A Massachusetts state senator who opposes President Trump’s immigration policies was mistakenly booked on Fox News, and she used the airtime to criticize Trump’s “illegal and inhumane” treatment of migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Barbara L’Italien, a Democrat, appeared Monday on “Fox & Friends First” instead of the intended guest, Democratic congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick, who has publicly supported U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A spokesman for L’Italien said in a statement that “due to a Fox News error,” L’Italien was contacted and asked to share her views on ICE and decided to use the opportunity to “make a statement straight to Trump.”
“I’m actually here to speak directly to Donald Trump,” she said during the broadcast. “I feel that what’s happening at the border is wrong.”
L’Italien said she has four children and believes “separating kids from their parents is illegal and inhumane.”
Desiree Dunne, executive producer for “Fox & Friends First,” said in a statement to The Washington Post the spokesman on file for Kirkpatrick had accepted the invitation for the candidate.
“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,” Dunne said. “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.”
When asked whether he had sent Kirkpatrick’s background information and campaign logo to the network, Katz said in an email: “I showed the exact same commitment to the truth and accuracy that Fox News always has.”
The segment began with a video clip showing Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman and a Democratic candidate in Arizona’s 2nd District, getting booed as she raised her hand in support of ICE during a recent debate.
“Joining us now, that candidate — the only Democrat onstage to support ICE — Ann Kirkpatrick. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it. Tell us why you do support ICE,” Fox host Jillian Mele said, a clip on L’Italien’s YouTube channel shows.
“I’m actually Barbara L’Italien,” said L’Italien, who is 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,” the state senator added. “We have to stop abducting children and ripping them from their parents’ arms, stop putting kids in cages and stop making 3-year-olds defend themselves in court.”
Within seconds, Mele and Fox host Rob Schmitt interrupted, telling L’Italien migrant children are no longer separated from their parents. A federal judge in San Diego has ordered the U.S. government to reunite about 2,500 migrant children with their families by Thursday after the children were seized as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” crackdown on illegal immigration.
“Again, my name is Barbara L’Italien,” L’Italien pressed on, “and I refuse to believe that our only options are open borders or —” she continued before the broadcast abruptly ended.
“Who is this?” Schmitt said, as someone in the studio began to clap. “That didn’t go as planned.”
After the segment, L’Italien said on Twitter her time on the air had been cut short, and she continued with her prepared statement.
“I refuse to believe that our only options are open borders or traumatizing children, and shame on you for pretending that they are,” she said, addressing Trump. “Shame on you for putting this vile, racist policy in place.”
“Our immigration system should be just, fair, compassionate and reflect our values as a nation of immigrants,” L’Italien added. “What we have now, what you are doing, is none of those things. You are just being cruel to people who believed us when we said that this country was a land of freedom and opportunity. You need to stop blaming everyone else for your moral failures and put a stop to this, Mr. President.”