How Vice President Kamala Harris’ appearance on a kids’ YouTube special backfired

It should have been the safest of political appearances — a group of kids gushing about their love of science and space exploration with Vice President Kamala Harris.

But for Harris, it became a controversy.

The children, it turned out, were paid actors. And the video, filmed on location at the White House and the vice president’s official residence at the Naval Observatory, was promoted on NASA’s YouTube Channel and Harris’ Twitter account last week without making that clear.

The fallout over the video, produced for YouTube’s original programming platform, is the second in recent weeks where a seemingly innocuous appearance by Harris has become modestly troublesome.


Late last month, Harris generated more serious consternation and criticism from pro-Israel Democrats and media for not pushing back when a student at a classroom encounter at George Mason University in Virginia accused Israel of “ethnic genocide.” Harris spent the next several days clarifying her longstanding support for Israel and reaching out to pro-Israel organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League.

Such stumbles have been featured extensively in conservative media, where Harris is a regular target. But they also reinforce concerns among Democrats that Harris has not yet found her political footing since taking office amid high expectations. The presumed front-runner to succeed President Biden on the Democratic ticket in 2024 or 2028, Harris recently enlisted two veteran Democrats to help stabilize her communications efforts.

Harris’ office and NASA would not discuss the decision-making process that led to her participation in the YouTube Original or the administration’s marketing of the special, which was produced by a Canada-based company called Sinking Ship Entertainment.

Harris’s office did not select the children who participated in the YouTube Originals special, a White House official said. A YouTube spokesperson said that “the casting process for this show was no different from typical unscripted kids’ shows across other networks and streaming platforms.”

The special debuted during World Space Week. It features NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough giving five children the clues for a scavenger hunt that takes them to the U.S. Naval Observatory, where they not-so casually run into Harris, who welcomes them onto the porch of the vice presidential residence.

While sitting in a white chair alongside the children, Harris reminisces about going to the lab with her scientist mother during her childhood and says she is excited to chair the National Space Council. She offers advice to the children about showing their true selves.

“Never let anybody tell you who you are,” she tells them. “You tell them who you are.”

Like many online productions, the special has the feel of something between a kids’-oriented news segment and a scripted show. The children, who introduce themselves with their hometowns, act surprised and excited as they meet the real-life astronaut and the vice president.

Earlier this week, one of the children who appeared in the video described in detail his audition process to KSBW TV in Salinas, which sparked mockery online and news coverage. Harris’ appearance drew especially sharp critiques in conservative news outlets. Fox News, in its coverage, has tried to draw a comparison to the criticism unleashed on former President Trump after his 2015 campaign launch in which he paid people to act like supporters.

Appearing as a guest on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show, commentator Candace Owens falsely told viewers that Harris paid children to appear in the special.

White House officials have a long history of appearing as themselves in scripted shows, often with children. First Lady Nancy Reagan promoted her anti-drug message on the popular 1980s sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” and then-President Obama participated in a televised sketch alongside comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

The difference this time was that the show’s format was ambiguous, and its presentation and promotion by Harris and NASA led commentators to believe it had been produced by the government.

Communications consultants said the vice president’s staff should have more thoroughly vetted the program and ensured it was clearly labeled as a reality show with paid actors when the U.S. government promoted it.

Ultimately, Harris’ staff let her down, they said.

“The vice president and the president can’t do their own vetting on things like this,” said Kevin Madden, who served in senior communications roles for Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

Madden added that Harris should not have participated in the program with paid actors, especially “in an era where there is a very high quotient of fake news and misinformation, you have to expect this kind of scrutiny.”

“The criticism [here] becomes warranted,” he said.

Turley: ‘The Question Here Is Did the White House Knowingly Create a Video to Violate Federal Law’?

Turley: ‘The Question Here Is Did the White House Knowingly Create a Video to Violate Federal Law’?

Kamala Harris is campaigning for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. (Photo credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Kamala Harris is campaigning for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. (Photo credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley questioned whether Vice President Kamala Harris deliberately tried to violate the law by creating a video played to black Virginia churchgoers, urging them to vote for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. 

“The Biden Administration has to enforce our tax laws, including rules governing 501(c)3 organizations, including churches,” Turley told Laura Ingraham on Monday’s “The Ingraham Angle.” “Now part of those regulations include what’s called the Johnson Amendment, and that prohibits direct politicking in churches in order to be tax-exempt.” 

“If the White House participated in this plan to have direct politicking, they would have assisted in that violation. Now that puts them in a rather awkward position since their administration has to enforce this very rule.”


Kamala Harris: “When I was growing up, we sang in the choir at Oakland’s 23rd Ave. Church of God. We were taught that it was our sacred responsibility to raise our voice and lift up the voices of our community….Virginians, you have the opportunity now to raise your voice through your vote because it’s election time. I believe that my friend, Terry McAuliffe, is the leader Virginia needs at this moment.”

[Clip Ends]

Laura Ingraham: “Now that, of course, was Vice President Kamala Harris’ virtual address to black churches across the commonwealth of Virginia yesterday that was piped in.

“Now apart from her, well, professed religiosity, Kamala’s get out the vote sermon has a serious problem: it might be illegal. 

“Joining me now is Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law professor, Fox News contributor. Professor Turley, both parties have appeared in churches at campaign seasons, that has happened. But what happened here with Kamala Harris that might run afoul of the regs or the law?” 

Jonathan Turley: “Well the Biden Administration has to enforce our tax laws, including rules governing 501(c)3 organizations, including churches. 

“Now part of those regulations include what’s called the Johnson Amendment, and that prohibits direct politicking in churches in order to be tax-exempt. 

“So, if churches play this video, they would be in violation of federal law. If the White House participated in this plan to have direct politicking, they would have assisted in that violation. Now that puts them in a rather awkward position since their administration has to enforce this very rule. 

Ingraham: “Well, Merrick Garland is focusing on the Jan. 6 grandmas and grandpas to make sure they stay in whatever type of confinement they’re in. But she did give explicit instructions, professor, on how churchgoers could actually vote. Watch this. 


Harris: “Early voting has already started and this is the first year that you can vote on Sunday. So please, vote after today’s service, and if you cannot vote today, make a plan to go vote. Go to”

[Clip End]

Ingraham: “Now, Professor Turley, this is always called the souls to the polls. Pushing voters to a specific website? Now does that bring more problems to them if we had a Justice Department or an IRS prosecutorial arm that was actually going to do something?”

Turley: “Well, it’s an extraordinary video because the White House could always argue that ‘we just made the video; the violators are the churches who decided to play them.’ But that doesn’t quite work when the video is referencing churches and their services and saying go directly from church to vote.  

“So the question here is did the White House knowingly create a video to violate federal law? Now clearly, they’re not the ones that would lose their tax-exempt status; it’d be churches if this were ever fully enforced. But there’s a serious problem if you’re encouraging these violations. What’s interesting, Laura, is President Trump really did not like the Johnson Amendment, insisted that he was going to get rid of it. 

“And when he did, many Democrats, many legal experts cried foul, and they said this is destroying the separation of church and state, this is encouraging the violation of federal law. And yet, after this video played, there was nothing but crickets from many of those areas.”

Ingraham: “Well, I think they’re obviously very concerned about what’s happening in some of these polls and they’re pulling out all the stops: getting Obama to campaign there and others. Professor Turley, it’s great to see you, thank you.”

Megan Williams is a CNSNews intern and junior at Hillsdale College. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Public Address with a Journalism minor. She is the assistant opinions editor for the Hillsdale Collegian and enjoys covering local events, from concerts to conventions. Born and raised in Southern California, Megan is excited to experience D.C. and grow as a journalist with CNSNews.

White House labor task force meets Thursday to discuss key report that boosts unions

WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will convene a second meeting on Thursday of the White House labor task force, a group of cabinet secretaries and top aides that aims to boost union membership in the country, two officials with knowledge of the matter said.

The group will discuss recommendations for a report commissioned by President Joe Biden in April on ways existing policies can promote labor organizing in the federal government, new policies that are needed and associated regulatory challenges. The report is due in late October, a White House official and a senior administration official, who did not wish to be named said.

The meeting on Thursday will be attended by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, the White House official said.

Others including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will attend virtually.

“The group will discuss taskforce progress so far, including significant recommendations for executive actions in their upcoming report,” the White House official said. It will also discuss ways the administration can leverage the federal government’s authority as an employer to promote worker organizing.

In June, Harris held the first field meeting of the taskforce in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spoke to union organizers about their campaign to increase union membership and barriers to organizing.

Between 1979 and 2020, the percentage of American workers represented by a union dropped by 14.9 percentage points, according to estimates from the White House. As a result of that drop, American workers are losing out on $200 billion a year in wages and benefits they could have achieved under union contracts, the White House has said.

President Biden’s administration may be the most overtly pro-union since Harry Truman left the Oval Office nearly 70 years ago, labor leaders and outside analysts have said, citing actions that have put unions at the center of policy — viewing them as vehicles not only to rebuild middle-class jobs but also to address climate change and racial and gender inequity.

Earlier this year, the U.S. labor movement suffered a significant setback when an effort to organize warehouse workers at an Amazon facility in Alabama failed badly. In August, a U.S. labor board official recommended a rerun of the landmark union election. read more

The death of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who had close ties to Biden, and had been an influential outside voice in helping to shape his ambitious jobs and infrastructure proposals, has also posed a challenge to the American labor movement.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons, Chris Sanders and Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

McConnell Says ‘100%’ of His Focus Is on Blocking Biden Agenda

WASHINGTON—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans are united behind stopping President Biden’s agenda, putting a damper on already slim hopes for bipartisan cooperation in Congress ahead of more talks with the White House on a possible infrastructure deal.

“One hundred percent of my focus is standing up to this administration,” the Kentucky Republican said at a press conference in his home state Wednesday, in response to questions about infighting among House Republicans. “What we have in the United States Senate is total unity from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country,” he said, referring to the senators from Maine and Texas.

Instapundit » Blog Archive » GREAT MOMENTS IN AMNESIA: White House says it didn’t expect such ‘vehement opposition’ to Trump-appr…

Instapundit » Blog Archive » GREAT MOMENTS IN AMNESIA: White House says it didn’t expect such ‘vehement opposition’ to Trump-appr…

GREAT MOMENTS IN AMNESIA: White House says it didn’t expect such ‘vehement opposition’ to Trump-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

The White House said it was surprised by the strong opposition to COVID-19 vaccines approved under former President Donald Trump.

“We didn’t anticipate that when there was a vaccine approved under a Republican president, that the Republican president took, that there would be such hesitation, opposition, vehement opposition in some cases, from so many people of his own party in this country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. “We didn’t anticipate that.”


Biden: ‘I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump.’

—ABC News, September 16th, 2020.

Kamala Harris says she will be ‘first in line’ for a coronavirus vaccine if health experts approve it, but ‘if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, then I’m not taking it.’

Business Insider after the debate between Harris and Mike Pence, October 7th, 2020.

Here’s a montage of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Andrew Cuomo saying not so long ago that you shouldn’t trust the feds, the FDA, and the vaccine.

—Not the Bee, yesterday.

Also, note how Psaki (on the eve of 9/11) is portraying this as a red state/blue state issue, when it’s nowhere near clear-cut:

“They’re Experimenting On Us” — Why Black New Yorkers Don’t Trust The Vaccine.

Why Don’t They Believe Us?

And then there’s this guy, and the White House decision making that led to his video: Tax Dollars Smolder After White House’s Most Asinine Vaccine Push Yet.

Finally, why would anyone trust Psaki’s reaction, when it’s obvious what the Biden administration is doing is “stray voltage” to help shift the media narrative away from their Afghanistan debacle, border debacle, and inflationary debacle, and back to those icky Trump voters in flyover country.

Or as Jim Treacher wrote on Friday, “if these clowns are trying to make me angry at unvaccinated people to distract me from being angry at the White House, it’s not going to work. I’m vaccinated, and therefore, because of that, I don’t care if you get vaccinated. I think you should, but that’s all my opinion is: my opinion. It’s not gonna work, Mr. President. Rogan isn’t the bad Joe here, you are.”

VP Kamala Harris Is The Least Transparent Elected Official In The Nation

Vice President Kamala Harris’ office recently rejected our Freedom of Information Act request for her office’s basic payroll information.

However, President Biden’s White House, the federal executive agencies, all 50 states, and at least 80,000 local units of government are legally required to provide this information. Our auditors at capture and display 25 million salary and pension records annually on our website.

Yet, the Office of the Vice President (VP) was missing from our data, so we filed a request for details – including employee name, position, and salary.

The VP’s rejection makes her the least transparent elected office holder in the country. Citizens ought to be concerned that the person next in line for the presidency is so unwilling to disclose how she spends their money

“The Office of the Vice President is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests,” a VP official told our auditors.

That was news to us.

Even FLOTUS disclosed her office staffers and their pay. For example, we know the 12 employees by name, title, and salary that work for Dr. Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States.

Congress, although not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), must post online their staff salaries, by name, and all vendor checkbook spending within their individual offices and committees.


So, next we asked the VP for her high-level payroll summary information, i.e., the number of office employees and their total overall payroll. After all, taxpayers foot that entire bill.

The official directed us instead to 5 U.S.C. § 551, which deals with public information and agency rules. Apparently, VP Harris’ office isn’t going to voluntarily open its books.

In this, the VP is unique among every school, city, county, state, government agency, and even quasi-government entities that are subject to FOIA disclosure of their payrolls.

As far as we know, Vice President Harris— the second-in-command, and possible next president of the United States — is the only elected official in the country who isn’t required to share her payroll details with the public.

So, why is Harris trying to hide her payroll information?

From the President’s Budget to Congress FY2022, we already know she asked for a $1 million budget increase, to $6 million. This includes 27 staffers – an increase of four over former VP Mike Pence’s FY2021 budget.


We reported in July that President Joe Biden’s White House 2021 office payroll is the largest in history, totaling $49.6 million for 567 White House employees.

Over Biden’s four-year term, we project that his White House staff will cost taxpayers at least $200 million.

Currently, there are 190 more employees on White House staff under Biden than under Trump (377) and 80 more than under Obama (487) – at the same point in their respective presidencies.

These numbers, however, don’t include the Office of the Vice President, and we don’t know who makes how much in VP Harris’ office. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives the public the right to request access to federal agency records or information.

But what’s a federal agency?

The Congressional Research Service (CRS, as recently as August 2020, points to 5 U.S.C. § 551’s definition of “agency.” Agency is defined as “each authority of the Government of the United States, whether or not it is within or subject to review by another agency.”

That broad definition is further described in the FOIA as one that “includes any executive department, military department, Government corporation, Government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive branch of the Government (including the Executive Office of the President), or any independent regulatory agency.”

However, CRS notes the law’s scope, “while this definition includes a large swath of the federal government, it does not encompass the entire federal establishment. For example, FOIA does not apply to Congress, the federal courts, or territorial governments.”

While FOIA’s definition of “agency” includes the Executive Office of the President, CRS explains that courts have decided even some entities within that are excluded from the act.

For example, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1980 decision in Kissinger v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press held that transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s phone conversations during his time as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs weren’t required to be disclosed under FOIA.

In February 1994, President Clinton’s Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger wrote a memorandum as a response to a request from Todd J. Campbell, counsel and director of administration at VP, as to whether his office is an “agency” for the purposes of FOIA.

Dellinger concluded it is not.

He noted that the Supreme Court has held that “agency” doesn’t cover “the President’s immediate personal staff or units in the Executive Office whose sole function is to advise and assist the President.”

“The OVP (Office of Vice President) clearly satisfies the Supreme Court’s ‘sole function’ test,” he argued, “because the Vice President and his staff do not have ‘substantial independent authority in the exercise of specific functions,’ but rather have the sole function of advising and assisting the President.”

Critics might say that the memo used faulty legal analysis to pre-determine the conclusion that their own office wanted: to stop FOIA requests for the VP.

While VP records are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration after an administration leaves office, the VP records aren’t available under FOIA until five years later.

Biden’s own VP records will be subject to public access requests beginning on January 20, 2022, while former Pence’s VP records will become available on January 20, 2026.

If Harris leaves her VP office on January 20, 2025, after one term in office, her office’s records won’t be available until January 20, 2030.

That’s a long time to wait to know what our second-in-command is doing with her office.

Further reading

Biden’s Bloated White House Payroll Is Most Expensive In American History

Freedom Of Information Act Reference Guide

Whether the Office of the Vice President is an “agency” for purposes of the FOIA