The White House on Tuesday said it did not select the children, reportedly child actors, who appeared in a YouTube video with Vice President Harris.
YouTube confirmed that it had selected the children in the video and reached out to various sources, including casting websites, to find them.
The video led to mockery of Harris by some Republicans, who have taken shots at the White House for staging the event.
“Wow. Even for politics, this is cynical. Quite literally … fake news,” Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOcasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE (R-Texas) tweeted.
The nearly 10-minute YouTube video, titled "Vice President Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisDemocrats' reconciliation bill breaks Biden's middle class tax pledge We have a presidential leadership crisis — and it's only going to get worse Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE and an Astronaut? What A Day! | Get Curious with Vice President Harris," shows five children traveling from around the country to the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., to learn about NASA and the space program.
During the video, the children meet with Harris, the head of the Space Council, outside her residence near the Naval Observatory. The visit took place in August, and the video was posted by NASA on Thursday for World Space Week.
Published reports after the video came out revealed that at least one of the five children with Harris had auditioned for the role. Two of the other children are reportedly working actors.
The vice president’s office did not select the kids who participated in the YouTube Originals special, a White House official told The Hill on Tuesday.
In a statement to The Hill, a YouTube spokesperson said: “The casting process for this show was no different from typical unscripted kids shows across other networks and streaming platforms. YouTube selected the kids that were featured. We reached out via not for profit organizations, social media and traditional casting websites, looking for kids who were interested in contributing positively to their communities."
“As with casting, the compensation was handled the same way it is for all of our other YouTube Originals shows,” the spokesperson added, confirming that there was compensation involved.
The spokesperson said the company noticed growing commentary and questions about the video in the last 24 hours, adding that YouTube is proud of the video.
The video does not identify the kids with Harris other than by their first names. It introduces them as Trevor from Monterey, Calif.; Emily from Westwood, N.J.; Derrick from St Louis, Mo.; Zhoriel from Lafayette, La.; and Sydney from Iowa City, Iowa.
One of the children, Trevor Bernardino from Monterey, Calif., told local news outlet KSBW TV that he auditioned for his role in the video, which involved sending in a video of him talking about his passions and questions he would ask a world leader. He then said his interviewing skills were tested before his agent called him to say he got the role.
Bernardino's father told the Washington Examiner on Monday that all five children were actors.
Several of the children appear to be listed as actors.
Trevor has an Instagram page that says he’s an actor, as first reported by Yahoo.
Zhoriel is a kid reporter for Scholastic Kids Press and interviewed former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaYouTube confirms it picked kids featured in Harris video Photos of the Week: Congressional Baseball Game, ashen trees and a beach horse The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE in March.
--Updated at 2:48 p.m.