Karina Lipsman, the Republican nominee challenging Rep. Don Beyer, the Democrat representing Virginia's 8th Congressional District, is a historic candidate. She won her party's nomination last month on the first round ballot with close to 62 percent of the vote. She's also Ukrainian-born, making her the first refugee immigrant to be nominated and the second woman the Republican Party has nominated. Instead of focusing on such historic aspects, however, Michael Lee Pope of Alexandria Gazette
In his piece from May 18, "Taking on Beyer," Pope began in part by pointing out that "On the campaign trail, the G.O.P. candidates are calling for a prominent public health official to be jailed..." Pope also highlighted Lipsman's comment further in the piece when profiling her:
...During a recent candidates forum, she called for the detention of the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci.
"Fauci should be jailed. We all know that," said Lipsman, prompting applause during a recent meeting of the Alexandria City Republican Committee. "We should do our own research."
Pope then sought to connect Lipsman to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), despite Lipsman having no connection to the two Republican House members.
On May 25, Pope followed up with another piece, "'Fauci Should Be Jailed,'" not long after Lipsman won the nomination. Most of the piece was a re-hash of his previous article, including references to Reps. Greene and Cawthorn. Pope also included comment from those emphasizing how heavily Democratic the district is and seeking to diminish Lipsman's chances, though he did mention Lipsman was one of two immigrants who sought the nomination.
He also cited Chris Braunlich, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute, pointing to how Lipsman, as well as Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares, "represent the new face of America and of conservatism." Pope added that "Braunlich says the selection of immigrants from the Soviet Union and Vietnam are a repudiation of the narrative from the left that conservatives are 'anti-immigrant.'"
Last Thursday, Pope wrote yet another piece "Fauci Flip Flop," published on June 2. In it, Pope included a written statement from Lipsman, something he did not do in his previous pieces.
As this most recent piece begins:
Republican congressional candidate Karina Lipsman is trying to walk back her comment that President Biden's chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci "should be jailed," a position she took during a time when she was battling four competitors to get the nomination to run in the Eighth Congressional District. Now that she has secured the nomination in a GOP convention, she is flip flopping on Fauci. In a written statement, she says she no longer stands by the extreme rhetoric that Fauci should be incarcerated even though he has never been charged with a crime.
"I do not believe Dr. Fauci should be jailed," said Lipsman in a written statement. “I do believe Dr. Fauci, and every other government official involved, need to be held to account for the actions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc on our economy, our children and our country.”
Lipsman says many people are currently suffering from mental health issues and drug addictions because of the “forced lockdowns.” She describes data on covid mitigation efforts as ”contrary to previous messaging from our government.” Ultimately, she says that she wants to go to Congress to hold government officials accountable.
"We should expect our elected representatives to ask the hard questions of those in power and demand answers,” she said in the written statement .
Through her campaign manager, Lipsman declined several requests to be interviewed for this story.
Pope also portrayed Lipsman as flip-flopping and moderating her stance now that she has secured the nomination by citing several political scientists, as well as statements from the Beyer campaign and from Victoria Virasingh, The Squad-backed candidate challenging Rep. Beyer in the Democratic primary later this month. Yet again, Pope mentioned Reps. Green and Cawthorn.
Despite Pope's focus on how Lipsman had flip-flopped, the remark was not serious and had been meant as an applause line, which it did earn.
In a statement to Townhall, the campaign clarified that Lipsman was never serious that Dr. Fauci should be incarcerated without a criminal charge and a conviction. "Having grown up under Soviet rule in Ukraine, Ms. Lipsman directly witnessed media and government collusion, where free speech was punished, and many rights were taken away from citizens. As an American citizen, Ms. Lipsman does not believe anyone should be incarcerated without due process as the campaign previously communicated," her campaign said.
The Lipsman campaign also sent Townhall the statement they had sent Pope, as well as evidence of an email chain between Pope and Brian Johnson, Lipsman's campaign manager, revealing a back and forth of constantly changing schedules for Lipsman and Johnson to talk.
"Through her campaign manager, Lipsman declined several requests to be interviewed for this story," his June 2 piece read. Pope's piece from May 25 makes no mention of trying to reach Lipsman or anyone from her campaign.
Lipsman also provided Townhall with a statement about this line of attack from a local reporter. "It's a disservice to the readers to solely obsess on reporting polarizing topics and a throw away one-liner feeding the already divisive culture wars in our society. We need to focus on civility and respect and unite our country, especially in these difficult times," she said.
"I would like to think the media's role is to report on facts to educate the public on real issues not push a personal agenda. I’m saddened that out of more than a 90-minute candidate forum covering various policies from inflation to public safety, the reporter chose to obsess over a single phrase," Lipsman added when it comes to Pope's focus on that single remark.
She also spoke about her experience as an immigrant and the kinds of conditions she lived under in the former Soviet Union. "I have lived under an oppressive regime where the media was controlled by a single entity and propaganda was everywhere including children’s cartoons. This particular incident hit a bit too close to home for me and it’s important to highlight how some reporters continue to push a clearly partisan agenda. As an immigrant refugee, I have personally lived and experienced an oppressive regime and the impacts that come along with it to a society," Lipsman said.
"The one which stands out the most is propaganda and controlled speech. I do not take these freedoms for granted. We are so fortunate in America to be able to exercise our freedom of speech. However, reporting on a convenient one-liner, is not news - it's a disservice to our country, our citizens, and most importantly delivering real news that matters to the people."
Townhall spoke with Lipsman last week in a deep-dive interview, which did touch upon coverage from local media and what Lipsman hopes and expects.
"My hope is that everyone would want to fairly represent, especially the media, fairly represent the candidates," she said, as that would be "allowing readers and voters to get an insight into who this person is and is it the right person for them, who they want representing them in Congress. And so I think, you know, journalism and news media is a very integral part of our lives, because that's what people pay attention to. And so the fairness in media I think could be a little better here in the 8th District, that's been very unfortunate for me because I've dealt with people in the media who unfortunately think that their mission is their mission and their voice is the only one that voters want to hear versus actually hearing from the candidate themselves and giving the candidate a fair chance to really explain where they stand on things," she said.