Sometimes, foresight is also 20/20.

Geraldo and Brian Kilmeade Play Lingerie Football

 

Me, after spending an evening watching FOX News in June of 2012:

I’d like to take a moment to discuss FOX’s gender-related hotness disparity.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, all women appearing on FOX shows seem to be required to be young, attractive, fake blondes that have that car-show model look. There are some exceptions, but those are the occasional young attractive ethnic car-show women and as such are allowed to simply forgo the fake-blonde. Men appearing on FOX, on the other hand, are allowed to look like Dick Morris. I’m really curious: to what extent is this an actual programming policy, and to what extent is it simply that whoever is in charge of these things has a thing for young, attractive, fake blondes that have that car-show model look? I assume it has to be the latter. I mean, you wouldn’t actually have a policy about something like that – right?

And this makes me wonder about the women that work at FOX: Does this ever creep them out? I’m sure they love their jobs, and can’t imagine any of them ever speaking in public about this. But it’s hard to believe there aren’t these tiny moments when they sometimes get home after a long day’s work, have a glass of wine, and unload on their husbands or boyfriends that the hiring guy keeps finding reasons to come around and talk to them in a way that makes them want to take a shower.

The Washington Post, last month:

Interviews with four of those women portray the 76-year-old television powerhouse as a man who could be routinely crude and inappropriate, ogling young women, commenting about their breasts and legs, and fostering a macho, insensitive culture. Three of the women were speaking about their allegations for the first time, including a 2002 Fox News intern who says Ailes grabbed her buttocks, and a Fox News employee who says Ailes touched her and tried to kiss her against her will at his office in 2004…

“Suddenly, he grabbed me and kissed me,” [a Fox employee] told The Washington Post. “I froze. I just didn’t know what to do. I think I had just gotten my first kiss from my boyfriend, so I didn’t know what to do. I just froze.”

The woman said Ailes told her: “I need you to be receptive. We only hire girls who are cooperative.”
“Generally, women accept that at Fox you are expected to wear skirts [and] dresses and that the makeup people are going to slather it on and make you look like a bimbo,” said a former frequent guest commentator. One time, the former commentator said, higher-ups at the network reprimanded makeup artists for putting her on-air without false eyelashes, even though she hated wearing them.

CNNMoney, today:

Fox has reached a $20 million settlement deal with Gretchen Carlson, the anchorwoman who sued Roger Ailes alleging harassment and retaliation in July.

The company also publicly apologized to Carlson in a highly unusual statement on Tuesday morning.

“We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve,” Fox said.

The eight-figure deal is likely to have consequences across corporate America.

In private, 21st Century Fox has also completed settlement deals with a “handful” of other women who accused Ailes of harassing behavior, a person briefed on the matter said Tuesday.

Yup.

 

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Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular contributor for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter. ...more →

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47 thoughts on “Sometimes, foresight is also 20/20.

  1. Ive always had similar thoughts when I’ve watched Fox News but I think there are really two seperate things going on here. The first is the sexual harassment and coercion. To the extent the accusations have merit Ailes and Fox deserve whatever settlements, lawsuits, and sanctions they’re hit with.

    The second issue I think is more complicated. We mostly talk about Fox News for its political conservatism but Fox News is also tabloid newstainment. Part of its appeal is to titillate the viewer with exploitative crime coverage and sexual innuendo. The pretty reporters are part of what they’re selling. Now, those reporters should not be subject to illegal harassment on the job, and if the behind the scene stories are true Fox sounds like a pretty creepy place to work. However, I also wonder if there aren’t plenty who are in on the game. Megan Kelly has been notably silent through all this. I struggle to believe that many female reporters ever mistook that place for a ‘serious’ news outlet and were subsequently shocked to discover they were just part of the window dressing.

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      • I do think it would be interesting to see that as well. I’m still not sure it would be as insightful as we’d like. Any intern with goals of being on TV one day has to know that looks matter, and unfair as it is, there’s a much higher standard for women most of the time. All speculation but it might end up saying more about our culture generally than Fox News in particular.

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        • I probably should have been clearer: I mean the people who have no ambition to be on screen. Camera people, makeup artists, assistants, janitors. Those folks. The ones for whom looks should have zero bearing on their job. If we are still seeing the discrepancy… hot blonde cleaning ladies working alongside stumpy old guys… we’re probably onto something.

          Unless everyone in the building harbors that dream but just takes what they can get… which wouldn’t shock me to find out it was true.

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        • Interns, yes. An intern by definition is there as a stepping stone to other things, and being an on-air personality is a likely goal for many. But what about Phyllis in Accounting and Britney in HR? Are they hot, too?

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          • Well, Britney and Phyllis have to wear skirts and heels. As to their hotness, let me quote When Harry Met Sally

            Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
            Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
            Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too.

            And if you’re Roger Ailes, you don’t let things like manners or consideration or propriety get in your way.

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                • That’s an unusually good working of the topic. Thanks for the link. That being said, there are some variants it misses. For my older kid, we aimed for traditional-but-not-too-common, ending up with “Rebecca.” This is somewhat like option 1 of going timeless, in that it is a thoroughly traditional name. But it is also somewhat like option 3 of going a little weird in that while it is timeless, it isn’t terribly common. But it is unlike option 3 in that it isn’t actually weird. It is simply a normal name that not a whole lot of other people have.

                  For the younger spawn, we went with the Traditional Family Name, in this case “Margaret.” This is kind of orthogonal to timeless/weird. In this particular instance the traditional family name is timeless, but a traditional male name on my mother’s side is “Dabney.” Fortunately, mom did not inflict that on any of us.

                  The essay also missed the utility of the middle name. If you are concerned that your kid will be constrained by a boring name, offer up a weird middle name. No harm ever comes from a weird middle name. We expect middle names to be embarrassing. And if the kid in later life concludes to let the freak flag fly, there is that weird name already there. Or, if you insist on a weird first name, add a bog normal middle name. No one need know that “S. Mary Jones” is actually named “Sunshine.”

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                  • The middle name can definitely add a twist. My wife’s not-particularly-unusual Western first name combined with my top-ten common last name and her fairly common Vietnamese middle name makes for a three name combination that appears to be unique on Google. Some professional stuff, some academic/research stuff, but all records for her.

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                  • We based middle names on Zazzy’s family who passed. So the first born (“Mayo”) got the name of her uncle who died several years earlier: “James”.

                    “Little Marcus Allen” got a three-syllable first name we really liked. He then got the middle name of her uncle who died between the boys’ births: “Donald”.

                    The thing is, their last name has three syllables. So LMA has an eight syllable name while Mayo has a six syllable name. Which makes a real difference. Mayo’s first/middle name also combo really well for initials (OJ). LMA’s… not so much. But dems da breaks, I guess.

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                    • Also… nicknames.

                      One of Mayo’s is Obo Jobo. It randomly arose through a complicated process of me being a moron. Anyway, sometimes I just call him Joe.

                      But Joe is not any of his names. Not even close. So sometimes we’ll be in public and I’ll say, “Come on, Joe.” And people will say, “Aw, hi Joe.” And then we have that awkward moment of me saying, “Oh… his name isn’t Joe. At all.”

                      It is weird to nickname your kid a real name that isn’t his name. But, again, a complicated process of me being a moron.

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    • I think your tabloid observation is largely right. News has become another form of entertainment in this country. I don’t watch cable news but the few times I have watched it, the networks seem to repeat stories every hour or two. This makes me feel that there is not enough content to justify 24 hour news networks.

      The average Fox News voter does not strike me as being prim and easily shocked Church Lady conservative but the kind of Archie Bunker loudmouth. Trump’s great insight is that a lot of right-wing voters can also be party hard types who want the “good life” and titilation. They waht the line about “Money for Nothing and your chicks for free” from Dire Straits to be their life.

      I suspect that the Fox News female anchor was both because of Alies fetishes and a marketing decision

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    • This piece, though long, gives a bit more insight into Megyn Kelly’s thread through this. She managed to establish a more professional relationship with Ailes, which is to say she managed to put off his advances without alienating him. Probably because she was so good at certain on-air things, and the ratings were good.

      But she was instrumental in getting other women to come forward with their stories, and hit Ailes publicly at basically just the right time. She is probably going to be the heart and soul of Fox News going forward.

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  2. I call it “lip smacking prudery”, that tabloid combination of leering lewdness, with a layer of righteous indignation to give it plausible deniability.

    And it really does seem to me to be aimed with a laser focus at middle aged family men who want to leer at naked women, but be ostentatiously outraged at it.

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  3. Is it possible that Fox News is a difference in degree than a difference in kind? Or maybe that Fox’s case the difference in degree was elevated to a difference in kind?

    Everyone from Don Henley to Will Farrell has commented that local TV news, esp small market stations, are filled with ex Apple Blossom queens and ex high school football stars, where the main qualifications for both genders are a passing attempt at conventionally good looking and the ability to read English while staring into an electronic eye.

    Even Gretchen Carlson’s former cow-orkers, Doocey and Kilmeade, are telegenic at close enough to the usual Lauer/Williams standard and vacuous to the Roomba one. (But one at least has the sense to leverage their position to good old fashioned nepotism for their progeny)

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    • When it comes to the appearances stuff I think that’s absolutely correct. Fox News takes all of the weird foibles and pathologies of tv news up a few notches (or a bit further down the sewer, depending on how you look at it) but it’s not like the female reporters on CNN or the local news don’t also tend to be conventionally attractive.

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  4. to what extent is this an actual programming policy, and to what extent is it simply that whoever is in charge of these things has a thing for young, attractive, fake blondes that have that car-show model look? I assume it has to be the latter. I mean, you wouldn’t actually have a policy about something like that – right?

    Not a policy, no. More like a wink-wink “policy”, so in that sense I disagree. Still you deserve credit for identifying an underlying motive for populating the studio with YAFBs: Aisles’ personal predilections. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to see thru the gauze that far. I’m not sure that I am even now, tho, to be honest. I still think YAFBs were more sauce than entre, and I also think that conservatism itself is still – at least in part – stuck in the good ole days good ole boys club, where what you and I view as men sexually harassing women is viewed as good ole boys just being boys. And Fox News management (and content, too) unapologetically acted on that premise right up until the time they had to apologize for it.

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  5. Well, folks, something very important just happened. In addition to all this Fox shakeup. Something else important.

    Remember how I occasionally come forward with my crazy idea that we can stop ~90% of crime by having people voluntarily record themselves and their interactions with others?

    Tada.

    $20 million dollars. *INSTANTLY*. In a sexual harassment case. Sounds absurd. Fox just *caved*, utterly and completely, because there was no weaseling around the evidence.

    And yes, this has been happening for a while now…but this just made all the headlines. And a hundred thousand women just read this and said ‘Holy crap. My boss does the same thing…where’s the record button on this thing? And what’s my company’s market cap…’.

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      • You’re exactly right. Different jurisdictions have different rules about when, where, and how you can record people. For example, try it on the telephone in a state like Maryland and you find out the hard way about all party consent wiretapping laws (I believe Linda Tripp ran afoul of these in a rather famous episode).

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        • Actually, oddly, in Maryland, you have to *know* it’s illegal to wiretap before getting charged with it. So it’s sorta best if you just do it without talking to a lawyer. (And clear your browser history, because I just told you.)

          Additionally, there is no fruit-of-a-poisonous tree doctrine for personally-gathered evidence. Even if the evidence was gathered illegally, you can still use it in a lawsuit. If the max fine is $100,000, and you’re suing them for $10 million…hey, go for it. Heck, might be worth even some jail time.

          Of course, there are some easy ways around this. The easiest is doing it somewhere there’s no expectation of privacy:

          Women: Ask your boss to meet you at a motel. Tell him a specific room number but meet him *outside* it, with the door locked, where you explain you’ll go through with it one time if he can promise you’ll get a promotion, but you want him to give his word that it’s just one time and you won’t be expected to keep repeating it, unless you want another promotion.

          He’ll either agree, or he’ll explain that you will do this as much as he wants.

          And he just did it in a motel parking lot, where there’s no legal expectation of privacy. Oops.

          Added bonus: At *that* point, when you have his confession, blow him off by claiming you’d rather be fired than sleep with him…see if he fires you. Look, even more damages.

          Granted, there is a bit of a personal safety issue at some point, I have to admit, so it might be worthwhile to get some people *inside* the motel room able to come out if he turns violent. Additionally, if you get close enough, they can overhear the conversation.

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          • Oh, and regardless of where this conversation is taped: If you are able to, negotiate.

            What, exactly, will this sex consist of? Is it going to include any weird stuff? Anal sex? Will protection be used?

            Is there, like I said, some sort of guarantee that she’ll keep her job, and be considered for promotions, because what’s stopping him from coming back next week and demanding more sex for that?

            I know not all women can do this, not all women could play along with this, but those who *can*, they should go totally ‘no nonsense’:

            You know how the game is played. Accept the entire premise, from the very start, that he has the right to demand sex, but you’d like the rules laid out. What *sort* of sex is he demanding. How *often*? You want, at minimum, an oral contract, with things specifically laid out.

            And I want people to imagine that tape being played for a jury.

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