After appearing alongside her father, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, while he announced his child care plan on September 13, Ivanka Trump sat for several interviews, including with ABC’s Good Morning America, Fox News’ The Kelly File and Fox & Friends, and Cosmopolitan magazine. But only Cosmopolitan successfully asked important follow-up questions and challenged Trump on the apparent inconsistencies and inadequacies of her father’s plan.
Ivanka Trump has become an important surrogate for her father, often stepping in to sanitize his outrageous remarks, particularly those about women. When critics pointed out the GOP nominee’s misogyny, Ivanka described him as a “fighter” for women and an “equal opportunity offender,” and after her father offered a victim-blaming defense of former Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who was ousted from Fox following a sexual harassment lawsuit, she went on Fox to claim that the Trump Organization has “a very strong HR team … who is equipped to deal with these issues if they arise.” As The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum explained, Trump has chosen to “deodorize the stink of her father’s misogyny, to suggest that because he loves her that means he loves women -- to erase the actual policies he supports.”
This was the role ABC and Fox allowed Ivanka Trump to play.
Donald Trump’s child care plan lacks details on how it would be funded, and while Fox’s Megyn Kelly and Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt asked Ivanka about the fiscal aspects of the plan, they settled for her answer that everything would be clarified in her father’s September 15 economic speech. Both Fox interviews were fawning, with Kelly marveling at Trump’s (millionaire) working-mother status -- “I don’t know how you do it” -- and Earhardt focusing part of the 10-minute interview on Trump’s relationship with her father: “Tell me some stories. What’s he like? And what do the kids call him?” Kelly also let Trump get away with the lie that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton does not have a child care policy on her website.
ABC’s Amy Robach did question Trump on why her father’s plan excludes paternity leave, and she clarified that Clinton does have a child care plan on her website. But she also allowed Ivanka to push her talking points unchallenged and say the Trump Organization offers paid maternity leave and adoption leave for all of its employees, a claim that Trump employees are now challenging.
It was Cosmopolitan’s Prachi Gupta who successfully challenged Trump by questioning specifics of her father’s plan, like the fact that it doesn’t include same-sex parents when both of the partners are men. She also brought up (and readily provided the source for) Donald Trump’s 2004 statement that pregnancy is inconvenient for business. Gupta thoroughly questioned the financial feasibility of Trump’s child care plan by pointing out that the Republican candidate has promised both tax cuts and increases in infrastructure spending, while also saying he wants to build a border wall. Politico and Vox reported on Ivanka’s interview with Cosmopolitan, noting that she accused “the writer of ‘editorializing’ and instilling ‘hostility’” in her questions and pointing out that she got “combative” after being challenged.
Nussbaum’s article about Ivanka’s speech at the July Republican National Convention highlighted that Ivanka has “stepped forward to blind female voters to who her father is and what he stands for.” Gupta defied this spin, and her Cosmopolitan interview got in Ivanka’s way as she tried to sanitize her father’s record, while exemplifying that women’s magazines and websites have been an undervalued asset in political coverage.