President Donald Trump’s favorite television talk show, Fox & Friends, booked Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick on yesterday’s show to explain why she supports the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). Or that is who they thought they had booked. Instead, Massachusetts State Senator Barbara L’Italien appeared on screen in her place and denounced the President’s immigration policy on live television.
Fox & Friends & Detractors
After airing a package on Arizona Congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick’s supposed support for ICE (which we now know to be incorrect anyway), co-host Jillian Mele introduced Kirkpatrick for a live interview segment – except the person who appeared on camera was in fact Senator Barbara L’Italien.
“I’m actually here to speak directly to Donald Trump,” L’Italien began, ignoring Mele’s invitation to say nice things about ICE.
“I feel what’s happening at the border is wrong. I’m a mother of four and I believe that separating kids from their parents is illegal and inhumane. I’m actually Barbara L’Italien. I’m a state senator representing a large immigrant community and running for Congress in Massachusetts.”
Despite L’Italien coming clean about her actual identity, Mele’s co-host Rob Schmitt appeared determined to interview Ann Kirkpatrick anyway. Trying to refute L’Italian’s demand that the administration stop abducting children, he said, “But that practice has stopped at this point, Ms. Kirkpatrick, right?”
L’Italien restated that she was in fact L’Italien and not Kirkpatrick, at which point her feed was cut and Schmitt admitted, “Well, that didn’t go as planned.”
The Barbara L’Italien job
According to statements made by Fox News and Barbara L’Italien’s campaign, the guest-booking fiasco arose from some sloppy Fox research, and slightly deceptive responses from L’Italien’s staff.
Fox and Friends First Executive Producer Desiree Dunne said in a statement, “This morning we invited Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick to appear on Fox & Friends First through her press contact on file Joe Katz, who accepted the invitation on Kirkpatrick’s behalf. Katz followed with an email confirming the segment, which also included background information and a campaign logo for Ann Kirkpatrick.
“Despite speaking to producers prior to the interview,” Dunne continued, “L’Italien did not identify herself as anything other than Kirkpatrick until she was live on air, at which point we ended the interview.”
Katz did previously work for Ann Kirkpatrick, but left in 2010. Kirkpatrick has run four federal campaigns since he left. Fox’s poor record keeping handed the L’Italien campaign a genuine chance at national publicity and, like any other politician anywhere else in the world, they took advantage.
But besides getting the wrong person, the real Ann Kirkpatrick has come forward to say Fox got their facts about her wrong in the first place.
Denying that she is “pro-ICE,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement, “This morning, Fox News and other outlets put out false reports on my position on ICE without a single word from me. ICE needs top-to-bottom reform. Trump’s policies — especially around family separation — are illegal and should end immediately.”
So even if Mele and Schmitt had ended up speaking to person they expected to speak to Monday morning, it looks like the segment was going to be undermined by a research mistake. With such slipshod planning by Fox, maybe the L’Italien interview did go as planned after all.