CBS News' Norah O'Donnell is taking flak from some critics for one central question in her interview with vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris. The interview was featured on 60 Minutes on Sunday night, and in it, O'Donnell asked Harris if she has "a socialist perspective." Harris laughed at the question, which critics say was missing the entire point.
O'Donnell said that Harris is "Considered the most liberal United States senator" — which is debatable, as Harris noted that the title came from Vice President Mike Pence, likely as a scare tactic to stir up voters. O'Donnell claimed it came from a nonpartisan group called GovTrack, though that still raises the question of why senators like Bernie Sanders were passed over. Regardless, O'Donnell noted that Harris has supported the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and the legalization of marijuana on the federal level.
Kamala Harris asked by 60 Minutes if her positions are socialist/progressive and her response is an awkward, nervous laugh...pic.twitter.com/ZcxYGEDf5Y— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) October 26, 2020
"Joe Biden doesn't support those things, so are you going to bring the policies, those progressive policies that you supported as senator, into a Biden administration?" she asked.
"What I will do, and this is what Joe wants me to do, I will always share with him my lived experience as it relates to any issue that we confront," Harris countered. "I promised Joe that I will give him that perspective and always be honest with him."
"And is that a socialist or progressive perspective?" O'Donnell asked. At that point, Harris laughed uproariously, returning instead to her point about identity politics. She said: "No, it is the perspective of a woman who grew up a black child in America, who was also a prosecutor, who also has a mother who arrived here at the age of 19 from India, who also likes hip hop."
Arguments that Harris is a "socialist" in some meaningful way have frustrated people at both ends of the political spectrum, as the Trump campaign has tried to use the label to rile up conservative voters for whom "socialism" has a negative connotation. on the other hand, Democrats and left-leaning voters feel that Harris and Biden are not "socialist" enough compared to candidates like Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
All in all, viewers questioned what O'Donnell was trying to accomplish with this socialism question and why she interrupted Harris's point to ask it. Here is a look at how Twitter came down on O'Donnell.
This interviewer’s question is the equivalent of people saying ‘ I don’t see color.’ As a person of color you have to laugh it off & help others understand that OUR lived experiences being a person of color is what U need to see, hear & understand if U really want to be an ally! https://t.co/8cggfhwHfU— Karamo (@Karamo) October 27, 2020
Many viewers thought that O'Donnell was trying to dodge a discussion about race and cultural background in order to stay on the hot-button topic of "socialism." They sympathized with Harris for her apparently nervous reaction to that question.prevnext
I was also struck by how often her questions to Biden and Harris started with “ Trump says blah blah blah about you. Is it true?” This was an excellent observation on your point.— Angela Hay (@AngelaHay16) October 27, 2020
The better way to have phrased the question would be to say 'Republicans at their convention and to this day still say . . .'.— Bob Sacamano (@bob_saccamanno) October 26, 2020
Many also criticized O'Donnell for asking questions through the lense of Republican talking points, here and elsewhere throughout the interview. They noted that President Donald Trump has frequently been caught lying outright over the last four years, so treating his claims about Harris or Biden with any legitimacy is misleading at best.prevnext
Not So Bad
Because the right lumps that with communism. Its just assumed that promoting social programs will lead to Castro's Cuba.— Obi Dox Kenobi (@obibluraven) October 26, 2020
Some criticized both O'Donnell and Harris for treating the idea of socialism as "laughable." Many pointed out the government social programs that have helped the U.S. over the last century, and those that have flourished in other parts of the world.prevnext
2/ Secondly, if Harris really is “the most liberal member of the Senate,” that’s a reflection of how wildly out of touch the Senate is with the wider Democratic electorate.
I enthusiastically voted for Biden/Harris but neither represent my values or policy preferences.— Brianna Wu (@BriannaWu) October 26, 2020
Similarly, politically engaged Americans who do support social programs and progressive policies said that O'Donnell is far behind the times with this question, and that it threatens to cloud her coverage and understanding of the election.prevnext
Basically, she was against Medicare4All when she was running for pres. when progressive candidates were leading she switched to supporting it, now she’s w/ Biden she laughs it off.. all this in less than a year. Absolute trash of a person. https://t.co/MdqJUCGR1i— Paulo (@StarForgedApe) October 27, 2020
Some argued that O'Donnell's question would have been better if it had targeted Harris' fraught history with progressive policies. They worried about how often Harris' position has changed in a short amount of time, not the most extreme position she has landed on in that time.prevnext
Out of Her Element
Exactly!!!!! Lol 😆 Norah is basic and Kamala isn't. It was a moment of realization that Norah is out of her element.— 𝗗𝗼𝗻'𝘁 𝗕𝗼𝗼,𝗩𝗼𝘁𝗲! 🇺🇲 🌊 (@mariehc22) October 26, 2020
Many sympathized with Harris' laugh based on the awkward turn in O'Donnell's questioning. They thought that O'Donnell seemed too eager to stay on a subject that they felt had been covered adequately.prevnext
Finally, even assuming O'Donnell was intent on staying on the subject of socialism, some argued that her maneuvering of the conversation in this case crossed a line into being offensive.prev