Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan testifies during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump in Longworth Building on Wednesday Dec. 4, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Fox News attacks impeachment witness Pamela Karlan after Melania Trump complains she invoked Barron

Melania said the law professor "should be ashamed" for invoking her son in a joke that was actually about his dad

Igor Derysh
December 5, 2019 4:04PM (UTC)

Fox News hosts went after Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan after first lady Melania Trump complained that she invoked her son's name during a joke at Wednesday’s hearing in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Karlan made the comment during her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.


"Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 [of the Constitution] does not give him the power to do anything he wants. The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron," she said as the room responded with laughter.

Melania Trump responded by firing off an angry tweet at Karlan.

"A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,” she tweeted.


Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., took issue with Karlan’s comment during the hearing.

"When you invoke the president's son's name here, when you try to make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument," Gaetz said. "It makes you look mean."

Karlan apologized for the comment later in the hearing.


"I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president's son. It was wrong of me to do that. I wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things he's done that's wrong, but I do regret having said that,” she said.

Her apology did not stop Fox News’ primetime and morning hosts from smearing Karlan, accusing her of being “psychotic” and a “moron.”


“This lady needs a shrink. The sons of the powerful? Really?” said host Tucker Carlson. “You're a law professor at Stanford and you're lecturing other people how they are powerful? Right. This is the legendary scholar coming down from on high to tell us who is good and who is evil. Please. What a mediocrity. What a moron.”

Sean Hannity continued to pile on during his show the following hour.

“Wow, another great witness. Imagine carrying around that much hatred — that much resentment and anger every day of your life," he said. “Pretty sad, pretty pathetic, not good for the country, and frankly, House Democrats — they look really, really stupid. I didn't think you could outdo the Schiff show, but they did — for hauling that psychotic individual before congress. Case in point: At today's hearings, she made a pretty disgusting, repulsive joke about the president and Melania Trump's 13-year-old son.”


A day later, the attacks continued when “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade labeled Karlan an “embarrassment to her profession.”

Melania Trump and Fox News hosts were slammed for “fake outrage” on Twitter, as many pointed out that the comment was actually aimed at Barron’s father.


“Prof. Karlan wasn’t mocking Barron, she was explaining a legal point with an example. But coming from a woman who runs a Be Best campaign while her husband separates thousands of children from their parents with no plans to reunite them, this is just a sham argument,” wrote former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance.

Attorney George Conway, the husband of senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, called Karlan’s comment a “nothingburger.”

“So therefore you’re amplifying what was a nothingburger reference a hundred-thousand-fold,” he tweeted in response to Melania Trump. “Got it.”

“Oh give me a break, people. Karlan wasn't attacking Barron Trump, or making a joke at his expense, or dragging him into politics,” wrote former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “The mere mention of his name as a play on words to make a legitimate point is none of those things. You don't have to fall for every bad faith attack.”


Other Twitter users noted that “Melania Trump wasn’t thinking about Sasha and Malia Obama privacy when she was on networks spreading a racist birther lie,” while others suggested she extend her concern for minors to “migrant children that Donald Trump and his administration are putting in cages at the border.”

Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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