Pundits and media members debated tweets from several reporters covering a shopping trip Saturday by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTrump: McConnell must use debt limit to crush Biden agenda Building back a better vice presidency Stacey Abrams nominated to board of solar energy firm MORE (D-Calif.) while she campaigned in South Carolina.
Twitter users, including some conservative pundits, questioned why journalists appeared in video clips to be urging Harris to select a certain item of clothing during the outing.
Harris tried on a colored sequined jacket in the store and the Democratic presidential candidate later bought the garment, according to reporters traveling with her campaign.
We kind of forced @kamalaharris to try on this awesome oversized rainbow sequin jacket ... She snapped it up. @alivitali perfectly named it as “the Mardi Gras Jacket” #2020 #SouthCarolina #CampaignFashionReport pic.twitter.com/2G0NFRkKL6— Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) February 16, 2019
Update: she bought the jacket— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) February 16, 2019
Fox News political analyst Brit Hume called reporters' tweets about the shopping trip "embarrassing," while questioning why journalists were apparently helping the senator pick out clothes before writing "glowing tweets" about it.
"This is just embarrassing. So now journalists are going shopping with Harris, helping pick out clothes and then putting out glowing tweets about it," Hume wrote.
This is just embarrassing. So now journalists are going shopping with Harris, helping pick out clothes and then putting out glowing tweets about it. https://t.co/RX2IY0B8JL— Brit Hume (@brithume) February 16, 2019
Other media members, pundits and Twitter users piled on, questioning the reasons for covering the event and seemingly urging Harris to try on garments.
This is a CBS reporter noting, without evident disapproval, that a CNN colleague is helping dress a Democratic candidate she's supposed to be covering. https://t.co/qa7GgZbs1P— James Taranto (@jamestaranto) February 16, 2019
If this is what the 2020 campaign is going to be like, President TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE's complaints about the media could have even more staying power with his base than the last time around. https://t.co/3uHwlbdc1b— David Martosko (@dmartosko) February 16, 2019
I’m a fan of yours, but this isn’t good Maeve. It doesn’t strike me as sober, objective journalism.— Christopher J. Hale (@chrisjollyhale) February 16, 2019
“Democracy dies in darkness” or in this case a boutique store #Journalism— Adam Kleinfeld (@Ajkleinfeld) February 16, 2019
Caitlin Huey-Burns, a CBS News reporter covering Harris's campaign, responded to critics, noting that reporters asked the candidate policy questions at other stops during the day.
"Harris was on an a tour of small businesses, including this boutique, in Columbia that we were covering as part of several campaign stops," she tweeted in response to Hume.
"She also did two gaggles with reporters, where we asked her a variety of policy questions on immigration, the green new deal, and executive power."
Hi @brithume. Harris was on an a tour of small businesses, including this boutique, in Columbia that we were covering as part of several campaign stops.— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurns) February 16, 2019
These Harris stops have had a lot of levity (as you can tell from photos) but there’s also a strong component of community activism & female business owners overcoming hardship to succeed. #scprimary— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) February 16, 2019
Several journalists and media analysts defended the coverage Saturday, pointing out that the event was part of Harris's tour of small businesses in Columbia, S.C.
They also noted that candidates have at times in the past had more casual interactions with journalists who cover them on the campaign trail for lengthy periods of time.
"Nobody seemed to have a problem when the candidate was @ScottWalker and the activity was motorcycle riding. Or @MittRomney riding jet skis on vacation. Or skeet shooting with @LindseyGrahamSC. I’m all for female candidates expanding the list of campaign activities," wrote NBC News's Kasie Hunt.
Nobody seemed to have a problem when the candidate was @ScottWalker and the activity was motorcycle riding— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) February 16, 2019
Or @MittRomney riding jet skis on vacation
Or skeet shooting with @LindseyGrahamSC
I’m all for female candidates expanding the list of campaign activities https://t.co/KgIgxnNW5x
"Reminds me of the glowing tweets that I put out back in the day as Scott Walker hailed cheese popcorn & Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin Jan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote Pence calls for Roe v. Wade to be sent to 'ash heap of history' ahead of abortion ruling MORE praised grilled cheese sandwiches," added NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard.
Reminds me of the glowing tweets that I put out back in the day as Scott Walker hailed cheese popcorn & Mike Pence praised grilled cheese sandwiches (*candidates are humans*): https://t.co/69CYZtDMED + https://t.co/mB5YazLE9L— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) February 16, 2019
Hume maintained that the latest incident "wasn’t coverage, it was participation."
Talk about missing the point. Did journalists help Walker pick out his motorcycle, then gush about it on Twitter? Did they they help Romney on with his life jacket? That Kamala Harris shopping incident wasn’t coverage, it was participation. https://t.co/tjg7OqJ7uu— Brit Hume (@brithume) February 16, 2019
Harris is campaigning this weekend in South Carolina, home to the third contest of the 2020 Democratic primary and an increasingly important early voting state.
Her campaign stops Saturday came on the heels of several endorsements this week from Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Overturning Roe would be a disaster for young women of color CBC's pivotal role on infrastructure underscores caucus's growing stature MORE (D-Calif.) and Ted LieuTed W. LieuDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Hamlin opens up on playing anthrax-era Tom Brokaw MORE (D-Calif.), as well as California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), among others.