Right-wing media lash out at Sen. Kamala Harris after she was repeatedly interrupted by GOP men while questioning Jeff Sessions

Right-wing media lash out at Sen. Kamala Harris after she was repeatedly interrupted by GOP men while questioning Jeff Sessions

››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. & DINA RADTKE

Conservative media figures lashed out at Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) after she was interrupted and chastised by her Republican male colleagues during her questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, claiming she was interrupting Sessions and calling her “hysterical,” “a total fraud,” and rude. Women in mainstream media responded, pointing out the clear sexism in both the attacks on Harris and the double standard she was held to.


Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Kamala Harris was repeatedly interrupted by Republican senators during a Senate hearing

CNN: “For the second time in a week, Sen. Kamala Harris was cut off by her Republican colleagues while posing questions at a Senate intelligence committee hearing.” CNN reported that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was repeatedly interrupted by Republican male senators while questioning Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his June 13 hearing in front of the Senate intelligence committee. Harris was asking Sessions “about his refusal to answer questions Tuesday concerning conversations he may have had with President Donald Trump” when she was cut off in turn by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). CNN added that “the exchange was an almost exact repeat of last week” when McCain and Burr both interrupted Harris during her questioning of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

For the second time in a week, Sen. Kamala Harris was cut off by her Republican colleagues while posing questions at a Senate intelligence committee hearing -- drawing the spotlight to the potential 2020 contender.

While asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions about his refusal to answer questions Tuesday concerning conversations he may have had with President Donald Trump, the California Democrat was interrupted by Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Senate intelligence chairman Richard Burr then stepped in and said: "Senators, we'll allow the chair to control the hearing. Sen. Harris, let him answer the question."

The exchange was an almost exact repeat of last week, when McCain cut in on her intense questioning of Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, and Burr told her to stop and let Rosenstein answer. [CNN, 6/13/17]

Right-wing media figures attacked Sen. Kamala Harris, calling her “hysterical,” “a total fraud,” and rude

CNN’s Jason Miller: Kamala Harris “was hysterical.” CNN contributor and former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller called Harris “hysterical” during her interaction with Sessions, saying that his own perspective was “objective.” Miller claimed that “it didn't seem like there was any effort to try to get to a real question or get to the bottom of it. She was purely out there to shout down” Sessions. From the June 13 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360:

KIRSTEN POWERS: Can I just go back to something that Jason [Miller] said? How was Senator Harris "hysterical?" I don't really understand that. I mean, she was asking some tough questions --

JASON MILLER: I believe this is the second hearing in a row with completely partisan screed.

POWERS: But, how is that hysterical?

MILLER: It was. From my perspective, my, I would say, objective perspective, I mean it was -- it didn't seem like there was any effort to try to get to a real question or get to the bottom of it. She was purely out there to shout down --

POWERS: I think she asked a lot of questions, actually. She was dogged, there's no question, but I wouldn't say she was any more dogged than Ron Wyden was, would you? Would you say that?

MILLER: Look, I have my opinion on that. I think she was hysterical. I don't think that Sen. Wyden was really trying to get to the bottom of answers either. I think he was trying to drive a partisan --

POWERS: But he wasn't hysterical and she was. OK, I just wanted to clear that up. Got it.

MILLER: No, because she was trying to shout down Attorney General Sessions and I thought it was way out of bounds. This is the second hearing in a row --

POWERS: She didn't shout, actually, but even if she did, I'm just saying, they both were asking a lot of tough questions and I think calling her hysterical is probably a little gendered thing to say.

JEFFREY LORD: Hysteria is a neutral quality.

POWERS: What's that?

LORD: Hysteria is a neutral quality.

POWERS: And yet, it's just women that usually are called hysterical. But, I just think that she was asking --

GLORIA BORGER: You're being hysterical.

POWERS: Yes, I'm hysterical now, for example. But, no, but I think she was asking a lot of questions and he wasn't being very forthcoming and I think there was a lot of frustration on the part of a lot of the senators there and that wasn't all Democrats who were frustrated. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 6/13/17]

Radio host Mark Levin: Harris is a “know-nothing, pathetic, left-wing kook from California.” Mark Levin, radio host and editor-in-chief of Conservative Review, railed against Harris after the Senate intelligence committee’s June 6 questioning of a panel that included Rosenstein and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. According to a post from that same day on Conservative Review’s Medium page, Levin “opened the second hour of his show Tuesday night discussing California’s ‘pathetic’ Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris”:

Conservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin opened the second hour of his show Tuesday night discussing California’s “pathetic” Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris. Levin took particular issue with the “disrespect” shown by Harris in a hearing with DHS secretary, and decorated veteran, Gen. John Kelly.

Levin described Harris as a “know-nothing, pathetic, left-wing kook from California who they’re now promoting as another presidential candidate.”

“So you have to be a street disorganizer. Is that where we’re going now in this country?” Levin asked. “She is a disgrace. She is pathetic.” [Medium, 6/6/17]

Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

NRATV’s Cameron Gray:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

RedState’s Caleb Howe:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

Radio host Laura Ingraham:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

Wash. Examiner’s Tim Carney:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

Wash. Examiner’s Alex Pappas:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

RedState’s Kimberly Ross:

[Twitter, 6/13/17]

Fox’s Greg Gutfeld: “Kamala Harris didn’t want [Sessions] to answer the questions.” Fox host Greg Gutfeld criticized Harris’ approach to questioning Sessions claiming that she “didn’t want him to answer the questions,” and calling her strategy “hackneyed.” From the June 13 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

JUAN WILLIAMS (CO-HOST): So, what happened today is that you hear the attorney general say, no there is nothing secret here, I don’t have any secrets. I don't know what Comey is talking about, basically, he said. But then he goes on and refuses to discuss the conversations he has had with the president. So you get people, he says to Kamala Harris, “Slow down, slow down. You are making me nervous. I don’t want to speak so quickly. I can't respond to these questions so quickly.” You get Senator Ron Wyden . You get Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM). All of them saying, “Gee, you’re stonewalling.” This is what happened with Dan Coates, this is what happened with Mike Rogers -- DNI, the director of national intelligence [and the] director of national security. You guys don't want to talk about what you’re saying --

GREG GUTFELD (CO-HOST): Kamala Harris didn't want him to answer the question. She had this great strategy where she would ask a question then cut him off at the point where it sounds like he’s saying something else. It's very clever, but after a while, you realize how hackneyed it was. And as for Wyden, I mean Sessions was very generous to Wyden because he handed his ass to him. [Fox News, The Five, 6/13/17]

Media call out the interruptions and the subsequent attacks against Harris as “sexism”

CNN’s Tanzina Vega:

  

[Twitter, 6/13/176/13/17]

CNN’s Kirsten Powers calls out sexism in commentary about Kamala Harris: “It’s just women that usually are called hysterical.” During the June 13 segment of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 in which Jason Miller called Harris “hysterical,” CNN’s Kirsten Powers called out the smear as “gendered.” Powers pointed out that “calling her hysterical is probably a little gendered thing to say” and that “it's just women that usually are called hysterical.” From the June 13 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360:

KIRSTEN POWERS: Can I just go back to something that Jason [Miller] said? How was Senator

Harris "hysterical?" I don't really understand that. I mean, she was asking some tough questions --

JASON MILLER: I believe this is the second hearing in a row with completely partisan screed.

POWERS: But, how is that hysterical?

MILLER: It was. From my perspective, my, I would say, objective perspective, I mean it was -- it didn't seem like there was any effort to try to get to a real question or get to the bottom of it. She was purely out there to shout down --

POWERS: I think she asked a lot of questions, actually. She was dogged, there's no question, but I wouldn't say she was any more dogged than Ron Wyden was, would you? Would you say that?

MILLER: Look, I have my opinion on that. I think she was hysterical. I don't think that Sen. Wyden was really trying to get to the bottom of answers either. I think he was trying to drive a partisan --

POWERS: But he wasn't hysterical and she was. OK, I just wanted to clear that up. Got it.

MILLER: No, because she was trying to shout down Attorney General Sessions and I thought it was way out of bounds. This is the second hearing in a row --

POWERS: She didn't shout, actually, but even if she did, I'm just saying, they both were asking a lot of tough questions and I think calling her hysterical is probably a little gendered thing to say.

JEFFREY LORD: Hysteria is a neutral quality.

POWERS: What's that?

LORD: Hysteria is a neutral quality.

POWERS: And yet, it's just women that usually are called hysterical. But, I just think that she was asking --

GLORIA BORGER: You're being hysterical.

POWERS: Yes, I'm hysterical now, for example. But, no, but I think she was asking a lot of questions and he wasn't being very forthcoming and I think there was a lot of frustration on the part of a lot of the senators there and that wasn't all Democrats who were frustrated. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 6/13/17]

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski: It's "pathetic" that Harris was shut down by "a lot of rude, white, older men." MSNBC co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough called out the double standards of Republican senators and right-wing media in their attacks on Harris. Scarborough noted that Harris was “once again called out by men on the committee because they thought that she was too assertive,” which he contrasted to their treatment of Sen. Ron Wyden. Brzezisnki pointed out that there are “differences between what is expected and what is allowed between men and women even on the national stage” and that Harris was “told that she’s rude by a lot of rude, white, older men.” From the June 14 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): The junior senator from California, Senator Harris, once again called out by men on the committee because they thought that she was too assertive. Last night on a network she was called hysterical, when, of course, Ron Wyden was very aggressive. Nobody called him hysterical or condemned him.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI (CO-HOST): Jeff Sessions was quite colorful.

SCARBOROUGH: Sessions was colorful and indignant and -- "How dare you, sir?" I mean, “Beauregard does not answer questions like that.” And nobody called him hysterical. But they called Kamala Harris hysterical for the second week in a row.

BRZEZINSKI: This is a secondary story, given the seriousness of the nature of the questions being asked, but it’s an important story. The differences between what is expected and what is allowed between men and women, even on the national stage when the cameras are on them and there should be at least an attempt at equality, is pathetic. Kamala Harris will be our guest this morning, and I can't wait to talk to her about that, and also about the questions that she’s trying to ask in the middle of being told that she’s rude by a lot of rude, white, older men. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 6/14/17]

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota: There is an “overlay of sexism at work.” On CNN’s New Day, a panel led by co-host Alisyn Camerota denounced the attacks on Harris as “sexism.” Camerota noted that “there [was] this, now, overlay of sexism, some saw.” CNN contributor Jeffrey Toobin noted that Harris was also criticized during the previous hearing and commented, “I think it's sexism. I think it's like they're uncomfortable with women asking hard questions.” CNN’s David Gregory agreed, pointing out that “nobody interrupt[ed] Sen. Ron Wyden” and calling the attacks “old-fashioned sexist thinking.” From the June 14 edition of New Day:

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): All right. Jeffrey, let's talk about Kamala Harris since she’s come up, her name has come up -- and this was one of the feistier --

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Should I interrupt you the way all the men interrupted her?

CAMEROTA: No. I appreciate you saying that because there is --

CHRIS CILLIZZA: Hey, Cuomo interrupted me.

CAMEROTA: That's true. He's an equal opportunity interrupter. But there is this, now, overlay of sexism at work, some saw. So let's listen to this and see what everybody thinks.

[...]

CAMEROTA: OK, so they were arguing that he should be able to answer the question. Fair. But she should be able to ask the question.

TOOBIN: Well, and also, remember, they are dealing with very tight time deadlines. They only had five minutes to ask questions. The witnesses, especially an experienced congressional veteran like Sessions, knows you can run out the clock if you give long answers and pause, and he's kind of a slow-talking guy. So, Kamala Harris -- former prosecutor, district attorney in San Francisco, attorney general of California -- she was pressing him. But John McCain, you noticed he wasn't even the chairman there, but he jumped in to come to Sessions' aid. And it was the second time. It also happened during the Comey testimony when Kamala Harris was told, "Be a good girl. Don't ask such hard questions."

CAMEROTA: So what is that?

TOOBIN: I think it's sexism. I think it's like they're uncomfortable with women asking hard questions.

DAVID GREGORY: Can I just say I know a little something about this from my wife who is a, as you all know, a top trial lawyer, and who faces this in court all the time. When a woman is asking strong questions and wants an answer, there is a different treatment on the part of witnesses. It can be the judge. It's sexism. This old-fashioned sexist thinking and action when nobody interrupts Ron Wyden to say, "Hey take it easy there, Senator, and just let him answer."

CAMEROTA: Right. They had a similarly feisty exchange. [CNN, New Day, 6/14/17]

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