Senator Kirsten Gillibrand went on Fox News to do a town hall, something Democrats should not be doing. She played right into their narratives while claiming to call them out for their "infanticide" abortion lies.
June 4, 2019

During her Fox News town hall yesterday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called out Fox News misinformation about abortion and noted that Donald Trump repeated the “infanticide” lie in his State of the Union. But how effective was she?

Gillibrand was asked by an audience member about her position on late-term abortion. Gillibrand didn’t fully answer the question but defended abortion broadly:

GILLIBRAND: My view on women’s reproductive freedom is that it should be a woman’s decision to make these most intimate life and death decisions for themselves. A woman should be able to decide when she’s having children, how many children she’s having and under what circumstances she’s having them. And what we have created, unfortunately, is a false choice and a false narrative.

Then, rather than point out that women who have late-term abortions often do so because of severe health risks to themselves or because they were unable to obtain an abortion earlier, Gillibrand moved on to call out Fox News’ dishonest coverage of the subject.

GILLIBRAND: And, Chris [Wallace], I want to talk about the role that Fox News plays in this because it’s a problem. I can tell you, before President Trump gave his State of the Union, Fox News talked about infanticide. It doesn’t exist.

Host Wallace seemed to have been caught off guard when presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg went after Fox’s Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham during the last town hall but he was ready for Gillibrand.

WALLACE (interrupting): Senator, just want to say, we brought you here for an hour, we’re treating you very fairly. I understand that maybe to make your credentials with the Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News, you’re gonna attack us. I’m not sure it’s, frankly, very polite when we’ve invited you to be here.”

GILLIBRAND: OK, I’ll do it the polite way. I will do it in a polite way. But it’s to her [audience member's] point. It’s to her point.

WALLACE: Well, I just think - why don’t we, why don’t we – instead of talking about Fox News, why don’t you answer [the audience member’s] question.

GILLIBRAND: So, the debate about whether or not women should have reproductive freedom women’s reproductive freedom has turned into a red herring debate. And what happens on Fox News is relevant because they talked about infanticide for 6.5 hours. 6.5 hours – right before President Trump’s State of the Union. Mentioned it 35 times. That is not the debate of what access to reproductive care is in this country. It doesn’t happen, it’s illegal, it’s not a fact. And I believe all of us have a responsibility to talk about the facts.

The facts are that women in this country have had a Constitutional right for over 30 years to make this fundamental life and death decision. And this president has emboldened legislatures in 30 states to begin to criminalize that decision. Criminalize the decision of whether or not and when you want to have your children. Criminalizing the doctors with a 99-year sentence, if they are offering abortion services and providing the care that women need. Why should male legislatures across this country decide when you’re having children, how many you’re having and under what circumstances. I don’t understand it. It’s a human right. It’s about having bodily autonomy. It’s about being able to control your physical self. It’s undermining every human right, civil right that we could have. So let women make these most personal decisions. For many people, it’s a moral decision, for many people, it’s a medical decision, so why can’t they make it with their doctor, with their families, with their husband, based on their own faith, how they believe and what they feel. It is that woman’s right.

Gillibrand got a loud round of applause there. But Gillibrand never really explained why going after Fox News is so important. She hinted at the incestuous relationship between Fox and Trump but without going further. And if Fox is such a font of misinformation, why was she there?

Also, while she seemed correct in her statistics about Fox’s pre-State of the Union “infanticide” disinformation, she did not point out that Fox’s propaganda has continued apace. If anything, it has become more vile. Prime time host Laura Ingraham has referred to Democrats as the “party of infanticide,” a sentiment echoed on Fox & Friends. Rep. Liz Cheney got a friendly Fox News platform to expand on her lie, that Democrats want to “turn maternity wards into killing fields.”

It seemed to me that Gillibrand was engaging in half measures only. If she wanted to call out Fox News, she should have done so in a full-throated way and explained how Fox acts as both an echo chamber and policy adviser to Trump and Republicans without allowing Wallace to stop her. If she wanted to just take a jab, she should have done so more artfully and said something like, “Although there are some on your network who think the only way to defend restricting women’s health care rights is by demonizing them as murderers, here’s the truth…”

In short, the whole thing sounded like pre-scripted posturing for the benefit of those who oppose Democrats doing Fox News town halls. If Gillibrand thinks a Fox town hall is appropriate, let her make that argument.

But Gillibrand did get some attention out of the exchange so maybe that’s all that matters to her. Even Fox News highlighted it, giving it a separate video titled, “Chris Wallace calls out Kirsten Gillibrand for criticizing Fox News.”

Watch it above, from the June 2, 2019 Fox News town hall.

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