Vice President Kamala Harris Says Reports About Her Headphones and Shopping for a Pot Are 'Ridiculous'

“Come on,” she says of the media scrutiny while she works on issues that are critical to her and President Joe Biden’s administration

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty

Vice President Kamala Harris is pushing back on some of the scrutiny she's faced in the press since taking office almost a year ago.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Harris said headlines like the ones about a purchase she made at cookware store during her trip to France last month were "ridiculous" and distracted from the substance of her diplomatic mission.

The vice president, 57, traveled to Paris in November to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron following a rough patch in U.S. relations with the country. During the four-day trip, Harris highlighted and discussed important issues on behalf of the Biden administration.

She also briefly stopped at E. Dehillerin, a cookware shop in Paris, where she told reporters she wanted to buy a pot. The vice president's purchases — and the prices she paid — were reported by some U.S. media outlets.

"Oh, how about, 'She's going to buy a pot on her way to the airport after a very significant and highly successful bilateral meeting in France on issues that are about national security, on issues that are about climate, on issues that are about what we are doing in terms of international norms and rules on everything from cyber to space,' " Harris told the Chronicle. "Come on."

On the same trip, there was also discussion in the media over Harris' pronunciation of the word "the" and whether she was trying to fit in with French speakers.

Back in the U.S., some online chatter last week focused on the vice president's use of wired rather than wireless headphones. "Really?" she said in response, according to the Chronicle. (For the record, she is wary of Bluetooth headphones for security reasons.)

Kamala Harris on The View
The View

But Harris is not dismissing media attention outright given the historic nature of her vice presidency as the first woman elected to the position and the complicated issues — like immigration and voting rights — President Joe Biden has put on her plate.

"There is nothing about this job that is supposed to be easy," Harris said. "If something is coming to me, it's because it needs to be addressed and because, by definition, it's not going to be easy. If it was easy, it would have been handled before it comes to me."

Meanwhile, the exit of high-profile aides — including senior advisor and chief spokesperson for the vice president, Symone Sanders — have complicated Harris' response to reports of alleged dysfunction inside her office.

According to the Chronicle, she "sidestepped" questions about staff departures during the interview.

President Joe Biden, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, after delivering remarks on the CDC’s updated guidance on mask wearing for vaccinated individuals Thursday, May 13, 2021, in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat lawmaker from Oakland and a friend of Harris, told the paper she doesn't believe other vice presidents would receive similar coverage.

"Quite frankly, the media around this takes away from how effective she is being as vice president," Lee said. "It shows you the scrutiny that they have her under, and it makes me concerned about all the other issues that the press is reporting on, the kind of reporting that I think takes away from really the focus on what she is doing as vice president for the country."

Others interviewed for the Harris profile said she's doing well in a job that is primarily about supporting the president and his or her agenda.

"There have been a lot of misconceptions about the vice presidency that have been propagated that have in a way hurt her and maybe even caused them to go in directions that were a mistake," vice presidential historian Joel Goldstein said.

Harris' goals for a second year as vice president include traveling more frequently across the country to promote the administration's priorities like the social spending bill the House approved but that's now before the U.S. Senate.

"I have always felt that my responsibility as an elected leader is to go to the people," Harris said, "especially when their needs must be addressed and they must know that they are being seen and being heard."

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