WASHINGTON ― In a priceless mix-up, “Fox & Friends First” thought it booked Arizona Democratic congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick to praise Immigration and Customs Enforcement but ended up with a mysteriously different guest who used a full minute of airtime to trash President Donald Trump’s family separation immigration policy.
“Yeah, okay, who is this?” host Rob Schmitt asked before abruptly ending the Monday interview. “That didn’t go as planned.”
The woman who crashed the segment was Barbara L’Italien, a Massachusetts Democratic state senator and also a congressional candidate. Even though L’Italien identified herself twice during the interview, Kirkpatrick’s name appeared on the TV screen the entire time and the hosts referred to her as Kirkpatrick.
How on earth did this happen?
It turns out that Joe Katz, L’Italien’s campaign spokesman, used to work for Kirkpatrick ― 10 years ago. Fox News, unaware that Katz had changed jobs, reached out to see if he could bring his boss on.
L’Italien saw a chance to speak directly to Trump, on his favorite network, about the serious problems with his immigration policy. So she took it.
“So much for due diligence, so much for fact-checking,” she told HuffPost. “They continued to believe I was [Kirkpatrick] even after I said I wasn’t.”
Here’s the full segment:
L’Italien, running in a 10-candidate Democratic primary for an open seat in Massachusetts 3rd Congressional District, said she’s been “appalled” by the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. A federal judge recently ordered the administration to reunite all separated children by this Friday, but so far only 364 of 2,551 kids have been reunited with their families.
“I hear very real concerns on the ground, every day, that people are going to be deported,” L’Italien said of her own district, which has a high number of Latino residents. “These are hardworking, dedicated people.”
Of her moment in the Fox News spotlight, she said, “We saw an opportunity to speak truth to power. We weren’t convinced it would happen, but it did.”
Desiree Dunne, executive producer of “Fox & Friends First,” told HuffPost that L’Italien did not identify herself “as anything other than Kirkpatrick until she was live on air, at which point we ended the interview.”
L’Italien did her Fox interview via Skype, from her office, so she wasn’t put in the position of pretending to be Kirkpatrick in person at a Fox News studio.
Asked if anyone actually asked her if she was Kirkpatrick, L’Italien replied, “I just said hi.”
The real Kirkpatrick, a former House member seeking to return to the chamber, later tweeted that Fox News inaccurately described her position on ICE, which she said needs “top-to-bottom reform.”