Gisele Fetterman, wife of Democratic U.S. Senate nominee John Fetterman, speaks to supporters after her husband’s victory in the Pennsylvania primary at a watch party in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the United States, May 17, 2022.
Quinn Glabicki | Reuters
The wife of Pennsylvania Senator-elect John Fetterman says right-wing misogyny fuels personal attacks on her from conservative news outlets and on social media.
“The far right hates women,” Gisele Fetterman said in a new interview with The New Republic magazine.
“They hate particularly strong women, and I think it shows,” said Gisele, whose husband is the current Democratic lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania.
“The fact that a spouse of an elected senator has been assaulted non-stop for the last 24 hours and everybody’s okay with that and everybody thinks it’s normal… It’s not normal,” she said after her first day on Capitol Hill.
“Ever since I entered the Capitol for training, my inbox has been completely filled with threats and horrible things,” Gisele told The New Republic of her first day of spouse orientation.
“And that’s because I was a non-top loop at Fox News,” she said.
“It’s not normal,” Gisele added. “Hopefully it won’t be like this forever … and hopefully it won’t be like this for the next young Latina or person of color or spouse who walks into this room.”
New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another black woman who has been heavily criticized by Fox News, sympathized with Gisele, telling The New Republic: “It’s very important that the [Democratic] Party stands up for people.”
“They haven’t done a good job in the past,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Brazilian-born Gisele has been her husband’s spokesperson since he suffered a stroke in May.
This medical emergency hastened conservative attacks on John Fetterman, whose race against Republican nominee, famous TV star Dr. Mehmet Oz, was among the most closely watched contests of the midterm elections.
The Senate seat at stake became vacant due to the resignation of Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican, at a time when the GOP was trying to regain control of the Senate. Oz also attracted attention because of the support he received from ex-President Donald Trump.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama endorses John Fetterman, Pennsylvania Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, on stage while Gisele Fetterman stands nearby on November 5, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.
Quinn Glabicki | Reuters
A poll by Media Matters for America, a liberal press watchdog, found that in six other competitive races combined, Fox News’ primetime lineup featured John Fetterman more often than Democratic nominees.
Gisele Fetterman himself quickly came under criticism.
Fox News host Jesse Waters called Gisele “pretty calculating” and hinted that she was looking to swap jobs with John Fetterman in an October segment of his program.
Other experts have also promoted this conspiracy theory.
Conservative media focus on Gisele continued after her husband’s loss to Oz helped Democrats retain majority control of the Senate.
Fox News in particular focused on a photo taken by Gisele and John Fetterman on their first day in the Capitol, in which the senator-elect is standing on the far left of the frame, with his right arm largely cropped out.
While this picture, posted by Giselle on her Twitter account, was intended as an inside joke about John Fetterman’s height, some accused his wife of trying to steal the spotlight from him.
Fox News said in an online article about the photo that social media users “mocked the photo because it appeared to portray Mrs. Fetterman as having achieved her fifteen minutes of fame.”
“Some insisted the photo was her inclination to claim she was the actual Senate nominee all along, thanks [to] her husband’s cognitive problems caused by his stroke last May,” the news outlet reported.
This article quoted several tweets from Conservatives, including several from other media outlets.
Fetterman’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC on his wife’s interview.
The US Capitol Police investigated nearly 10,000 threats against Congress last year.
And violent threats against lawmakers and their staff have more than doubled since 2017.
In October, Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was brutally attacked by an intruder at the couple’s San Francisco home.