The spread of misinformation is rampant in the Internet age. This includes information about politicians - and is evident in a Twitter thread involving Sen. Kamala Harris, the presidential candidate seeing a surge in polling since she confronted Joe Biden on the debate stage last month.
Many Twitter users market themselves as de facto political pundits, often suggesting that because they believe an argument, are persuasive with their word choice, and append a link, that no one will read further into their claims and combat them. But this is also where the usefulness of Twitter comes in - someone did, and convincingly.
One thing to counter the notion that Kamala Harris is the villain of all villains (or as many leftists like to put it, simply a “cop”), is that the links used in the original thread were gathered from unabashedly biased sources, who often needed to roll back some of their claims and amend significant points of their arguments. These include notables The Huffington Post and The Intercept.
Among the original claims were that Harris supported policies that adversely affected immigrants and poor families of color, among other minority groups (links provided are articles cited by original Twitter user niktaylorde). These are policies regarding handling of undocumented juvenile felons and truancy, primarily.
For the story regarding ICE in San Francisco, the Huffington Post added a disclaimer to the subhead which states “After publication, Harris’ campaign spokesman told HuffPost the policy was a ‘mistake’ and that the senator ‘wouldn’t support something like it today.’”
Additionally, Kamala Harris is not responsible for the policy being enacted, as it was a reactionary policy by then-mayor Gavin Newsom in response to a high profile murder involving an undocumented minor - a response which Harris defended, intending to ensure that San Francisco keep its sanctuary status following both the controversial murder and a potential federal court challenge.
The policy was enacted to ensure juveniles faced accountability for crimes classified as felonies, but a few cases showed that officers reported some juveniles for more minor crimes. Newsom and Harris have since apologized, arguing the policy could have been applied more fairly.
Prior to and following this circumstance, Harris as district attorney - and then as attorney general, United States Senator, and presidential candidate - showed her commitment to immigration protections.
A counter to that first point is this: although her support of this policy adversely affected immigrants, Harris has shown that her positions on immigration thereafter are better indicators of her reliability - and that her apologies are backed by her actions.
Next, her policies on truancy were argued to adversely affect poor families of color. While that may have been an unintended consequence, it was argued from the beginning that the policy was intended to be a preventative measure against potential dropouts becoming involved in criminal and gang activity. This was in reaction to research that suggested increased disposition of dropouts to such activity, and truancy was a large contributor to teens dropping out of school.
While it is no secret that criminals often commit crimes out of desperation and are of racial and economic minority status (and that truancy is a more complicated issue when it comes to youth affected by poverty, unstable families and chronic illness), the policy was not intended to punish parents outright for their children’s attendance issues. Programs for mentoring, tutoring and counseling (such as Big Brothers Big Sisters) were offered and notices were issued, with misdemeanor charges as a last resort. All of this is reflected in the article provided in the initial tweet.
A counter to the truancy point is this: a policy created with preventative measures in mind and retaliatory action as a last resort, albeit with unintended consequences, does not suggest failure of, but an opportunity to build upon, that policy.
More in-depth analysis of the claims made in twitter threads intending to “spill the tea” with misleading articles serving as “receipts” suggests that intentional misleading of the public is a very real threat. Fake news does exist, and I am not claiming this to delegitimize quality journalism. Misrepresentation of issues and of candidates happens often. Don’t fall into the trap of self-avowed political experts and always look for nuance in the political records of even your favorite politicians.