Interview Fetterman's Wife Did Last Year Comes Back to Bite as Husband Battles Depression


One does not wish to minimize the seriousness of Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman’s condition. Less than a year after suffering a serious stroke and just days after he felt symptoms of lightheadedness, prompting another hospital visit, the newly minted member of the upper chamber checked himself into the hospital last month for treatment of depression.

“While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,” said Fetterman chief of staff Adam Jentleson in a statement in February, according to The New York Times.

You would think that there would be no one who would have her husband’s back more than the senator’s wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman. And, at least rhetorically, you’d be right.

“After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John,” she wrote in an email to supporters. “It’s not easy for anyone to be open about mental health challenges. But I am so proud of him for asking for help and taking steps to get the care he needs.”

She added that “our family is in for some difficult days ahead, and we ask for your compassion on the path to recovery,” and added that she was “sad, and worried, as any wife and mother would be.”

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But notice I said that support was rhetorical — as in, with words, not deeds. Mrs. Fetterman made far more headlines by beelining off to a vacation in Canada with her children, according to PennLive.

“Fetterman recently explained on Twitter she and her kids left Pennsylvania for a family trip to Niagara Falls to get away from the media coverage surrounding her husband’s recovery at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.,” PennLive reported.

“I am not really sure how to navigate this journey but am figuring it out slowly. 1 week ago today when the news dropped, the kids were off from school and media trucks circled our home. I did the first thing I could think of … pack them in the car and drive,” she tweeted.

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“We drove straight into … Canada (and lovely Buffalo NY) (Pro Tip: always have passports ready just in case you have to run away) We talked about lots of hard things and how we will all have to face hard things. About the need to be gentle … with all and with ourselves.”

Her tweet included a picture with the quote, “Be gentle. Disease eventually ensnares all of us, when it happens to you, you’ll crave the same.”

This spurred an obvious question, however: Gentleness for whom?

Let’s back up a bit to December of 2022, after Fetterman — despite clear mental deficiencies from the stroke he suffered just before the Democratic primaries — won the election to be Pennsylvania’s next senator.

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The profile piece of Gisele Fetterman was published in the Washington Blade, a gay newspaper. (Gisele identifies as bisexual.)

Most of the piece was the usual kind of servile heroine-worship one might expect, but there was some curious stuff toward the end about how Gisele, at the very least, saw the balance of power in the relationship.

“There may be a dearth of kindness and empathy in Washington’s political circles, but there is certainly no shortage of self-aggrandizement or inflated egos,” the Blade reported.

“Here, too, she may be able to offer some guidance, given her habit of never taking herself too seriously or missing the opportunity for a self-deprecating joke (often directed at her husband).”

Leaving aside that it’s not self-deprecation if it isn’t deprecating one’s self, things actually get worse from there.

“She also shares photos on social media with her 6-foot-8 husband’s head partially cropped out so that her shoes are visible in the frame, and insists that their marriage operates with the unspoken understanding that Gisele is always right when there are differences of opinion,” the article continued.

“On that latter point, should anyone long for the same dynamic with their spouse or significant other, Gisele Fetterman offers the following advice: ‘You just have to be really confident in your truth,’ she said, adding, ‘then you just, like, ignore him when he’s speaking.'”

Not the truth, “your truth.” And if your spouse doesn’t acknowledge this, well, just ignore them.

This certainly garnered … attention:

That response, by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ aide Christina Pushaw, generated quite a bit of response on its own:

Others pointed out her misplaced priorities: “Her shoes are more important than his head In pictures, she is always right and she just ignores him. She is emasculating her husband one hour at a time. This isn’t a partnership. She has absolutely zero respect for him or his opinions,” one user tweeted.

“It’s really cheesy and lame to say your spouse is your best friend – but mine is. And while I do ignore him plenty (isn’t that nature?) it hurts his feelings when I do. If I was to publicly brag about that, literally cut him out of pics & taunt about it? It’s so devastatingly mean,” another said.

If it were merely Fetterman’s treatment for depression and this interview in a vacuum, this would be making a mountain out of a molehill. In this case, however, it’s definitely a mountain-to-mountain comparison.

Gisele Barreto Fetterman was in the senator’s inner circle when they pressed him to continue with his campaign despite the fact he was clearly not well — a campaign he would have lost, most likely, were it not for issues of candidate quality on the GOP side.

Then, when her husband is hospitalized for severe depression, what does she do? Pack up and go on vacation! I’m sure she sent a postcard.

And, by the way, Fetterman’s aide told the Times that the senator had a history of depression, albeit not severe. Did his wife not think that a humiliating interview like that just after his election — particularly as he was recovering from a stroke — was a poor idea?

I know conservatives do this too often, but flip the script: If Hillary were in the hospital for depression and Bill decided to go zip-lining in Tanzania, the hue and cry would be deafening — even if he didn’t bring a few pulchritudinous interns along or get there via Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express.”

He would be expected to be at his wife’s bedside — and the same expectation should be put upon Gisele Barreto Fetterman. I cannot diagnose John Fetterman or say what would be best for him in this situation, but I can’t imagine his wife fleeing the country while he was in the hospital for severe depression was a decision made on the doctors’ recommendations.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture