White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday didn’t hesitate to say “yes” when asked whether Vice President Kamala Harris was receiving more criticism because she is the first woman and woman of color to hold the office.
“I think there’s no question that the type of attacks — the attacks on her that certainly, being the first she is many times over, is part of that,” Psaki said in an interview with POLITICO’s senior editor for standards and ethics, Anita Kumar, as part of its inaugural Women Rule Exchange.
Harris has received unflattering coverage in recent months and weeks, with a CNN story over the weekend reporting that the vice president is “struggling with a rocky relationship with some parts of the White House,” and that there’s “entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus” in her office. There was negative press during her third foreign trip, to Paris, with a Los Angeles Times column over the weekend calling her “the incredible disappearing vice president” — criticizing her absence from Washington as Congress passed the administration’s infrastructure bill.
Psaki jumped to Harris’ defense on Twitter on Sunday, posting that the vice president is a “vital partner” to President Joe Biden, who has taken on “important challenges facing the country,” from voting rights to the crisis at the border.
“What I would note, though, and one of the things I really admire about the vice president: She is the first African American woman, woman of color, Indian American woman to serve in this job. Woman. I mean, so many firsts, right? It’s a lot to have on your shoulders,” Psaki said on Wednesday. “She is somebody who, at a much higher level than the rest of us, but who wants to be seen as the talented, experienced, you know, expert, substantive policy person, partner to the president, that she is. But I do think there have been some attacks that are beyond because of her identity.”