One day, Katie Hill was a media-savvy 31-year-old congresswoman from a swing district in California who’d arrived in Washington and immediately found herself in the House leadership. A few months later, she was a piñata for the conservative media—her life in tatters, her office resigned, her challengers delighted.
Like so many of the women villainized by the right, Hill’s story is complicated—and hers more so because it has elements of #Metoo in the form of a relationship with a staffer. The circus that followed involved an unsurprising cast of rightwing operatives, personal photos, and an angry husband. For the conservative media ecosystem in the age of Trump, it was the perfect storm, a chance to take down a swing-district Democrat by weaponizing the most sensitive aspects of her personal life against her, nearly driving her to suicide, as she shared in a New York Times op-ed Sunday.
When we spoke at a busy breakfast restaurant in midtown Manhattan on a Saturday morning, she dressed casually. Probably one of the most telegenic young members of congress, one can see how she ended up featured on Vice News and in the movie Bringing Down the House. Hill spoke of her experience clearly. She told me some of how she’d found herself pushed into that dark state of mind in the first place. Katie Hill’s story begins with, as she tells it, her soon to be ex-husband, Kenny Heslep.