“Fox & Friends First” thought they had an interview lined up Monday morning with Ann Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman and returning Democratic candidate for Congress who, at a candidates’ forum on Thursday, had raised her hand in support of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and in condemnation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Instead, apparently due to a producer’s mix-up, they booked Massachusetts State Rep. Barbara L’Italien, also a congressional candidate, whose website advertises her support for abolishing ICE. L’Italien wasted no time Monday morning condemning President Donald Trump’s family separations on Fox News.
“Joining us now, that candidate, the only Democrat on stage to support ICE, Ann Kirkpatrick, we appreciate it,” host Jillian Mele began. “Tell us why you do support ICE?”
“Good morning,” L’Italien responded. “I’m actually here to speak directly to Donald Trump. I feel that 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.”
She continued, revealing herself: “I’m actually Barbara L’Italien. I’m a state senator representing a large immigrant community. I’m running for Congress in Massachusetts. I keep thinking about what we’re putting parents through, imagining how terrifying that must be for those families, imagining how it would feel not knowing if I’d ever see my kids again. We have to stop abducting children and ripping them from their parents’ arms, and stop putting kids in cages, and stop making 3-year-olds defend themselves in court.”
“That practice has stopped at this point, Ms. Kirkpatrick, right?” host Rob Schmitt interjected.
“Kids have been reunited with their families,” Mele attempted.
L’Italien continued: “Again, my name is Barbara L’Italien, and I refuse to believe that our only options are open borders or traumatizing—“
The Massachusetts candidate’s video feed cut off.
“Okay,” Smidt said. “Who is this?”
In an emailed statement, “Fox & Friends First” Executive Producer Desiree Dunne said:
“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. During the actual segment, Barbara L’Italien, appeared on camera instead of Kirkpatrick. Despite speaking to producers prior to the interview, 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, or another Joe Katz, is apparently a spokesperson for L’Italien’s campaign.
Later in the show on Monday, Mele told viewers: “We want to apologize for that last segment just a few minutes ago. We were told Ann Kirkpatrick was going to be a guest on a show. As you saw, somebody else stepped in front of that camera. We are working to figure out exactly how that happened.”
“By the way, kind of a weak move to do this on live TV,” Mele said on Twitter afterward. “Desperate for attention,” Schmidt wrote. “@teambarbara pretended to be someone else to multiple people within Fox News and get on tv.”
L’Italien’s campaign told ThinkProgress’ Aaron Rupar that “lack of due diligence” led to the accidental booking. “This would not have happened to an actual news station,” the campaign added.
L’Italien soaked in the unintended publicity, reading her statement in full off-air and posting it to Twitter.
This post has been updated.
Read More →