In the End, L’Italien Could Be Outfoxed by Media’s Faux Pas
Desperate times call for desperate measures, even if it involves deceit and a conscious breach of ethics.
State Sen. Barbara L’Italien certainly believes she scored a major political coup on Monday by hoodwinking some Fox News hosts into thinking they were about to interview an Arizona Democratic congressional candidate who took some heat recently for her support of ICE.
But due to some sloppy background checking by Fox News and a L’Italien staffer’s intentional act of deception and fabrication, Fox didn’t get the sympathetic ear it anticipated. Instead, it received a brief but forceful condemnation of President Trump’s immigration policy before pulling the plug on L’Italien’s act.
Locked in an extremely competitive race in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary campaign, L’Italien no doubt viewed Fox’s faux pas as political manna from heaven, a golden opportunity for national exposure that would enable her to break away from the 3rd Congressional pack.
The Andover Democrat apparently didn’t care how she obtained these few minutes of fame. L’Italien became the unexpected guest on “Fox & Friends First” Monday because Joe Katz, L’Italien’s communications director, didn’t tell Fox producers he no longer worked for Arizona congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick.
Katz not only played dumb, but according to a Fox official, confirmed Kirkpatrick’s appearance by email, and also supplied the network with background information on Kirkpatrick and her campaign logo. Due to Katz’s subterfuge, L’Italien appeared on air via Skype and used the opportunity to criticize the Trump administration’s border policies.
L’Italien was quick to make political hay, posting a video of the appearance to her campaign’s YouTube channel and another video containing the full version of remarks she had prepared.
She also made sure that everyone who attended Monday night’s 3rd Congressional District Democratic forum in Concord -- including her nine opponents -- knew about her outfoxing of the president’s favorite network that morning by repeatedly mentioning it.
At first blush, her political opponents -- as well as the liberal left in this state and around the country -- must have grudgingly envied L’Italien for seizing this gift to attack Trump, especially his immigration policies, on national TV.
However, on further reflection, we hope they considered the moral consequences of L’Italien’s actions, and drew the line by realizing that risking the public’s trust isn’t worth this sort of short-term political gain.
Yes, L’Italien’s social-media accounts may see a spike in activity, and her campaign contributions might spurt, but the lack of transparency her campaign demonstrated during this episode could end up offsetting all its transitory benefits.
The Sept. 4 primary is still a month and a half away, and the public’s focus on a political prank such as this will likely pivot to the next breaking-news event created by the 24-hour news cycle.
L’Italien and her foes should realize that though party insiders and ideological zealots may hold the key to victory in the primary, the 60 percent or so of voters in this state who aren’t Democrats may have a different view of questionable behavior like that displayed in this instance come the general election.