Monday, August 23, 2021

And sit up straight when I'm talking to you

If you wandered into the Fair 'n' Balanced homepage Monday afternoon from somewhere in the adult world, the presuppositions in the No. 4 story might have seemed a little unusual:

Former "View" co-host Meghan McCain scolded Vice President Kamala Harris Monday for laughing when asked about the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, comparing the "craven" veep to Joaquin Phoenix’s mentally troubled character in the 2019 film "Joker."

Harris initially laughed when asked about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the controversial evacuation process as Americans try to exit the country due to the Taliban’s swift takeover. Harris has a long history of laughing when confronted with tough questions and famously giggled on multiple occasions when she was asked about visiting the southern border

Long history, famously giggled -- but wait! There's more:

... Phoenix’s "Joker" also suffered from uncontrollable laughter, sometimes at inappropriate times. He was eventually driven insane and became a psychopathic murderer. McCain made the comparison after Harris burst into laughter when a reporter shouted a question seeking her response to reports of Americans being trapped in Afghanistan.

"Hold on, slow down everybody," Harris said while laughing. She eventually answered the question but critics slammed her for appearing to find humor in the questions.

If you're new here, let's flash back to March and the best-known case of Fox policing Harris's inability to sit up straight and act like a young lady. Here's the No. 2 story from March 22:

Vice President Kamala Harris laughed while responding to a question from a reporter who asked Monday if she would be visiting the border amid the growing migrant crisis.

While taking questions from reporters outside of Air Force One, Harris was asked if she had "plans to visit" the southern border as the immigration crisis continues to develop.

The vice president responded to the query with a "not today" before laughing. She continued on to say that she had visited "before" and that she probably would go back.

The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ question as to whether they thought Harris’ response was appropriate, given the situation at the border that the Biden administration refuses to call a "crisis."

Things got worse the next day, because backlash:

Vice President Kamala Harris is facing a backlash after laughing when a reporter asked if she planned to visit the southern border amid the migrant crisis.

"Kamala Harris laughs at a reporter who asked her if she has plans to visit the border. Don’t believe this administration when they say they are serious about solving this crisis," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

And by the time we got to reporting on the afternoon talk shows March 30, Fox was in full behavior-cop mode:

The Biden administration's border policies are creating a catastrophe for everyone, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich said Tuesday on "Outnumbered," in reaction to migrants receiving in-person schooling in San Diego while American students are continuing to learn from home. Pavlich blasted Vice President Kamala Harris for laughing off a question about the subject.

KATIE PAVLICH: "I don’t understand what she thinks is funny. American parents are getting screwed. Their kids are falling behind and the very people Democrats claim to be standing up for, minority students, aren’t getting an education and aren’t going to be able to compete with their peers in the United States. Not to mention across the world. And just on a basic staffer level, has nobody sat down with the vice president and said, you have to stop laughing when you’re asked serious questions. It makes you look out of touch, it makes you look incompetent. That’s a basic thing that they should’ve fixed by now.

Questions don't become "tough" or "serious" by themselves, of course. They become "tough" through being asked by Fox reporters. Here's a Peter Doocy example:

Doocy also asked about news that copies of Harris’ children’s book "Superheroes Are Everywhere," published in 2019, were given to migrant children arriving in the U.S.

Even Fox eventually had to admit that the "Superheroes" story was bogus:

At least one copy of Harris’ children’s book, "Superheroes Are Everywhere," was made available for migrant children arriving at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, a recently converted influx facility, along with basic hygiene supplies and clothing. The book was part of a citywide book and toy drive to support the migrant children staying there.  

... EDITOR'S NOTE: In a previous version of this story, it was implied there were multiple copies of Harris' book available for children in welcome packs. 

By July 3 (yeah, slow holiday weekend), her uppity impudent cackle had become the lead story:*

Jesse Watters said Friday on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ that Vice President Kamala Harris' signature 'cackle' is a "defense mechanism" when she is faced with a question she can't answer or doesn't want to respond to, adding that it often is employed to lighten the interview – which he said notably failed during a recent back-and-forth with NBC News anchor Lester Holt.

JESSE WATTERS: as someone who made his career doing man-on-the-street interviews, I feel like I am uniquely qualified to recognize when someone is uncomfortable in public -- and yes, this is a sign of discomfort when she's presented with the topic or question, when she's unsure or uncomfortable, she results to cackling.

In our industry, we refer to this as a defense mechanism. In layman's terms, it perhaps would be a glitch in the system, a tick, or a 'tell' in poker and she does it for several reasons: One, to soothe her anxiety. Two, to buy her time if she's unsure, she can use that time to formulate a response. Three, to kind of guide the vibe of the interview from a serious to a less serious one, and then finally, it is kind of a lame attempt to form a bond with the person asking her a tough question. 

Going back to last fall, one could point out that the laugh is often a response to a "stupid" question

Sen. Kamala Harris D-Calif., laughed when asked during an interview Sunday if she would advocate for a “socialist or progressive perspective” if elected.

CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell asked Harris the question during a "60 Minutes" interview with her and the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

... and even then can quickly spin off a second story:

Podcast host and author Ben Shapiro on Monday ripped Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., for laughing at an interviewer who asked if she had socialist views.

“Kamala Harris -- I would love to play poker with Kamala Harris because she has the most obvious tell in the history of politics which is if she is asked a question that she does not want to answer, she breaks into that insane Joker laugh and it is pretty wild,” the host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" told “Fox & Friends.”

Shapiro said that “there is nothing funny about that question” and the follow-up question about her being a “liberal senator.”

It's almost as if ... I don't know, there were some immutable demographic characteristics that make Kamala Harris's response to stupid questions especially terrifying at Fox News. What could those characteristics be?

* It's a bit odd to have the "Fox News Staff" byline, rather than a named staffer, atop the lead story, but Fox talk shows have a habit of producing MAJOR BREAKING NEWS like this.


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