Key Words: ‘If I may finish…’ Kamala Harris says Putin faces ‘severe costs’ over Ukraine during heated Savannah Guthrie interview

Vice President Kamala Harris and “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie went head-to-head in a live interview airing on the one-year anniversary of President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Thursday. 

Guthrie grilled Harris on hot topics including the upcoming midterm elections and potential Russian aggression against the Ukraine a year to the day that the latter was sworn in as the first woman and the first woman of color to hold the office of vice president of the United States.

Guthrie pressed the VP to clarify Biden’s comments about Russia the night before, in particular. While the president threatened sanctions “never seen” if Russia moves on Ukraine, he also drew some flack for appearing to play down a potential “minor incursion” by Russia

Related: What has Biden done wrong in his first year? Done well? Analysts assess inflation, COVID response and more

As Harris was saying that Biden’s statements were “clear,” Guthrie cut in by stating, “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but it is less than ‘clear,’ because 30 minutes after the news conference, the White House press secretary had to actually clarify the president’s remarks.” 

Harris responded, “Savannah, I’m being clear with you right now, and so if you’re interested, I’ll continue to be clear.” 

When pressed again about Putin, Harris answered: “I will repeat myself, and I’m vice president of the United States, and the president and I work closely together … if Vladimir Putin and Russia take aggressive action, it will be met with a cost that is severe.” 

At another point in the interview, Guthrie jumped in again while Harris was answering a question on whether Biden is concerned about the integrity of the upcoming midterms. “If I may finish,” Harris countered this time. “Let’s not be distracted by the political gamesmanship, when what is truly at stake are issues like whether Americans with a disability have the opportunity to vote by mail, whether a single parent has the opportunity, with three kids in the back seat, to vote by dropping a ballot in the drop box instead of having to stand in line with those three kids for hours. These are the issues that are at stake.” 

We know that Harris isn’t one to be talked over. She went viral during the 2020 vice presidential debate with Mike Pence for speaking up when the sitting VP interrupted her, repeatedly. (By CBS News’s count, Pence interrupted Harris 10 times, which was twice as many times as the five instances when Harris cut in on him.) Her own interjection, “Mr. Vice President, I am speaking,” went viral. 

Read more: Why Sen. Kamala Harris’s telling Vice President Mike Pence, ‘I am speaking,’ is resonating with so many women online

Indeed, several studies looking at the differences in speech patterns between genders since the 1970s have found that women are more likely to be interrupted — including by other women. In fact, a 2014 George Washington University study found that while the overall interruption gap between men and women was closing, with both genders butting in when it wasn’t their turn at similar rates, women were still getting talked over more. And while the women in the study only interrupted men once on average during a three-minute conversation — they actually interrupted other women 2.8 times.

So Guthrie’s interjections rubbed many viewers the wrong way on Thursday, leading her name to trend on Twitter TWTR, +2.38% throughout the day. “What is wrong with [Savannah] Guthrie? She continued to cut the VP off in mid sentence. I was cringing it was so disrespectful,” one viewer commented under a “Today” show clip shared on Twitter. 

“This happens far [too] frequently with Savannah. Being hard nose in a five minute interview doesn’t work,” added another.

Still, others praised her for being a journalist unafraid to push back against a politician who appeared to be sticking to PR-friendly talking points. 

“If you listened, she was trying to get our VP to answer the questions she was asking,” tweeted one

“No, Savannah did not interrupt just to interrupt,” wrote another. “She interrupted to attempt to get an answer in an actual question and not a memorized PR answer.  Good job.” 

And to be sure, Guthrie was also accused of showing disrespect toward then-President Donald Trump during a 2020 town hall, when she called out the commander-in-chief for retweeting conspiracy theories as if he were “someone’s crazy uncle.” Bill O’Reilly at the time said the Q&A was “a setup,” and Rudy Giuliani called Guthrie “hostile, argumentative, and contradictory.” So she’s an equal-opportunity interruptor.

But even then, Guthrie supporters like Bette Midler praised the journalist for being tough on Trump.

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