This is an interesting turn of events. During the Democratic debates this week, California Senator Kamala Harris came under fire from rival candidate Tulsi Gabbard (U.S. representative, D-HI) in an exchange that most media have called a brutal torching, or some variant thereof.
Harris was the attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017. Gabbard’s debate attack centered on Harris’s record from that period – and Gabbard was highly critical of the Harris record’s impact on “black and brown people.” Gabbard also mentioned a sequence well-remembered in California in which Harris, having compiled a rigorous – even harsh – record against marijuana offenders, laughed coyly about whether she had smoked pot in her earlier years.
But it was the recitation of Harris’s general statistics that produced the sensation of a smackdown by Gabbard.
Harris did no better in her response than Joe Biden had done when Harris smacked him around over school busing in the first debate.
The next day, the Gabbard-Harris exchange dominated post-mortems on the second pair of debates. Some pundits even wondered if the Harris campaign had taken a fatal blow.
Thus, the timing of a very recent website redesign for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) looks … interesting. It seems to be making news because the effect of the redesign was only detected after the debate on Wednesday night (July 31).
The effect: to make previously accessible records compiled on Kamala Harris’s criminal justice statistics inaccessible.
The CDCR has responded to media queries over the last two days by stating that it is only complying with a state law from 2017 requiring compliance with certain accessibility standards. The timing is unrelated to the Democratic debates, according to the CDCR.
That assertion is plausible, assuming it’s just about the regulatory compliance. It would be hard to introduce a website redesign overnight.
But the timing can’t help being noteworthy, especially in light of the media’s eagerness to take up the Kamala Harris campaign theme: that Tulsi Gabbard is attacking Harris because Gabbard is backed by the Russians. This weird, off-the-wall allegation was being given as much oxygen as possible on Thursday and Friday.
Beware the Russian bots and their promotion of Tulsi Gabbard and sowing racial dischord, especially around Kamala Harris.
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) August 1, 2019
Reporters writing their stories with eyes on the modern-day assignment desk of Twitter, read this:
"The Russian propaganda machine that tried to influence the 2016 election is now promoting the presidential aspirations of a controversial Hawaii Democrat"https://t.co/2kpKQqW3Ir
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) August 1, 2019
It does seem as if Harris is the candidate favored at the moment by the mainstream media and at least some in the Democratic Party hierarchy.
An explanation from the CDCR spokesman of the effect of the website redesign doesn’t offer a sense of straightforwardness and reassurance. Washington Free Beacon quotes the CDCR’s Jeffrey Callison:
“While many documents that are not accessible can be remediated, it is a significant use of resources to do it across the board. Some older documents have been removed from our website but are still available upon request; others are temporarily removed while they are being remediated; and many others have already been remediated and are on our website,” he said.
Callison added that the documents are still available upon request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested parties may be left to wonder if any documents they request from Kamala Harris’s tenure will be found to be in remediation, at least until the 3rd of November in 2020.