After presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden announced he’d chosen Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to be his running mate Tuesday, the Trump campaign released a statement containing a false claim that Harris had called Biden “a racist.” Fox News host Neil Cavuto clarified to his viewers that that never happened.
In the statement, which cast Harris as having embraced “radical” left agendas, Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson began: “Not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received. Clearly, Phony Kamala will abandon her own morals, as well as try to bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat party.”
“As a former prosecutor, if anything, Kamala Harris was getting heat from many African Americans of the party and others because she was a little too tough on crime and that sort of thing,” Cavuto noted.
Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts agreed that the statement presented a contradiction, pointing to the criticism Harris drew from progressives during her presidential bid over her prosecutorial record as California’s attorney general.
Trump’s campaign released a statement claiming that Kamala called Biden “a racist.” Cavuto points out that didn’t happen, to which Roberts responds “whether she said the word racist or not, the intimation was there.”
(She literally said ‘I do not believe you are a racist’) pic.twitter.com/dIoM56It98
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) August 11, 2020
“She ran afoul of progressives, and yet the Trump campaign is portraying her as someone who is adherent to progressive ideology,” he said. “So they’re painting her as way left of what people in the Democratic Party have. But that’s the way that Trump is going to fight this campaign.”
Cavuto, who has on multiple occasions set off presidential tirades with his fact-checks of Trump’s claims, then made a “quick clarification” to the statement that Roberts had read aloud.
“The president seems to be saying that Kamala Harris had called Joe Biden a racist. She never did,” he said.
Roberts agreed, but then sought to blame the adviser, noting the claim didn’t come from Trump himself. He then defended the claim: “Whether or not she actually said the word ‘racist’ or not, I mean, the intimation was there.”
Harris did criticize Biden during a June 2019 Democratic presidential debate for his “very hurtful” comments about having worked with two segregationist senators and for his opposition to school busing in the 1970s.
However, she prefaced her comments by explicitly saying, “I do not believe you are a racist,” which neither Cavuto nor Roberts pointed out.
As noted by Media Matters, the claim went entirely unchecked by two journalists on another Fox News broadcast.