Bernie staffer called out over Kamala Harris tweet: ‘Her mom died of cancer!’

Sanders' National Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray becomes a trending topic after challenging Harris over Medicare for All

Bernie Sanders' National Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray and Sen. Kamala Harris. (Photo: The Hill and Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A Bernie Sanders staffer became a trending topic on Tuesday after a tweet intended to take Sen. Kamala Harris to task over Medicare for All ended up backfiring in the land of public opinion.

On Monday, Harris tweeted, “Testing for coronavirus AND treatment needs to be free. Period.”

In a tweet apparently meant to highlight Harris’ stance on Medicare for All, Briahna Joy Gray, the national press secretary for Sanders’ 2020 campaign wrote, “This is a good start, but is it ok to die from cancer or diabetes becuase (sic) you’re poor?”

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Gray’s comment drew the ire of some who slammed the tweet for as insensitive, considering Harris’ mother died of cancer in 2009.

“The tone of this tweet is mean and disrespectful. Especially considering Kamala’s mother died from cancer,” wrote MSNBC political analyst Zerlina Maxwell.

“Attn younger ppl hoping to pursue a career in political communications: comms work requires thinking, strategy, foresight. And always uplifting the candidate. Trolling someone who isn’t even an opponent…it’s not really a thing. And is damaging to the campaign. Don’t do this,” tweeted political commentator Tiffany Cross.

MSNBC anchor Joy Reid approved of Cross’ tweet writing, “I second this as a former campaign press secretary.”

Gray, however, pushed back against critics who took issue with her tweet and said that people were “ignoring” what she actually said. “Some folks are very deliberately ignoring the ‘because you’re poor’ part of this, which, not so coincidentally, is the part we can control with policy,” she tweeted.

“I wish folks were this angry about people dying because they’re poor,” Gray wrote in response to Maxwell’s tweet.

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Gray also replied to a tweet from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden‘s senior advisor, Simone Sanders, who tweeted “Reupping this one” along with a tweet from last week that read, “Someone should tell these young comms staffers not to leave it all on the internet.”

“I know I look good, but I’m four years older than you,” Gray wrote. “More importantly, principles shouldn’t be negotiable or contingent on your employer. Medicare for all is the only ethical position. Of course, you know that already.”

In response to the tweet from Cross, Gray said, “Attention young people: Don’t ever put careerist ambitions in front of your principles. I was hired because I believe in what this movement is fighting for, and that commitment empowers me to say what’s right and true rather than what can secure a network news pay check.”

Harris had previously discussed her mother’s battle with cancer while campaigning for the presidency last year. During an interview on ABC with a voter, a teary Harris described her mother telling her and sister, Maya Harris, about her cancer diagnosis as the “worst days of my life.”

“She took our hands and she said she’d been diagnosed with colon cancer,” Harris said. recalling her mother talking to her and her sister, Maya Harris. “That was one of the worst days of my life, truly.”

Speaking more specifically to the U.S.’s healthcare system Harris said, “It is about going through a system that is complicated … there are elements of it that work and elements of it that did not work.”