Ivanka Trump did a rare non-Fox News interview with CBS for Sunday’s edition of Face the Nation. But given the way it obscured key facts, host Margaret Brennan’s approach to interviewing the president’s elder daughter and senior adviser would’ve fit right in on Fox & Friends.
The interview was mostly about a 12-week paid parental leave provision for federal workers that made it into the $738 billion 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) President Trump recently signed into law. That provision was included following a push from congressional Democrats who wanted something in return for the creation of the president’s much-hyped Space Force. Brennan, however, characterized Ivanka as the hero of the day.
“You worked to get Republicans on board ... how did you get the Republican caucus to support these things?” Brennan asked.
Giving Ivanka so much credit for the NDAA’s leave provision was questionable, but things got worse at the end of the interview when Brennan went to extreme lengths to portray her as a moderating force in her father’s White House.
On the topic of immigration, Brennan described Ivanka as “vocal in your opposition” to the inhumane family separation policy her father implemented in April 2018, noting that she described the policy as a “low point.” But Ivanka was not in fact “vocal” in opposition to the policy — in fact, the opposite is the case.
As my colleague Emily Stewart chronicled at the time, Ivanka — supposedly an advocate for women and families in the administration — only spoke out in opposition to the family separation policy after her father signed an executive order in June 2018 ending it. She was conspicuously silent in the days leading up to that point, as heart-rending stories and images of children being separated from their families along the southern border were in the news.
From Stewart’s piece:
[P]ublicly, Ivanka said nothing about the matter until her father had put an end to it. And it’s not like she wasn’t active on social media.
Her Twitter account fired off a handful of generic messages before going radio silent after June 15, celebrating the US’s successful bid for the World Cup in 2026, touting women’s responsible borrowing habits, and quoting a Chinese proverb.
Some of Trump’s social media activity celebrated the closeness of her family in a way critics have called tone-deaf: a birthday wish to her father, a Father’s Day salute to her husband and her dad, a picture of her holding her son.
The “low point” comment Brennan referenced during the Face the Nation interview was made by Ivanka during an August 2018 interview. But even then, in the next breath she made excuses for the policy by remarking that the US is “a country of laws.”
Brennan’s misleading characterization of Ivanka’s position on the family separation policy was later echoed in a tweet from the Face the Nation account that included video of the exchange and has a ratio of more than 3,100 (largely critical) replies to 151 retweets as this is published — one that indicates CBS’s framing is going over poorly.
After being vocal against the administration's "zero tolerance" policy, @IvankaTrump says "everyone should be engaged" in the immigration debate. "The full United States government has been focused on this issue, starting with the president." pic.twitter.com/eWGJRemC1k— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) December 29, 2019
In the interview, Brennan eventually noted that, according to Homeland Security, there are still about 900 children who remain separated from their families. She asked Ivanka if “that is something you continue to remain engaged on when it comes to immigration?”
Ivanka replied by punting, saying, “Immigration is not part of my portfolio, obviously. I think everyone should be engaged.”
Brennan’s softball approach to interviewing Ivanka was notable given that it happened on CBS, but not unusual. To cite a recent example, Ivanka was interviewed by a State Department spokesman and Fox News contributor at the Doha Forum earlier this month — a significant departure from the tough interviews conducted by actual journalists that other officials at the event participated in.
For Ivanka, perception trumps reality
In giving Ivanka more credit than she deserves, CBS followed the lead of the Trump White House. On numerous occasions this year, President Trump has credited his daughter with singlehandedly creating 14 million jobs — a number more than double the total amount of jobs created since he took office.
Trump just claimed, absurdly, that Ivanka Trump has "gotten jobs for" 14 million (!) people. pic.twitter.com/fT4VHsti9N— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 12, 2019
Instead of correcting the record, Ivanka has amplified her father’s absurd exaggerations about the impact the workforce policy board she co-chairs has had on the American economy, saying things like, “We’re up to 6.3 million new jobs. That represents 5 percent of the current workforce. So it’s really remarkable.” (Her comments conflate the number of training opportunities companies have offered to workers since her father’s inauguration with actual job creation.)
Then again, for Ivanka — who was appointed by her father to a top position in the Trump administration despite having no qualifications for the role — perception is more important than reality.