NBC News, October 2020
Media coverage of Sen. Kamala Harris’ vice presidential nomination disproportionately focused on her race and gender, according to a report published by Time’s Up Now, an organization founded in the wake of the #MeToo movement that aims to fight gender-based discrimination. A quarter of the analyzed coverage incorporated at least one racist or sexist stereotype — most of which derived from the repetition of President Donald Trump’s ad hominem attacks on Harris.
The report, released last week, compared media coverage of the announcement of Harris’ nomination this year and 2016 coverage of the announcements of the vice presidential nominations of then-Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
The racist and sexist “angry Black woman” trope was the most prevalent stereotype in “mainstream U.S. top-tier media coverage” of Harris, emerging in 13 percent of the analyzed coverage surrounding the August announcement that she would be Joe Biden’s running mate. Trump’s attacks on Harris’ character — as “nasty,” “mad,” and “mean” — largely fueled the prevalence of that trope, according to the report.
Some journalists also contributed to it — albeit less than Trump did overall — by characterizing Harris as “uncooperative” and “unlikeable,” the report noted. But most biased coverage resulted from mainstream news outlets perpetuating racist and sexist storylines: References to the “birtherism” conspiracy theory, for example, appeared in 10 percent of all coverage.