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• Vice President Kamala Harris laughed while she and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda tried to decide who would answer first in response to a question, while simultaneous translations also were occuring, according to her spokesperson. Duda also laughed.
• In her remarks that preceded and followed the laughter, Harris expressed concern about Ukraine and said there is a moral obligation to help Ukrainian refugees.
A blog article headline claims that a 15-second exchange between Vice President Kamala Harris and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda during a 48-minute news conference is evidence that Harris was callous about Ukraine and its refugees.
The headline on the March 10 article reads, "Vice President Kamala Harris laughs at the plight of Ukraine; at idea of America offering assistance." It was published on The Raging Patriot blog, classified as a "questionable" source of information by Media Bias Factcheck.
The article was shared on Facebook and flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Harris laughed during the March 10 news conference in Warsaw — as did Duda — but the headline mischaracterizes why she was laughing.
Harris and Duda "were laughing about who would speak first amidst simultaneous translations — they were certainly not laughing about refugees," Herbie Ziskend, deputy communications director for Harris, said in a March 10 tweet. He noted that Harris also had announced funding to support Ukrainian civilians.
The exchange in question came near the end of the 48-minute press conference, when an NPR reporter asked the final question. At the 40:34 mark, after the reporter stated her question, Harris and Duda looked at one another, Harris said, "Okay," and Duda laughed. Harris said, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," and laughed, then Duda began his answer.
The phrase "a friend in need is a friend indeed" was used more than once during the press conference, including earlier by Duda, who said, "As Madam Vice President remarked today, ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’ That is why I’m really happy that today, when we are in need and when the NATO eastern flank is in need, the United States, by the decision of President Joe Biden, has deployed additional troops."
After Duda’s answer to the NPR question, Harris said that the U.S. recognizes the generosity and kindness that Poland has shown to Ukrainian refugees.
"So the United States is absolutely prepared to do what we can and what we must, to support Poland in terms of the burden that they have taken on, that I think all of us who understand the moral obligation we should feel to help people who are fleeing harm and seeking refuge; the burden we should all be prepared to take on to support those people who are fleeing their home when they don’t want to leave," she said, according to the transcript.
Harris also announced $53 million in new humanitarian funding from the U.S. government to support Ukrainian civilians.
The moment of laughter that was singled out was not the first time during the press conference when the two paused and appeared to try to decide, laughingly, who should speak first. At the 35-minute mark, they also gestured and laughed as they determined who would reply first.
An article headline says, "Vice President Kamala Harris laughs at the plight of Ukraine; at idea of America offering assistance."
Harris laughed during the press conference, but in reference to whether she or Duda would speak first amidst simultaneous translations. Duda also laughed. The full context makes clear they were not laughing at the situation in Ukraine or offering assistance.
In her remarks that preceded and followed the laughter, Harris expressed concern about the refugees and said there is a moral obligation to help them.
We rate this claim False.
C-SPAN, "Vice President Harris and Polish President Joint News Conference on Russian Invasion of Ukraine," March 10, 2022
Media Bias/Fact Check, "Questionable Sources," accessed March 13, 2022
The Raging Patriot, "Vice President Kamala Harris Laughs At The Plight Of Ukraine; At Idea Of America Offering Assistance," March 10, 2022
The White House, "Remarks by Vice President Harris and President Andrzej Duda of Poland in Joint Press Conference," March 10, 2022
The White House, "Vice President Kamala Harris Announces Additional U.S. Funding to Respond to Humanitarian Needs in Ukraine and Eastern Europe," March 10, 2022
Twitter post, March 10, 2022
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