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October 23rd, 2012
07:05 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Voter's equal pay question leads to smear campaign

Katherine Fenton had no idea she was going to be called on in the second presidential debate to ask a question. She also never predicted her question would prompt such a firestorm from conservatives.

Within minutes, her Facebook page and Twitter feed were raided by conservative bloggers and commentators looking to dig up anything they could on this 24-year-old pre-kindergarten teacher from Long Island, New York.

Why? Katherine Fenton’s question was about equal pay for women in the workplace. She asked President Obama and Governor Romney what they planned to do to rectify the situation. Obama talked about his signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

Mr Romney’s response included the now overplayed “binders full of women” comment. Maybe that’s what got conservatives so heated?

What would drive them to start writing about comments she’d made on Twitter about getting “wet” at happy hour and drinking “purple joose” until she blacked out? What does that have to do with politics? Or was it about trying to harm her reputation because she asked a question about the gender pay gap which conservatives often play down?

This is a young woman with a master’s degree, who teaches in Queens, New York. She actually comes from a family of conservatives, and is a registered Independent who voted for John McCain in 2008. She didn’t have any sort of agenda, she says, as some conservatives have suggested. Is this what politics has come to? Does it have to be this dirty? This ugly?

Katherine told me her comments on Twitter had been taken out of context and they were “inside jokes” between friends. She actually disabled her account just so her critics wouldn’t have any more ammunition.

The thing about this is that Katherine is still uncommitted and unsure who she will vote for on November 6. She said the attacks from the right actually made her not want to align herself with them and pushed her closer to picking President Obama.

She won’t let those voices determine who she votes for but she was definitely turned off. And after watching the third debate, she admits she isn’t any closer to choosing her candidate.

You can hear more of Katherine’s response to her critics tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

Follow Randi Kaye on Twitter. 

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Filed under: 2012 Election
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Rebecca

    You go girl!

    October 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  2. bob Conti

    Guess no one wants to be honest on this station -

    October 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  3. Peggy

    It is disgraceful that in a country where free speech is touted as one of most treasured rights, a simple and straightforward question asked by Ms. Fenton can turn so ugly and mean. What's even more ironic is that the very people who are attacking her so mercilessly are often the the very ones who would scream the loudest if they were treated with similar cruelty and intolerance, not to mention defend to the death the rights of others to speak freely. The only things they seem to be lacking are pitchforks and torches. Unbelievable.

    October 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  4. Lilly

    Katherine Fenton asked a very good question and is now the subject of nasty comments by the republicans. What I don't understand about her is how she can be undecided about who to vote for. Women's pay is a minor problem compared to what will happen should Romney become president. We'll lose everything that we have fought for. I am honestly afraid of what this man would do.

    October 23, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  5. Claire Dendy

    CNN has always been my source for news but Erin (who I initially liked) is obviously Romney biased. I might a well watch Fox

    October 23, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  6. bob Conti

    How is it Obama sits there in the first debate is mum and doesn't argue and is label not right for the job?
    And Romney sits there in the third debate is mum and actually agrees with the President and is labeled great?
    Something is wrong with this reporting and the sham should be corrected

    October 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  7. Kris

    How low can you go? Is this not cyber bullying from adults? Sad that they even attack their own, because Romney made himself look like a fool & couldn't answer the question intelligently? I hope Obama addresses the issue of internet bullying... I hope this would not happen in Canada?

    October 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  8. Dave C

    Absolutely disgusting. Is this really how conservatives want to be seen when it comes to those who voice things that they do not like? Is Katherine going to become another Sandra just because she had the spine to stand up and voice her concerns and ask questions about issues that affect her life? No war on women, conservatives? What do you call this?

    October 23, 2012 at 8:50 pm |