If enough people raise a stink, things can change

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, July 7, 2016

Regardless if you are a regular viewer of Fox News or not, most folks are familiar with Gretchen Carlson, who worked at the network for 11 years before being unfairly ousted, she now alleges in a lawsuit, for rejecting sexual advances from the network head, Roger Ailes, as well as suffering ‘sexist and condescending’ behavior from former colleague, Steve Doocy.

Admittedly, I am not a fan of Fox, I prefer ‘Morning Joe.’ But am I lying when I note that for years it’s been woefully apparent that Fox, in cultivating their strongest demographic — middle aged and older white guys — has always dangled a bit of blonde eye candy either between two men on the couch or behind the desk on their own show?

It’s just disappointing that a Stanford educated and classically trained violinist, like Carlson, was either forced or chose to appear and behave like a pert 1970s flight attendant with plunging neckline, skirts riding up to the thigh, spray tanned and crowned with a shellacked platinum bob.

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If Ailes is guilty, I hope she walks with millions, but I hope something far more earthshaking occurs: I hope every other female newscaster on television begins dressing professionally and appropriately for the job. Listen, having toured as a stand up comic on the road for 25 years makes me the furthest thing from a prude (and each day I give thanks there were no smartphones to record the 80s or 90s) so I’m not coming from an old schoolmarm point of view.

But, if you want to be taken seriously as a broadcast journalist (think Christiane Amanpour, who regularly reported from Iraq and Iran with hair that looked like she combed it with a chair and spat on it to make it lie down, a dusty flack jacket and a jawline that could deflect any sucker punch) then dress like a broadcast journalist!

I mean, we don’t see Steve Doocy or Sean Hannity or, thank you, Lord, Bill O’Reilly, reporting in shirts unbuttoned to their navel or tank tops with their bare, hairy arms on display, do we? They’re in suits. Expensive, tailored suits with cuff links.

Lester Holt, Wolf Blitzer, all the guys from 60 Minutes, none of them go to work looking like they’re on their way to a cocktail party in stiletto heels with make up that’s applied like Spackle.

And if you’re taken into the boss’ office, Gretchen, and the rest of you, and told, as she has claimed, not to wear pants on the show but to instead, wear ridiculously short skirts that require you to sit at uncomfortable angles with one hand over your knee to block a few million people from seeing what color underwear you’re wearing, that is the time you nod prettily, take your seat in the studio, attach the mic (whose wire has to run up your skirt, over your back and fasten to your neckline, generally assisted by a bearded sound engineer) calm your heart as it begins to beat out of your chest, and without a word of warning to anyone so that no one has time to cut your audio, announce to your audience, “I was just told by my boss that I’m not allowed to wear anything but short skirts and if I don’t, I’ll be fired. I’d appreciate your support in letting me appear to be the professional journalist I consider myself to be.”

There will be an implosion the likes you’ve never seen and no one will dare fire you.

Look, I’m aware that news networks are notorious for sexism. Rarely will unattractive women be hired. For years, this country embraced the jowly Walter Cronkite, however, we all know perfectly well that had he had a female equivalent who might look like Bea Arthur, she would never have been allowed behind the desk.

But there’s enough women viewers who can easily demand that all women be considered and they can certainly express disapproval via email and phone calls to advertisers that it is difficult to take anything seriously that comes from the mouth of a neo Jessica Rabbit.

If enough people raise a stink, things can change. Until then, I’m going to try and see if I can unsee that image of Doocy with chest hair and chains…