I love Fox News and I hate Fox News.
As an opinion writer, one cannot avoid dealing with uncomfortable issues. In most matters political, when pundits want to convince their readers that their analysis is valid, it can be convenient to ignore details that could cast a negative light on the cause being supported. It is a constant balancing act.
It is possible to be glad something exists and still see its flaws. Such is my reaction to recent events at Fox News with the firing of Bill O’ Reilly. In spite of the fact that I am glad that a news outlet which is right of center exists in an environment where speaking anything out of the politically “correct” mainstream is maligned, a bit of objectivity is still in order.
For years I have watched Fox News to hear voices which are not allowed elsewhere. I anticipate that will not change. But for the same amount of time I have been appalled at the presentation of women on Fox Media as one dimensional sexual objects. Their hiring of women on-screen who are overwhelmingly young, blond, tall, size zero to size two, with stunning sculpted faces, miniscule waists, white enameled sparkling teeth and perfect hair has been consistent. Their dressing these icons in skin tight sleeveless dresses, (even in freezing temperatures), with breasts exposed, in mini-skirts to show as much leg as possible, and in five inch heels to increase their sexual appeal is unnecessary and deserves analysis. Both men and women talk about this phenomenon regularly, and have strong opinions about its validity. Why is it deemed acceptable for Fox to present their news women primarily as sex objects …who just happen to have functioning minds as well?
Even Judge Jeannine who has an excellent intellect, is dressed like a Barbie doll . We only see her from the waist up, but this attractive woman is rarely allowed wardrobe dignity. How absurd to treat all women as sexual objects. Do they really believe that imperfect women have so little of value?
There has rarely been a mature woman, or even a chubby, younger woman on their screen- unless of course they are being interviewed as a government or political party representative. Even their “weather lady” fits the mold. There are news media stations which hire interesting, imperfect women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Take a look at France 24 to see that real news can be delivered in a dignified and interesting manner by very “real” and visually interesting women.
Therefore, I would like to suggest that Fox itself creates a sexist environment in which men are working with unusually beautiful women who are brought onto the news team to sell their “news product.” It is all about ratings. Ratings are about sponsors and sponsors are about revenue, i.e.: the bottom line. By the way…. no such standards are expected of the men on camera, who can be overweight, balding, unattractive and slovenly wardrobe-wise.
Men such as O’Reilly often fall into the ego trap of success, power and opportunity. Their lack of good taste in their relationships with fellow female employees has been documented dozens (if not hundreds) of times in recent years, and has resulted in their dismissal from the very organizations they have led. One prior President of the United States comes to mind – among the multitudes.
This brings to mind an article which I wrote for the Jerusalem Post on 12/23.2015 which was entitled “Sad Day For Silvan.” He too was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, and it ended his outstanding career in the Israeli government. I searched online to see if any of the accusations ever went to court. None ever did. Still, his political career was in tatters.
The firing of Bill O’Reilly for making inappropriate comments towards women on staff, may just be an excuse. The reports that the sons of Rupert Murdoch may intend to weaken the right-wing essence of Fox may well be at the core. Cancellations from advertisers are being blamed as well. I am uncomfortable promoting these themes, as I have no way of knowing their veracity. A large financial settlement with the women who filed complaints against O’Reilly resolved their proclaimed “indignation”. If the accusations had been about any kind of physical abuse, the matter would have gone to the courts and not to the board room. A generous fee appeased the women and their complaints were silenced. Claims that O’Reilly impeded the career growth of one woman who avoided his advances may well be “sour grapes” from a woman looking for an excuse for a stymied career. We will never know.
I am, however, disturbed by the firing of a man who treated women as sexual objects, by a corporation which does exactly the same. Are we to accept that the sexual objectification of female employees is acceptable if it is for profit and ratings, but that it is not acceptable elsewhere? If one is to be held responsible for such actions… why not the other?