This presidential election has been marked by bigotry, misogyny and violent rhetoric. But one New Yorker is experiencing all of that more intensely, and intimately, than the rest of us.
Meet Julie Roginsky, liberal commentator, who goes to work at Fox News every day behind enemy lines.
Roginsky is a regular on "The Kelly File" with Megyn Kelly and appears several times a week on "Outnumbered," a noon-time show featuring four female pundits on a white couch. In the middle of the women sits a male guest (known as "one lucky guy") -- which is why the show is called "Outnumbered."
Except, in reality, most of the time it's not the guy who's outnumbered. It's Roginsky.
Much of Roginsky's life sounds like this moment from September, when she debated that show's "one lucky guy," retired Judge Alex Ferrer, about Donald Trump's announcement that President Obama was really born in the United States:
"All of the candidates change their minds," Ferrer says.
"Change their mind?!" Roginsky responds.
"They do it all the time..."
"No no no. Judge, judge, judge!...Stop, no, in 2011 he produced his birth certificate. As recently as 2014 and '15 Donald Trump was still pushing this discredited theory. What has changed?!"
"That was fun," she later said in an interview. "I’m not sure that interrupting each other allows people to hear what you’re saying, but that was not staged. I mean -- that was for real. There are certain things I feel really strongly about, and that’s one of them."
Roginsky, 43, was a political consultant when she got her start at Fox. In 2004, a friend couldn’t show up for his scheduled Sunday morning appearance on Fox and asked her to fill in. She was hooked. She loves the competition and the challenge of debating. And part of her role is simple fact-checking, like when she interrupted Eric Trump to say, no, his father did not come from nothing:
"He’s become the epitome of the American dream he’s gone from just about nothing into a man who..." Eric Trump says.
"Nothing?! He got a million bucks! Wait come on!" Roginsky replies.
"He’s built a…"
Roginsky, a single mom who lives on the Upper West Side, got her start working for New Jersey politicians. Most of her time is now spent as a consultant for corporate and political clients -- she is currently one of the chief architects of the New Jersey gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Phil Murphy.
But almost every day of this campaign, she's also on TV, smiling -- always smiling. And sparring -- always sparring -- with the conservatives on the couch.
"Is it emblematic of the polarization or feeding it?" Roginsky asked. "Probably a little of both. But the alternative is very dangerous, which is just a one-view culture. And you tune into who you want to tune into and you don't have a perspective about other people."
Experts say America is increasingly polarized, with our own partisan news sources and our echo chambers of similarly minded friends on Facebook. The Pew Research Center reports that 70 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans are actually afraid of the other side.
But Roginsky is most assuredly not afraid. And off air, Roginsky is actually friends with the conservatives she fights with, like Angela McGlowan, a Republican strategist. "I think people misunderstand when they see the two of us on TV together trying to prove a point, and really being pugnacious, that they don't understand these are two people who care about each other...[and also] care about the issues they’re talking about," Roginsky said.
That’s not a bad lesson for America. But when Fox goes to commercials, Roginsky checks her Twitter feed. And that’s when things get far uglier. Fox viewers tell her to go to hell. They tell her she’s dumb. They tell her she’s ugly and hates America, or that she’s hot but still hates America.
Roginsky is not bothered by these tweets from stranger trolls. "What they should know and what they’ll be disappointed to hear is we read a lot of their tweets during commercial breaks and laugh about them," she said.
Still, other online reaction to Roginsky is more unsettling, like a video on YouTube that begins with a normal clip of the show Outnumbered. On the segment Andrea Tantaros, one of the panelists, compliments Roginsky: "There are very few Dems who can take a joke and have fun like this on air and not go mope in the green room or cry. I tell you, you’re so much fun to have on the couch."
But then whoever uploaded this clip onto YouTube slows it down and zooms in on Julie's lower body. The tape then replays Roginsky slowly uncrossing and recrossing her legs. She's wearing a skirt, and this is apparently intended to catch a glimpse of her underwear. This effort is unsuccessful, but since the women on Outnumbered always wear skirts there are plenty of these videos online.
I told her the video has 2,582,134 views. "Are you kidding me?" She wasn't otherwise bothered, though. "I’m not grossed out by it. I’m not creeped out by it. I’m mystified by it," she said.
But while the Twitter anger and creepy videos may not rile her, Roginsky does have a tipping point. It came July 4th weekend, when Trump’s campaign retweeted a picture of a pile of cash with Hillary’s face superimposed on it next to a six-pointed star that looked like a Jewish Star of David. Roginsky went on the air a few nights later with Katrina Pierson, spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign:
"Katrina you sourced [the image] from a bunch of tweeters who have a history of anti-Semitism and horrible vile things that they say about Jews…"
"No. The media and the pundits are saying the source was an anti-Semitic..."
"Well where was the source?"
"Someone else used it on an anti-Semitic website."
"And you retweeted it?"
Roginsky is Jewish. A refugee from the Soviet Union, she has the steeliness of an immigrant who arrived in the Bronx at the age of 6. Her family had just $90, but they got work and collected public assistance before moving to New Jersey. Roginsky landed a scholarship to a private school in Princeton. Her family had achieved their version of the American dream.
But after this appearance on Fox with Trump’s spokeswoman, Roginsky was swarmed with anti-Semitic tweets. She was called a kike. There were pictures of her being shoved into ovens. Someone threatened to put a bullet through her “Jew spine." It reminded her of the way Jews were treated in Europe in the last century.
"It's troubling to me that you think you've come to a place where that's eradicated and it turns out it's not so eradicated," she said.
Roginsky found herself at the center of the darkness that plagues this presidential campaign -- an avatar for whatever misogynists and bigots want to demean. She has few defenders, neither on TV, where everyone else is conservative, nor on Twitter, where liberals, who generally aren't familiar with the commentators on Fox, have little idea she's fighting their fight.
Every day this election, Roginsky is outnumbered.