The moment Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate came the right’s shitty, invented efforts to discredit her, drawing on an old and completely fabricated cliche that Harris may have fucked her way to the top. Now, women’s groups are allocating millions to clearing Harris’s name before right-wing goons transform a brief relationship Harris had nearly 30 years ago into the “but her emails” of 2020.
On August 12, 2020, the right-wing news outlet American Spectator published an opinion piece insinuating that Kamala Harris’s early career success was due to her brief relationship with former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. It was just one of nearly 11,000 news articles the Time’s Up organization flagged for sexist and racist content targeted at Harris in the two weeks following Biden’s announcement of his running mate, according to Axios. In those two weeks, the smear campaign against Harris’s moral character, not her policies, reached at least 21 million people. Many of whom seemed to buy-in.
For example, two days after the American Spector hit piece, an NBA photographer was fired after posting a meme to Facebook mocking the Biden/Harris campaign that read “Joe and the Hoe.” Professional misogynist and shit-stirrer Rush Limbaugh was quick to jump on the controversy, discussing the firing and calling Harris a “mattress” on his August 14 radio show. President Trump, who hates being left out of any woman-hating dog-whistle, joined in the assholery at an August 28 campaign rally, telling the crowd: “I want to see the first woman president also, but I don’t want to see a woman president get into that position the way she’d do it.”
In order to set the record straight among “Black and Latina women who don’t consistently vote but would likely support the Biden-Harris ticket if they did cast a ballot,” women-focused groups including PACRONYM, Black PAC, WOMEN VOTE! and Planned Parenthood Votes have earmarked $10 million for an ad campaign dedicated to clearing up misconceptions about Harris ahead of the election, Axios reports. The groups will be targeting around five million voters under 40 who are less likely to read political news in six states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia. These voters are more likely to believe lies because they’re less likely to see contradictory reports, Tara McGowan, founder and CEO of PACRONYM told Axios: “When [misinformation] reaches individuals in a vacuum and that’s all they’re getting, they’re more likely to believe it.”
Perhaps in the distant future, there will come a time when women’s organizations won’t be forced to foot the bill for clearing up lies about a woman candidate’s moral character, but the lessons of 2016 and the rampant misogyny constantly spewing from the White House in the years since sparks real concern that a mere $10 million might not be enough.