Analysis: Why Are GOP Women Lying about E. Jean Carroll, Brigitte Macron and Michelle Obama?

GOP women from left, Katie Britt, Nancy Mace and Candace Owens
From left, Katie Britt, Nancy Mace and Candace Owens. (Photos: Wikimedia Commons)

It’s been an awkward few days for women leaders in the Republican party. Katie Britt, Nancy Mace and Candace Owens all made headlines, but not the ones they hoped for. A week ago the last seemingly rational GOP woman, Nikki Haley, exited the Republican primary after Super Tuesday voters chose Donald Trump over Haley by about 3 to 1. The March 12 primaries in Georgia secured the respective party nominations for Donald Trump and President Biden.

Katie Britt

Katie Britt smiles and is wearing a pink shirt and necklace.
Katie Britt. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

When Alabama Sen. Katie Britt delivered the GOP rebuttal to Biden’s barn-burner of a State of the Union address, she couldn’t have known that two days later, her disastrously ill-thought out and badly delivered speech would become fodder for Oscar-winning actress Scarlett Johansson to parody on the cold open of “Saturday Night Live,” but these are the times we live in now. 

At 42, Britt is the youngest GOP senator — only Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff is younger at 37 — and considered a rising star in Republican politics. Prior to that speech, she was allegedly short-listed for Trump’s VP slot. But Britt’s trad wife-cum-Handmaid’s Tale rendition of motherhood from her disturbingly barren kitchen table was both over-acted and, as it turns out, a total lie. 

With her diamond cross glinting at her throat, Britt talked about how hard it is for families like hers to get by in the Biden economy. This all said from Britt’s massive kitchen and said knowing her former NFL star husband is a millionaire.

But it was Britt’s harrowing tale of a 12-year-old trafficking victim being raped daily due, she said, to “Biden’s border policies” that allowed for this to happen that caught everyone’s attention. 

Britt said, “I traveled to the Del Rio sector of Texas. That’s where I spoke to a woman who shared her story with me. She had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12. She told me not just that she was raped every day, but how many times a day she was raped….This is the United States of America…..President Biden’s border policies are a disgrace.” 

Britt added, “The free world deserves better than a dithering and diminished leader.”

That harrowing story was Karla Jacinto’s. But that survivor about whom Britt spoke, never met with Britt. What’s more, her story happened 20 years ago in Mexico during the Bush administration when Britt herself was in college.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Britt’s “misleading use of an anecdote on sex trafficking to attack Pres. Biden’s record on border security in her response to his State of the Union address.”

Buttigieg said, “I’ll leave it to her to explain the falsehoods.”

Nancy Mace

Nancy Mace smiles and wears a black shirt.
Nancy Mace. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Britt would have remained in the news cycle for at least another week if South Carolina’s rising star Rep. Nancy Mace hadn’t said “hold my beer!” on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. There, she was asked how she could support Trump, a rapist, when she herself is a rape survivor — something she has spoken about extensively in recent years while asserting that all anti-abortion laws must have exceptions for rape and incest — a position that has found some Democrats mistaking her for an ally. Stephanopoulos is not one of them.

“Donald Trump has been found liable for rape by a jury. Donald Trump has been found liable for defaming the victim of that rape by a jury. It’s been affirmed by a judge,” Stephanopoulos said while asking Mace about her endorsement.

Mace argued that the civil findings against Trump in Carroll’s case should not be taken the same way as a criminal conviction. “It was not a criminal court case, number 1. Number. 2, I live with shame. And you’re asking me a question about my political choices trying to shame me as a rape victim,” Mace told Stephanopoulos.

“It’s actually not about shaming you. It’s a question about Donald Trump,” Stephanopoulos said.

Mace said that Trump wasn’t a rapist and also that his victim, E. Jean Carroll, was not raped. That gross statement drew outrage across social media as Mace had said civil rape cases aren’t valid — which is both false and also ignores how few rape cases ever come to trial. 

On Fox News’s “The Faulkner Focus,” Mace said, “George Stephanopoulos tried to bully me and shame me as a rape survivor over my support for Donald Trump, which is insane to me, because he wasn’t found guilty of rape anywhere.”

In point of fact, the judge in Trump’s sexual assault case, Lewis A. Kaplan, said otherwise, stating in his response to Trump’s request for a new trial that “Yes, Trump was found to have raped E. Jean Carroll. The finding that Ms. Carroll failed to prove that she was ‘raped’ within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape,’” Kaplan wrote.

He added: “Indeed, as the evidence at trial recounted below makes clear, the jury found that Mr. Trump in fact did exactly that.”

Trump was also found liable for defaming Carroll, with a jury awarding her $83.3 million in damages. Trump posted a $91 million bond for that last week as he appeals the verdict. 

On Tuesday Nancy Mace called on Trump to sue Stephanopoulos for “rape-shaming” her, but Trump has not responded.

Candace Owens

Candace Owens looks to her right. She is wearing a black blazer and white button down shirt.
Candace Owens. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Podcaster and GOP internet influencer Candace Owens, 34, is one of the Black conservatives Trump has embraced even as he continues to make racist comments about Black people at his rallies. Owens says, “I became a conservative overnight … I realized that liberals were actually the racists,” which is the message Trump wants to project.

Her myriad social media accounts have more than 15 million followers, so Owens’s voice is heard by many. But that voice is loudly homophobic and transphobic. Owens’s popular YouTube channel has been suspended repeatedly for her anti-LGBTQ+ statements, most recently last September when Owens said that “LGBTQ+ people” once represented a “small subset of people who were perhaps molested” but there are now more due to “social contagion.” A YouTube spokesperson told watchdog group Media Matters, “We issued a strike to the Candace Owens Podcast channel for violating our hate speech policy, which prohibits content promoting hatred against protected individuals or groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.”

On March 12, Candace Owens launched a new anti-LGBTQ narrative: that France’s First Lady Brigitte Macron is a man. On Twitter/X she posted about her latest podcast.

“This episode is blowing up so I just want to say—After looking into this, I would stake my entire professional reputation on the fact that Brigitte Macron is in fact a man. Any journalist or publication that is trying to dismiss this plausibility is immediately identifiable as establishment.” 

She continued, “I have never seen anything like this in my life. The implications here are terrifying. I do not intend to let up on this story and I am calling on other journalists to look into this explosive story and report accordingly.” 

Owens put #JeanMichelTrogneux — the name of the “man” she claims Mrs. Macron actually is. 

Then she posted her podcast episode on this.

The replies to this latest antigay and anti-trans narrative are full of claims that former First Lady Michelle Obama is a man and former President Barack Obama is gay. That long-touted GOP rumor was revived again last month at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) on several panels. Far-right extremist Alex Jones has promoted that message for years. “Michelle Obama is transgender, we all know it.” Jones claims he has “proof” the former First Lady is a man. The Infowars host says pictures of pleats in the former First Lady’s dresses show she has a penis.

Politifact addressed the Obama story again back in September noting, “New supposed evidence that former First Lady Michelle Obama is a man is anything but” and rating it “pants on fire.”

Jones was quick to promote Owens’s latest story on his Twitter/X account to his millions of followers.“TOP STORY: The French President’s Wife May Be A Man, Candace Owens Investigates.”

The Obamas have never responded to the GOP rumors about Michelle Obama, but on Wednesday, Macron did respond to the rumors about his wife after the story made international headlines. “The worst thing is the false information and fabricated scenarios,” said Macron. “People eventually believe them and disturb you, even in your intimacy.” He denied the rumor, and said it was a “case of the typical misogyny women experience on the internet.”As the race for the White House heats up, women’s votes are the most coveted. GOP women will have to do much better than defaming rape victims, lying about women who have been victims of trafficking and using the GOP’s fall-back position of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric to win voters. But it doesn’t make these stories and how many people believe them any less troubling — and potentially dangerous — for the people in their crosshairs.

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