Fox News host Jillian Mele had a rough Monday morning.
Mele, the co-host of Fox & Friends First and a Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia alum, started her day by getting stuck on an elevator at 2:09 a.m. Unfortunately, it only went downhill from there.
Mele and her co-host, Rob Schmitt, thought their show had booked Ann Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman and current Democratic congressional candidate in Arizona who was booed during a debate last week for expressing support for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, commonly known as ICE.
Expecting to hear Kirkpatrick explain why she supports ICE, Mele and her co-host, Rob Schmitt, were instead greeted by Barbara L'Italien, a Democratic congressional candidate in Massachusetts who has called for the agency to be abolished.
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"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," L'Italien said before introducing herself to the confused hosts.
"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," L'Italien continued. "We have to stop abducting children and ripping them from their parents' arms, stop putting kids in cages, and stop making 3-year-old defend themselves in court."
"Who is this?" Schmitt asked just before Fox News cut off L'Italien's feed and the show went to a commercial break, adding, "That didn't go as planned." When the two hosts returned, they tried to explain to their viewers what just happened: "We were told Ann Kirkpatrick was going to be on the show. As you saw, somebody else stepped in front of the camera. We are working to figure out how that happened."
In a statement, Fox & Friends First executive producer Desiree Dunne said L'Italien and her campaign fooled the crew into thinking the candidate was actually Kirkpatrick in order to hijack the broadcast.
"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," Dunne said. "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."
According to a source with L'Italien's campaign, Katz last worked for Kirkpatrick in 2010, and has served as L'Italien's spokesman this election cycle. Fox News apparently didn't realize that Katz no longer worked for Kirkpatrick, and L'Italien's campaign said she decided to take advantage of the network's mistake in order to "speak to President Trump in the only way we can be sure he's listening: through Fox News."
Though Trump ended his own administration's "zero tolerance" policy of separating families that cross the U.S.-Mexican border illegally, 2,551 children under the age of 17 remain separated from their parents, Department of Justice attorney August Flentje told a judge Friday. The Trump administration has been ordered to reunite all migrant children with their parents by Thursday, a deadline it appears unlikely to meet.
Following New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's shocking primary victory over 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, many Democratic Party candidates and lawmakers have echoed her call to abolish ICE.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), a potential 2020 presidential candidate, was the first senator to call for the agency's elimination, telling CNN host Chris Cuomo last month ago that it was time to "reimagine" ICE with a "very different mission." Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), another potential 2020 candidate, posted on Facebook last week that it was time to rebuild out entire immigration system, "starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our values."