A fake news story has resulted in the resignation of a tabloid reporter who claims she was “ordered to write” lies about Vice President Kamala Harris in a story about her role leading immigration efforts at the southern U.S. border. It was just the latest instance of the New York Post, a right-wing conservative media outlet, being attached to a news story accused of being anti-Black in order to advance the newspaper’s Republican-leaning agenda.
Longtime Post reporter Laura Italiano tweeted Tuesday that she was quitting following the controversy over her news story that incorrectly claimed without offering any proof that undocumented migrant minors arriving at the border were being greeted with copies of a children’s book written by Harris.
The article prompted widespread outrage among Republicans who claimed Harris was shamelessly promoting herself instead of focusing on the root causes of the immigration crisis, as President Joe Biden tapped her to do.
But, of course, the article was entirely incorrect — and still remains live online as of Wednesday morning.
Italiano falsely wrote in her story published Friday: “Vice President Kamala Harris hasn’t been to the border to address a crisis she was tasked to help fix — but a children’s book she wrote was waiting there in a facility for young migrants who are being welcomed into the country.”
Four days later, Italiano, who was with the Post since 1996, had a change of heart.
“Today I handed in my resignation to my editors at the New York Post,” Italiano tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “The Kamala Harris story — an incorrect story I was ordered to write and which I failed to push back hard enough against — was my breaking point.”
The only evidence that a copy of Harris’ book — “Superheroes Are Everywhere” — was at any immigration facility stems from a lone Reuters photo showing it on a bed at a shelter for migrants in California last week. That photo apparently served as the basis for Italiano’s initial claim that all the children at the facility were receiving Harris’ book. A subsequent editor’s note hidden at the bottom of the story stated without proof that “only one known copy of the book was given to a child.”
The latest incarnation of the story’s headline reads: “Kamala isn’t at the southern border — but at least one migrant kid got Veep’s book.” That followed an earlier version that said: “Kamala isn’t at the southern border — but migrant kids are getting Veep’s book.”
On Tuesday, the wording in the story was changed to say “migrant children have been given copies,” a claim that has still not been backed up with proof.
Other right-wing media organizations like Fox News ran with their own stories about the fake controversy, citing the Post’s original report.
A tweet from GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel that was posted Monday declared that “officials are handing out Kamala Harris’ book to migrants in facilities at the border” before asking: “Was Harris paid for these books? Is she profiting from Biden’s border crisis?”
That tweet remains live and without the Twitter fact-check that routinely accompanied Donald Trump‘s tweets before he was kicked off the social media platform.
The Post, of course, endorsed Trump for re-election, so having Harris in its crosshairs shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. After all, the tabloid has been accused of having an anti-Black agenda for decades.
It wasn’t that long ago when the Post was apologizing — while still defending — a racist cartoon suggesting a comparison of then-President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee.