New York Post Deletes Then Edits False Report About Kamala Harris Book Being Given to Migrant Kids

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Sean Neumann
·4 min read
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getty images From left: President Joe Biden listens as Vice President Kamala Harris gives a speech on April 20.

A reporter for The New York Post quit this week after the paper published and then edited a false story that ran on its front page claiming a book about Vice President Kamala Harris was being given out to migrant children in U.S. custody.

The initial Post report — published Friday before appearing on the tabloid's front page on Saturday — contended that a children's book written by Harris, 56, was being handed out in "welcome kits" to migrant kids at a temporary housing facility in Long Beach, California.

The story spread quickly in conservative circles and to some other news outlets.

A Fox News reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about it at Monday's briefing.

However, a Washington Post fact-check of the story discovered the Post had either exaggerated or misunderstood what happened — and the story traced back to a photo of a single copy of Harris' book, which was donated during a toy and book drive.

CNN reports the Post temporarily took down and then republished the story with an editor's note.

"The original version of this article said migrant kids were getting Harris' book in a welcome kit, but has been updated to note that only one known copy of the book was given to a child," the note now reads.

The author of the Post article, Laura Italiano, announced Tuesday on Twitter that she had resigned over the matter and suggested she knew the paper was disregarding the truth.

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Michael Tullberg/Getty Kamala Harris in 2019

"The Kamala Harris story -- an incorrect story I was ordered to write and which I failed to push back hard enough against -- was my breaking point," Italiano tweeted.

A spokesperson for the Post did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment Wednesday.

Kevin Lee, a spokesman for the city of Long Beach, says there is still only one copy of Harris' Superheroes are Everywhere that has been donated and that the single copy was "not purchased by [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] or the City."

"It was a single book and was not part of a mass donation of that specific title," Lee said in an email to PEOPLE, adding, "The single book you reference is one of now thousands of various books that have already been donated."

Lee says that none of the books donated by community members to the facility are part of any "welcome kit."

"The donated books are part of an inventory, or library if you will, at the shelter," Lee says. "They are not part of a set welcome kit, but rather, children are able to pick and choose what they read from the available donated inventory."

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The HHS says the recently opened "emergency intake site" at the Long Beach Convention Center has the capacity for up to 1,000 children — migrant girls 17 and under, as well as migrant boys 12 and under.

Harris is leading the Biden administration's much-scrutinized efforts to manage a vast increase of migrant children arriving unaccompanied at the border in recent months.

The Post report fueled anger among Republicans over the perception Harris was personally benefitting from the immigration situation.

Sen. Tom Cotton cited it to claim the Biden administration was "forcing taxpayers to buy Kamala Harris's book."

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"After learning officials are handing out Kamala Harris' book to migrants in facilities at the border, it's worth asking… Was Harris paid for these books? Is she profiting from Biden's border crisis?" tweeted Ronna McDaniel, the national chair of the Republican Party.

When asked about the Post's incorrect article at Monday's briefing, Psaki said she would have to investigate further but added: "I hear it's a good book."

A similar debunked claim about the Biden administration had spread from the tabloids to GOP circles in recent days, after The Daily Mail in Britain linked Biden's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions with a university study — unaffiliated with the White House — about people eating less meat.