Who is Laura Ingraham? A look at the Fox News host whose 'quarantine camps' comments shocked NZ

Fox News host Laura Ingraham shocked Kiwis overnight by spouting off inaccurate comments about New Zealand's COVID-19 response.

On her show The Ingraham Angle, the 57-year-old said New Zealand has long been held up by the "American left and their media poodles" as a model for how to deal with COVID-19.

"Anyone who loves freedom should take note," she told viewers, "because the Kiwis have a terrifying new response to rising COVID case numbers: they are throwing people into quarantine camps".

Besides the fact that New Zealand has dwindling COVID-19 numbers and hasn't seen a single community case in about a week, Ingraham's comments lack context, such as that the camps are actually a lavish hotel, the facilities have been used for months, they are primarily for returning Kiwis to isolate in and people are only required to stay on if they refuse to be tested.

The facilities are used also for community cases to limit the chance of the virus spreading within households, but other cases have also been allowed to isolate in alternative arrangements. 

So who is this Fox News host whose stunned New Zealand?

Born in 1963, Ingraham grew up in the US state of Connecticut. She went on to graduate from the University of Virginia with a law degree in 1991 after a stint working in the White House under the Ronald Reagan administration. 

She was a law clerk for several high-profile judges, including for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, before moving to New York to be an attorney. 

In the late '90s, Ingraham got her first job as a television host for MSNBC, but would soon change to radio, launching The Laura Ingraham Show in 2001. It would go on to be one of the top radio shows in the US.

After periods hosting other radio and television shows, she became the host of The Ingraham Angle on Fox in 2017.

Her Fox News profile description reads: "Laura Ingraham cuts through the Washington chatter by speaking directly with unexpected voices and the actual people who are impacted by the news of the day."

OXON HILL, MD, UNITED STATES - 2018/02/23: Laura Ingraham, American radio host, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) sponsored by the American Conservative Union held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

Like many of her Fox News colleagues, Ingraham is well-known for her conservative, pro-Trump views and was amongst the first to endorse the then-Republican candidate for President.

The mother of three adopted children, Ingraham has been described as a "name-brand provocateur" by Politico, while a profile of the broadcaster by the New York Times says she's an "ardent nationalist" and a "foe of open borders".

"She wants to represent the working-class, populist sensibility that is the beating heart of the Republican Party right now," the piece from 2017 says.

At college, Ingraham was the editor of the The Dartmouth Review and infamously sent a reporter undercover to a "gay students' alliance" meeting. In an article written afterwards, people who attended the meeting were named and called "sodomites".

She would later write a piece for The Washington Post about why she made the call for the piece to go ahead.

"We wanted to find out how student funds were being spent and to demonstrate the double-standard Dartmouth had created by funding the group. But in doing so, we adopted a purposefully outrageous tone."

In the op-ed, she speaks about her brother, who is gay and has reportedly called Ingraham a "monster", and how her views on homosexuality "have been tempered".

"Not because Curtis proselytizes on gay rights, but because I have seen him and his companion, Richard, lead their lives with dignity, fidelity and courage."

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20:  Political talk radio host Laura Ingraham delivers a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

During an interview in 2013, she expressed support for civil unions between same-sex partners, but believed marriage should be between a man and woman. 

Over the last year, while the COVID-19 pandemic has raged, she has supported Trump's push for hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus.

After Ingraham's latest controversial comments, social media users quickly came to New Zealand's defence.

"Imagine mocking one of the handful of countries that actually has had almost 100 percent control of the virus," said one person.

"New Zealand is back to packed sports stadiums. They have made it work," a third person said. "The people aren't conflicted. They have, together, overcome this."