A story made the rounds around social media Wednesday alleging that MSNBC had hired the sister of California Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris as a policy analyst. Several users shared a tweet from the TV network’s official Twitter account of the announcement that MSNBC had brought aboard Maya Harris, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the younger sister of the 2020 Democratic candidate.
The tweet is genuine. But it’s also from 2017, and has nothing to do with Kamala Harris’ presidential candidacy.
Maya Harris, a lawyer who formerly worked for the Ford Foundation and Center For American Progress, was hired as a political analyst by the cable news network back in the summer of 2017.
It’s rather unremarkable for cable networks and other news outlets to hire people with experience in the political arena, to participate in panels and other news segments. Just this week, for example, former Senator Jeff Flake was hired by CBS News and former Congressman Trey Gowdy has joined Fox News. It’s also not rare for networks to hire people who explicitly advocate for specific candidates, with CNN having cycled through several “pro-Trump” contributors, including Jeffrey Lord and Jason Miller, over the course of the Trump era.
It’s also far from rare for people who host shows on news networks to have experience in politics, or be related to those who are. George Stephanopoulos was a Clinton White House aide before launching a media career. Joe Scarborough, before taking over MSNBC’s morning show, was a Republican congressman from Florida. Another MSNBC host, Nicolle Wallace, was a George W. Bush White House aide, while CNN prime time host Andrew Cuomo is the brother of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Maya Harris, MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted Thursday, is now on leave from MSNBC in order to serve as campaign chairwoman for her sister’s presidential campaign. “If she appears it would be explicitly as a campaign surrogate, labeled as such,” Hayes added.
In 2016, The New Yorker profiled Maya Harris, describing her as a “progressive link” on Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff. The article speculated that if Clinton had won the presidency, Harris would likely have been named to a top West Wing staff position. During that campaign, Katy Perry posted to Instagram about a three-hour meeting she and some friends had with Maya Harris, because Perry wanted to be briefed on the campaign’s issues before sharing the stage with Clinton the following day.