PolitiFact rushes to defend Harris after VP's controversial 'equity' comments about hurricane relief

The Vice President's hurricane comments were walked back by FEMA and the White House

PolitiFact rushed to defend Vice President Kamala Harris after comments she made about hurricane relief caused an uproar.

"It is our lowest income communities, and our communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions," she said during the Democratic National Committee's Women’s Leadership Forum, Friday, referring to hurricanes Ian and Fiona. 

"[A]nd so we have to address this in a way that's about giving resources based on equity, understanding we fight for equality but we also need to find for equity," she added.

After critics alleged the Vice President had said aid would be distributed based on racial and economic "equity," PolitiFact claimed Harris had said "no such thing" in a fact-check published Monday that cited White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates, who later heralded the article.

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Democratic National Committee Women's Leadership Forum in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Democratic National Committee Women's Leadership Forum in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Leigh Vogel/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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PolitiFact wrote that the Vice President had been taken "out-of-context" in clips from the event on social media shared by conservatives. The fact-check specifically called out Florida Sen. Rick Scott's claim that Harris had said "if you have a different skin color, you're going to get relief faster."

"[C]onservatives, including Florida Sen. Rick Scott, seized on a shortened, out-of-context clip of Harris’ answer to make it seem as if Harris said federal storm relief would be based solely on race and equity," the fact-check read.

"Harris said no such thing in a response to a question that touched on several topics, including Hurricane Ian, climate change policy and disparities in who is most harmed by climate change and extreme weather," it concluded.

But some of Harris's critics found this defense lacking. 

News crews, tourists and local residents take images as high waves from Hurricane Ian crash into the seawall at the Southernmost Point buoy, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Key West, Fla.

News crews, tourists and local residents take images as high waves from Hurricane Ian crash into the seawall at the Southernmost Point buoy, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Key West, Fla. (Rob O'Neal/The Key West Citizen via AP)

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GOP strategist Matt Whitlock called the fact-check, "hilarious."

"Hilarious - the White House and their dark money-funded propaganda arm at PolitiFact thought the best defense of Harris’s 'equity' comments was to basically say ‘it was a 5-minute word salad and there’s no way of knowing for sure what she was referring to when she said ‘equity,’" he wrote.

YouTube talkshow host Dave Rubin also blasted the White House and CNN for using the PolitiFact article to defend Harris. "Politicians launder their lies through mainstream media. Here's the exact video where she says, ‘communities of color,'" he tweeted.

First responders in Orange County, Florida assist those stranded in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

First responders in Orange County, Florida assist those stranded in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. (Orange County Sheriff's Office)

The VP's comments prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's campaign, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and the White House to clarify that hurricane aid would be available to all impacted by the destructive storm.

Deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told Fox News Digital that Harris's comments were taken out-of-context and were about the "long term goals" to address the "climate crisis in the states."

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