November 13, 2021

Today in traditional media nonsense, Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the word “the” to make a point, and it is NEWS.

No, I’m not kidding.

It is not a parody. Jennifer Jacobs is a senior White House reporter for Bloomberg News. She is tweeting about how the vice president of the United States pronounced one of the most common words in the English language.

It is true that some people, including Sean Hannity, did attack Harris for supposedly using a fake French accent on another stop of her trip to France. That was false—she said “THE plan,” for emphasis—and did not bear repeating and validating outside of right-wing circles. Jacobs might maybe possibly claim that what she’s doing here is showing that Harris employs that usage of “the” regularly. Instead, Jacobs elevated partisan attacks and rather than explicitly discrediting them, turned them into an inspection of Harris’ pronunciation more generally. It’s a kind of scrutiny that somehow keeps getting disproportionately applied to women and people of color. So mysterious.

And Jennifer Jacobs made herself absolutely a part of that pattern. She might not have come up with the line of attack, but she treated it as worthy of repetition and consideration.

What Harris was doing will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched NFL player intros. THE Ohio State University, anyone?

This is a fake French accent:

That is … not what Harris was doing, not even a little bit, not even at all. Using a long E for emphasis in “the” is both entirely normal and not what anyone would do to sound French, at least if they’d ever heard French spoken.

But by repeating the bad-faith attacks of people dedicated to tearing down a Democratic vice president—who is, very importantly, the first woman to be vice president and the first Black vice president and the first Asian vice president—Jacobs, a prominent reporter for an ostensibly neutral news organization, suggested that not only were the attacks legitimate news, but that Harris’ speech patterns did bear watching for any hints that there might be some kind of pattern. It’s all too telling about how the media operates.

Jacobs was rightly ratioed and roasted:

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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