Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said she believes sexism has played a role in the amount and intensity of criticism directed at Vice President Harris, who is the first woman to hold the role.
“I do think that it has been easier and harsher from some in the right wing who have gone after her because she is the first woman, the first woman of color. I’m not suggesting anyone will acknowledge that publicly,” Psaki said during a Politico “Women Rule” event.
“One of the things I really admire about the vice president: She is the first African American, woman of color, Indian American woman to serve in this job — woman,” Psaki said. “It’s a lot to have on your shoulders.”
Harris “wants to be seen” as a policy person and adviser to the president, Psaki said.
While Psaki acknowledged the administration is facing challenges that have led to sinking approval ratings for President Biden and Harris, she added she thought “there have been some attacks that have been beyond because of her identity.”
Harris has been the subject of multiple reports in recent months that have detailed frustrations or dysfunction within her office. The most recent was a CNN report published Sunday that cast doubt on the vice president’s standing in the Biden administration and said there were rifts within the Biden-Harris operation.
The report prompted public pushback from West Wing officials, including Psaki, who told reporters on Monday that Harris is a trusted adviser to the president who is taking on challenging issues like migration and voting rights.
Coverage of Harris also was in the spotlight last week when Fox News, The New York Post and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were among the conservatives online who suggested she was attempting to use a French accent when she was putting emphasis on the word “the” during her remarks. The episode prompted mockery on “The Daily Show” and elsewhere.
The trip to Paris was Harris’s first to Europe as vice president and was generally viewed as a success after a fallout earlier this year over a submarine deal with Australia.