The wife of U.S. Sen.-elect John Fetterman of Pennsylvania said right-wing misogyny is fueling personal attacks on her by conservative news outlets and on social media.
“The right-wing hates women,” Gisele Barreto Fetterman told The New Republic magazine in a new interview.
“They especially hate strong women, and I think that’s what you’re seeing,” said Gisele, whose Democratic husband currently is Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor.
“The fact that a spouse of a senator-elect has been attacked nonstop for the past 24 hours and everyone’s OK with it and everyone thinks it’s normal … It’s not normal,” she said after her first day of spousal orientation on Capitol Hill.
“Since entering the Capitol for training, my inbox has been completely filled with threats and horrible things,” she told the magazine.
“And that’s because I’ve been [on a] loop on Fox News,” Gisele said.
“Hopefully it’s not like this forever … and hopefully it’s not like this for the next young Latina or person of color or spouse who enters this space,” the Brazil-born Fetterman said.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., another woman of color who has been heavily criticized by Fox News, sympathized with Gisele Fetterman, telling The New Republic, “It’s very important that the [Democratic] party sticks up for people.”
“They haven’t done a good job in the past,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Gisele Fetterman has become her husband’s spokesperson since he suffered a stroke in May.
That medical emergency accelerated conservative attacks on John Fetterman, whose race against the Republican nominee, TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, was among the most closely watched contests of the midterm elections.
The Senate seat at stake was becoming vacant due to the retirement of Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, at a time when the GOP was trying to regain a majority in the Senate. Oz also drew attention because of the backing he received from former President Donald Trump.
A survey by Media Matters for America, a liberal press watchdog, found that John Fetterman was mentioned on Fox News’ prime-time lineup more often than the Democratic nominees in six other competitive races combined.
Gisele Fetterman herself quickly became a target of criticism.
Fox News host Jesse Waters in an October segment of his show called her “quite calculating” and insinuated she wished to switch jobs with her husband.
Other pundits have also pushed that conspiracy theory.
The conservative media’s focus on Gisele Fetterman continued after her husband’s defeat of Oz helped Democrats maintain majority control of the Senate.
In particular, Fox News fixated on a photograph of Gisele and John Fetterman taken on their first day at the Capitol, in which the 6’9″ senator-elect is standing to the far left of the frame and his right arm is largely cropped out.
While that image, posted by Gisele Fetterman on her Twitter account, was meant to be an inside joke about John Fetterman’s size, some accused her of trying to steal the limelight from him.
Fox News, in an online article about the photo, said social media “users mocked the photo for seemingly depicting Mrs. Fetterman as having achieved her fifteen minutes of fame.”
“Some insisted the photo was her leaning into the claim that she was the actual Senate candidate all along, thanks [to] her husband’s cognitive issues caused by his stroke last May,” the news outlet reported.
That article quoted several tweets from conservatives, including several from other media outlets.
John Fetterman’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about his wife’s interview.
On Oct. 28, Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was brutally assaulted by an intruder in the couple’s San Francisco home.