NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Brian Kilmeade hosts "FOX & Friends" at Fox News ...
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Fox News Host Questioned Whether Pregnant Women Should Be Given "Important" Jobs

Even his co-host shot him down.

On Thursday, political commentator and Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned why a pregnant woman should be given an “important” job. While he was referring specifically to the appointment of Nina Jankowicz as the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Disinformation Governance Board, his statements were general, prompting mild chastisement from his co-host.

In April, Jankowicz was named to the newly formed Disinformation Governance Board, whose goal is to provide guidance to DHS agencies on combating foreign misinformation and disinformation, including in areas to safeguard against human trafficking and election interference. Author of two books – How to Lose the Information War and How to Be a Woman Online – Jankowicz was previously a fellow at the Wilson Center, advised the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry as part of her Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship, and oversaw Russia and Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute. While she has been criticized by politicians on the right as a “leftist radical” (mainly for criticisms of former President Trump and unproven allegations about Hunter Biden’s laptop), DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised her on CNN as “eminently qualified, a renowned expert in the field of disinformation” and “absolutely” neutral.

And yet her qualifications did not shield her from criticisms from Kilmeade, a father of three with a long record of making sexist comments on the air, suggesting that she should not have been given the job. Introducing the Board as poorly rolled out, Kilmeade turned his attention to Jankowicz in particular.

Fox’s Kilmeade criticized Jankowicz’s ability to do her job effectively as a pregnant person.

“Then we find out who’s in charge of it. This woman that’s in charge of it, Nina Jankowicz, who’s about eight and a half months pregnant,” he begins. “So I'm not sure how you get a job and then you just — you can't do a job for three months. I'm not faulting her, but I don't know why you would give someone a job that you think is so important.”

“How long has she had this job?” interjects his co-host, Ainsley Earhardt. When he answers that it appears to have been about two months, Earhardt replied, chuckling. “Well, I'll defend her on that one, Brian. She has the right to have a baby and have maternity leave.”

Social media users, including on Twitter, were also quick to voice their displeasure at Kilmeade’s statements, with many juxtaposing the idea that a pregnant woman shouldn’t be given a job with the recent leak showing that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and end women’s right to have an abortion at the federal level.

“In case you’re wondering what the end game is here,” tweeted feminist author Jessica Valenti.

“So pregnant women shouldn't be hired for work,” observed Twitter user @HelenKPDem. “But, if they stay home, they shouldn't be compensated, but if they terminate a pregnancy they should be charged with murder, but if they don't and they can't afford to have a baby, cause, no job, then they should go hungry. Right?”

And yet not all criticism came from those left of center. Lawyer and senior advisor to the Donald Trump presidential campaign A.J. Delgado tweeted, “Pregnancy discrimination folks — it’s everywhere, sadly.”

While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring and firing (as well as pay, job assignments, benefits, and more), a study from the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that pregnancy discrimination is an ongoing issue that is often difficult to prove. It found that many women are fired basically as soon as they reveal their pregnancy to an employer and that pregnancy discrimination during the hiring process is even more difficult to prove and legally pursue. The research also found that pregnancy discrimination is particularly prevalent in male dominated fields.

Jankowicz has not spoken on Kilmeade’s comments or, indeed, on whether she would take maternity leave or for how long.