Politico was widely mocked for publishing a story that centered around a claim from a Democratic strategist who said the reason why so many radio callers to south Florida's Latino radio stations who disapprove of Vice President Kamala Harris must be the result of astroturfing or Republicans using fake people.
According to the claim, the callers talk as if they are reading a script:
"The fears spilled out into the open when a Miami-based Democratic pollster took to social media to warn that he’s been hearing arguments against the vice president from talk-show callers that he felt appeared scripte
"'The fact that I'm having to raise this alarm, that it's not coming directly from a Democratic organization or even the folks out of Washington, I think is a sign of concern,' said Fernand Amandi, a political strategist who helped Barack Obama win the state in 2008 and 2012.
"Amandi said that the calls struck him 'as weird because [Harris] is not really a topic of conversation down here. The focus is always on the Democrats as a party, on Biden, local officials.'"
Amandi even went as far as to claim the people behind this non-real voicing of criticism towards Harris have a phonebank because he changed the channel to another station and heard another caller "'talking about Kamala Harris, and they [said] the same thing.'"
The Politico story does not present evidence to back up Amandi's claim, instead, it admits, "There is no definitive proof of a coordinated campaign attacking Harris on South Florida radio, as opposed to organic criticism of her conveyed by regular callers."
Yet the framing is misleading as the story does not mention the callers are calling into conservative radio stations, where criticisms of Harris would not be unheard of, and it cites Roberto Rodríguez Tejera, "a morning radio host who has been working in Miami media for three decades" where he said in "a phone interview that he too has noticed the trend in calls about Harris on his own morning show. He came to the same conclusion as Amandi that they likely are coordinated. He identified no suspects but speculated that Republicans are behind them."
Or, maybe they just don't like her. And they have valid reasons.— Christina Pushaw ?? (@ChristinaPushaw) December 21, 2021
Is that really so hard for you to imagine?
It’s very bizarre to me that Politico decided to run with this piece, alleging some nefarious, coordinated campaign from Rs despite not having any evidence that this isn’t just organic commentary on an unpopular VP.— Drew Holden (@DrewHolden360) December 22, 2021
Turning unsubstantiated Dem suspicions into a news story. https://t.co/pXAaTVB11L
What even is this story?— Chris Hartline (@ChrisHartline) December 21, 2021
Politico writes a 1500+ word story because Hispanic voters in South Florida don’t like Kamala (if this is surprising to you, you shouldn’t be covering politics) and a single Dem pollster thinks it’s coordinated but has no actual proof. #Journalism https://t.co/cHuQZvhzQx