Aug 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Newsweek pens apology for baseless op-ed claiming Harris may be ineligible for VP


Sen. Kamala Harris. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Newsweek in an editor's note on Friday night apologized for an op-ed published earlier this week that inaccurately claimed California-born Sen. Kamala Harris may be ineligible for the vice presidency because both her parents were not naturalized citizens at her birth.

Why it matters: The op-ed written by John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University, drew immediate backlash, including from Republicans, who denounced the piece as a fresh attempt at "birtherism" — the racist conspiracy theory circa 2008 that accused President Obama of not being born in the U.S.

  • An earlier editor's note defended the op-ed as having "no connection whatsoever to so-called 'birther-ism.'"

What they're saying: The latest editor's note states: "The op-ed was never intended to spark or to take part in the racist lie of Birtherism, the conspiracy theory aimed at delegitimizing Barack Obama, but we should have recognized the potential, even probability, that that could happen."

  • "Readers hold us accountable for all that we publish, as they should; we hold ourselves accountable, too. We entirely failed to anticipate the ways in which the essay would be interpreted, distorted and weaponized."
  • "This op-ed is being used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia. We apologize. The essay, by John Eastman, was intended to explore a minority legal argument about the definition of who is a 'natural-born citizen' in the United States," the note reads.
  • "But to many readers, the essay inevitably conveyed the ugly message that Senator Kamala Harris, a woman of color and the child of immigrants, was somehow not truly American."

Where it stands: Newsweek says it will not unpublish the op-ed because the outlet believes in "being transparent and are therefore allowing it to remain online, with this note attached."

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