Last week, the Washington Post excised a segment from one of its profiles of Vice President Kamala Harris originally published 18 months ago. Reason described the deletion as an attempt to “memory-hole Kamala Harris’s bad joke about inmates begging for food and water.”
The original article, published July 23, 2019 — during then-Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-CA) presidential campaign — opened with the following anecdote, in which Harris likened political campaigning to imprisonment:
It was the Fourth of July, Independence Day, and Kamala Harris was explaining to her sister, Maya, that campaigns are like prisons.
She’d been recounting how in the days before the Democratic debate in Miami life had actually slowed down to a manageable pace. Kamala, Maya and the rest of the team had spent three days prepping for that contest in a beach-facing hotel suite, where they closed the curtains to blot out the fun. But for all the hours of studying policy and practicing the zingers that would supercharge her candidacy, the trip allowed for a break in an otherwise all-encompassing schedule.
“I actually got sleep,” Kamala said, sitting in a Hilton conference room, beside her sister, and smiling as she recalled walks on the beach with her husband and that one morning SoulCycle class she was able to take.
“That kind of stuff,” Kamala said between sips of iced tea, “which was about bringing a little normal to the days, that was a treat for me.”
“I mean, in some ways it was a treat,” Maya said. “But not really.”
“It’s a treat that a prisoner gets when they ask for, ‘A morsel of food please,’” Kamala said shoving her hands forward as if clutching a metal plate, her voice now trembling like an old British man locked in a Dickensian jail cell. “‘And water! I just want wahtahhh….’ Your standards really go out the f—ing window.”
Kamala burst into laughter.
The Washington Post removed the entire anecdote in an edited version of its Harris profile published last week. Reason described the original profile’s introduction as “a memorable anecdote in which Harris bizarrely compared the rigors of the campaign trail to…life behind bars. And then proceeded to laugh—at the idea of an inmate begging for a sip of water.”
Reason described the deleted anecdote as revelatory of Harris’s baseness: “The Post profile provided a mask-slipping moment that seemed to perfectly capture a warped sense of justice and lack of basic human dignity—all in just a few hundred words.”
The Washington Post's 2019 profile of Kamala Harris and her sister Maya contained an incredibly cringe-worthy scene in which Harris seemed to mock inmates and compared the difficulties of campaigning to life in prison.
It was awful.
And now it's gone.https://t.co/F8LioFu3WM
— Eric Boehm (@EricBoehm87) January 22, 2021
“We repurposed and updated some of our strong biographical pieces about both political figures,” wrote the Washington Post to Reason via email. “The profile of Maya Harris was updated with new reporting, as noted online, using the existing URL. The original story remains available in print.”
The Washington Post did not provide Reason with other examples of edited profiles of political figures. On Friday, the Washington Post‘s restored a link to the original profile of Kamala Harris alongside its updated edit of the 18-month-old article.
The Washington Post updated its slogan to “Democracy Dies in Darkness” shortly after former President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. The news media outlet, owned by Jeff Bezos, markets itself as a politically objective and nonpartisan operation.