Kamala Harris sits in front of a window in the White House and appears to cringe.

What Is Politico Doing With This Weird Take on Kamala Harris’ Bluetooth Security Concerns?

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This week, Politico continued its trend of bizarre coverage of Vice President Kamala Harris with a lead story in its “West Wing Playbook” newsletter dedicated to the VP’s aversion to using Bluetooth headphones.

“Kamala Harris is Bluetooth-phobic,” reads the headline. The big scoop here, which was verified by a whole three former campaign aides, is that Harris thinks Bluetooth is a potential security risk. The piece is clearly supposed to be lighthearted, as you can tell from the flat jokes sprinkled throughout, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a weird thing to write, especially when taken within the context of the sort of consistent coverage Harris has received.

Politico (and other outlets, but Politico has been leading the pack) have been speculating ad nauseam about Harris’ chances of being kept on as Biden’s running mate in 2024, playing up a nonexistent rivalry between her and Pete Buttigieg that seems to still be rooted in an exchange from the 2019 primary race. Outlets have claimed that a recent “exodus” of her staff (which involves four people leaving, not exactly a huge shakeup) is reason to question her “leadership style.”

The criticism is constant, which is a bit weird considering Harris has spent most of her vice presidency so far working behind the scenes, out of the public spotlight. Just yesterday—before Politico’s newsletter was sent out to subscribers—Pajiba’s Dustin Rowles summed it up well:

But good lord, the press loves to attack her, and when the press can’t find anything in her public actions to criticize, they’ll manufacture some drama to capitalize on the public’s apparent fascination with Harris’ lack of popularity. As both the first woman and the first woman of color elected to the White House, the scrutiny against her is outsized, and after four years in which Donald Trump gave the press a big scandal to write about on a near-daily basis, it feels sometimes as though news outlets are trying to manufacture drama and find a villain for their narratives. Who better than a Black woman?

So when Politico dedicates a lead story to nitpicking something as frivolous as Harris’ choice of headphones, it’s irritating. And while the story isn’t overtly negative or critical, it does have a vaguely mocking tone, calling Harris’ prudence “anxieties” and claiming some (presumably of the three) former staffers think “it’s a bit paranoid” and casting her somewhere between a conspiracy theorist and a laughable Luddite.

Nowhere in the piece does the writer seem to give any credence whatsoever to the idea that avoiding Bluetooth might actually be a good idea for someone with Harris’ security needs. Are we all just pretending the 2016 election, with all its questions over cyber security and foreign interference, never even happened?

This is especially weird because (female) politicians are usually attacked when they aren’t vigilant enough about cyber and technology security. “But her headphones,” I guess.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.