But now that Joe Biden has selected Harris as his running mate, there’s a—surprise!—fresh, much more positive assessment of the California senator. In many senses, the press is serving the same Harris meal—reporters still view her as a health-care waffler and a poor campaign general. They still criticize her for being unable to decide whether she’s a reformer or a cop. But there’s nothing like a political promotion, especially one that could lead to a presidency, to make the press corps adjust the seasoning and serving presentation on a candidate. Yesterday, Harris was just another overbaked politician. Today, she’s fresh as can be, and the press corps can’t stop salivating.

Remember Harris’ inability to connect with Black voters? Never mind. Now the New York Times reports “that she could reinforce Mr. Biden’s appeal to Black voters and women without stirring particularly vehement opposition on the right or left.” Harris has “excited Democrats with a personal story” of being the female offspring of two immigrants, the New York Times notes, one from India and one from Jamaica. It’s true, she’s unquestionably a unique figure in American politics, a pioneer in several ways. It just omits to mention that this all somehow failed to register with Democrats the first time around…

The press turn-around signifies a couple of things. First, political journalism resembles sports writing more than anybody cares to admit. If somebody gets beaten—or, like Harris, bails out before the voting even begins—the political journalists and sportswriters feel compelled to sift the results to explain how that end was so inevitable as to be predictable. Losers must be portrayed as losers, complete with all the failure analysis you can pack into a story. But when they stage a comeback, suddenly there’s a whole new backstory, drawing on the same evidence to explain the revival. Winners, even winners of a place on the bottom half of the ticket, must be presented as winners—at least until they lose, at which point all the original evidence can be reshuffled to explain the inevitability of their defeat.