Fox & Friends ran a segment Thursday morning in which a network correspondent was meeting with supposedly regular people at a diner — but it was actually a choreographed campaign stop with a defeated local politician who later became a Trump Education Department official, to promote the Republican ticket in this year’s Virginia gubernatorial election.
“Dead heat in that race, and the defining issue that we’ve been hearing from voters is education,” the show’s reporter Lawrence Jones said from a diner in the D.C. suburb of Loudoun County, Virginia. “We’ve got Elizabeth, you’re no stranger to Fox & Friends.”
The woman introduced simply as “Elizabeth” is in fact Elizabeth Schultz, a former school board member in neighboring Fairfax County, who became locally notorious for her opposition to LGBTQ-inclusive education. Following her unsuccessful reelection bid in 2019, she became deputy director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department of Education, according to her LinkedIn profile.
As Schultz spoke, the network ran chyrons “Top issues for VA voters in race for governor,” and “Voters discuss the race for VA’s next governor.”
Schultz has appeared on Fox News multiple times, where she has been introduced as simply a concerned local parent — which the network has done with numerous other Republican activists, political staffers, and Trump administration alumni.
In addition to her campaign button for Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, Schultz also wore a shirt that declared, “Parents are not domestic terrorists.” This in turn was part of Fox’s own repeated distortions of public concerns expressed by the Department of Justice and the National School Boards Association over death threats and other intimidating behavior against school board members.
For the past year, Fox News has campaigned against “critical race theory,” using the term as a “catch-all” phrase for any right-wing culture war grievances, especially over racial diversity and civil rights. In addition, the network’s push is deliberately tied to mobilizing Republicans for the midterm elections, with this year’s Virginia elections effectively serving as the pilot project.
Update (10/21/2021, 3:00 p.m.): Schultz appeared later the same day on former Trump aide Steve Bannon’s show, campaigning for Youngkin. Bannon introduced Schultz as “a Trump official in the Department of Education.” The show’s chyrons alternated between describing her in that manner and calling her a “former Fairfax County School Board member.”
All of this is to say, then, that Bannon was more honest in his presentation of Schultz than Fox News has been recently.