In his most recent column, Michael Gerson slams Fox News.
If the accusations of dozens of women over two decades are correct — and it is hard to dismiss the women, as the accused have done, as unbalanced, dishonest or disgruntled — then Fox News is the focus of hypocrisy in the modern world. While preaching traditional values, it has operated, according to former Fox anchor Andrea Tantaros, “like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.”
A recent New York Times story detailing $13 million in payouts to women accusing O’Reilly of harassment depicts a corporate atmosphere of predation and enablement. Stories on Ailes present a similar (and even worse) picture of women treated as sex objects and employment benefits.
Gerson’s column could almost have been written by a leftie feminist, except for one slightly paternalistic line, “Can a news organization deal adequately with women’s issues when you would never allow your own daughter to work there?” But I forgive Gerson, because he recognizes the essential problem.
The ethos of a newspaper, cable network or website influences the final product. At The Post — reflecting its investigative self-image — the new motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” At Fox, this ethos has involved, according to the New Yorker’s Margaret Talbot, “the fetishization of hot female news presenters.” And this, it seems, has doubled as a kind of conveyor belt for bright new faces. Can it really be a coincidence that feminism is often dismissed on Fox News as so much political correctness?
Of course it’s not a coincidence. Nor is it a coincidence that more than 30 advertisers recently withdrew their advertising dollars from O’Reilly’s show.
Erik Wemple of WaPo points out that O’Reilly is known for dismissing his detractors with insightful insults, such as “pinhead” and “far-left loon,” but he’s been mostly silent lately. Now that Ailes is out, will Fox News continue to shell out millions of dollars to keep its big star online?