about the optics of Kamala Harris not visiting the school and the Tennessee Six, as I like to call them, the three children who were killed. Nothing has been said about that. She loves to make things about race relations and obscure the truth when it comes to what actually happened.” [Newsmax, The National Report, 4/10/23]

In fact, First Lady Jill Biden previously visited a memorial for the victims of the mass shooting, and President Joe Biden ordered that all flags on public buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims. But right-wing media will not allow any facts to get in the way of their narratives.

Conservative outlets have previously attacked Harris for having biracial heritage, not giving special treatment to political donors, buying cookware for herself with her own money, not having biological children, appearing in an educational video, and for supposedly having provoked Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.