Tucker Carlson appeared to suggest that it doesn’t matter how Kamala Harris‘s name is pronounced in a heated exchange with a Democrat strategist live on air – just hours after the California senator had been chosen as presidential candidate Joe Biden‘s running mate.
Discussing Mr Biden’s pick, political consultant Richard Goodstein pointed out to Mr Carlson that Ms Harris’s name was in fact pronounced “Comma-la”, after the Fox News host had said “Ka-mal-a”, just seconds earlier on his top-rated show.
“Tucker, can I just say one quick thing because this is something that will serve you and your fellow hosts on Fox News well,” Mr Goodstein told Mr Carlson. “Her name is pronounced ‘Comma’...like the punctuation mark...’Comma-la’, OK?”
Mr Carlson, a political journalist and commentator who once worked for the Democrat-leaning network CNN – and has amassed a huge following in the US with his often outspoken views – appeared to become angry at being corrected by Mr Goodstein.
“So what?” Mr Carlson said when it was pointed out to him that he pronounced Ms Harris’s name incorrectly. Mr Goodstein then hit back: “I think out of respect for someone who is going to be on the national ticket, pronouncing her name right... is kind of a bare minimum.”
Mr Carlson, who has been touted as a potential successor to president Trump, laughed before replying: “So I’m disrespecting her by mispronouncing her name unintentionally?” He added: “So it begins; you’re not allowed to criticize Ka-MAL-a Harris, or KAM-a-la Harris...or whatever?” appearing to suggest that it did not matter how Ms Harris’s name was pronounced,
“Ok look, I unintentionally mispronounced her name,” Mr Carlson continued. “But I love the idea that she is immune from criticism... On this show, nobody in power is immune from criticism. Our political leaders must be held to account – that’s our job.”
Mr Carlson had been questioning Mr Goodstein on how Ms Harris could legitimately act as Mr Biden’s running mate after she accused him of sexual assault during the race to become the Democratic candidate for president.
In April 2019, prior to Mr Biden entering the presidential race, reports surfaced of the former vice president inappropriately touching women, allegations that he strongly denies.
When asked by reporters about the claims, Ms Harris said she believed the women who spoke out against her now-running mate.
“I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it,” she said. Multiple women accused Mr Biden of inappropriately touching them, including one Nevada politician who said he came up to her at a 2014 campaign stop and kissed the back of her head.
The pair now appear to have patched things up, although they disagree on a number of policy areas, including on mandatory school buses, Medicare for all and policing.
Mr Biden has since said that he holds no grudges against Ms Harris, who became the first black woman and South Asian American to take on the role of Democratic running mate on Tuesday night.
If elected, Ms Harris would be the nation’s first woman and first black and first Asian American person in the role, alongside the US’s oldest president-elect, who turns 78 in November.
Only two other women have been nominated as vice-presidential candidates for a major party – Sarah Palin by the Republican party in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro by the Democrats in 1984. Neither ended up on the winning ticket.