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Yesterday, first-time Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) tweeted an attack on Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams.
Abrams, Ernst wrote, “refuses to concede,” calls anti-choice legislation “evil,” and “wants to be Vice President?” The tweet also included a link to an article on anti-choice website LifeNews.com.
.@stacyabrams:— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) September 3, 2019
❌Refuses to concede after losing her gubernatorial race.
❌Calls protections for unborn babies ‘evil’.
❌Wants to be Vice President?
Share this with your friends to let them know just how out of touch the Democrats have become.https://t.co/l6UkHNEdrj
Ernst is correct that Abrams refused to concede and she has stated that she is “open” to being tapped for vice president. But there are a few problems with the tweet.
First and most obvious, why would an Iowa Republican attack a Georgia Democrat on Twitter? Second, Ernst misspelled Abrams’ first name and tagged the wrong person—the suspended account @stacyabrams. And finally, as Iowan columnist Lyz Lenz said, LifeNews.com is a “fake news site.”
The senator from Iowa tweeting a link from a fake news site in order to smear another politican https://t.co/qJ5X6RPKhC— Lyz Lenz (@lyzl) September 4, 2019
LifeNews bills itself as “an independent news agency” that reports on items of interest to the anti-choice community. Founded by a man, because of course, it chums the internet with stories about things like the “heartbreaking” tale of some guy who tried to sue an abortion clinic after his girlfriend allegedly terminated her pregnancy, a book that “confirms abortion motivated” Christine Blasey Ford to accuse then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and the like.
Media Bias/Fact Check rates LifeNews as “right biased” and “mixed for factual reporting.” The rating cites its “use of loaded language,” reliance on “factually mixed” sourcing, consistently favoring “far-right Christian” perspectives, and publishing stories with “false” claims.
“LifeNews has also been accused of fabricating news,” the rating adds.
The article about Abrams is typical fodder for LifeNews. It labels Abrams an “abortion activist” and “failed pro-abortion politician” because she is pro-choice, and mischaracterizes her previous statements on the subject.
For instance, Abrams referred to a bill that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, when a woman may not even know she’s pregnant, as an “abominable and evil” restriction on reproductive freedom. This, LifeNews refers to as calling “protections for unborn babies evil.” During Abrams’ response to President Trump’s State of the Union address last February, she referred to the rights guaranteed under Roe v. Wade as “a measure of reproductive justice.” LifeNews takes this to mean “she promoted abortion as a moral good.”
Ernst’s followers and constituents were understandably confused by her attack on a Georgia Democrat who isn’t even running for office at present. The response, “Thank u for standing up against what real Iowans care about….former gubernatorial candidates from Georgia,” sums up the sarcasm in the mentions. “Somebody is REALLY afraid of strong, black women,” was one of the more scathing retorts.
“You mean the race her opponent was in charge of, and then was the overseer of the recount? That race? Oh ok. Good thing there was no conflict of interest there,” one man pointed out. Ernst’s opponent Kimberly Graham was among the chorus drawing attention to the serious problems with Georgia’s 2018 elections.
That's interesting.— Kimberly Graham (@KimberlyforIowa) September 3, 2019
Because if I'm elected, I plan on calling for a Senate Investigation into Brian Kemp's voter suppression and corruption during the 2018 elections.
I guess I just care about free and fair elections, but that is just me. https://t.co/2GtwRDMJcn
Ernst has since been silent on Twitter.
Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.