Reviewing the recent dust-up between Fox News and Donald Trump over sexist comments, Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman noted that the Fox News chief "is like Trump" in that both have a history of misogyny. Indeed, as Sherman laid out in his book The Loudest Voice in the Room, Ailes' professional career is marred by a pattern of blatant sexism.
At last week's Republican primary debate, Fox host Megyn Kelly challenged Trump on his history of derogatory remarks towards women. In a CNN interview following the debate, Trump lashed out at Kelly, claiming "you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."
Fox News and Trump are currently in the process of patching up their historically friendly relationship in the wake of widespread outrage over Trump's comments. Ailes reportedly called Trump yesterday, during which the two "had a blunt but cordial conversation and the air has been cleared."
During an appearance on CNN this morning, Trump hailed Ailes as an "amazing executive" and a "very good friend of mine."
As Sherman pointed out on Twitter on August 10, it's "important to note: Ailes once got in trouble at NBC in 90s when he made misogynist comments in Imus interview. Ailes is like Trump." During the incident in question, Ailes reportedly attacked two of his female employees at the time -- then-CNBC hosts Mary Matalin and Jane Wallace -- saying they were akin to "girls who if you went into a bar around seven, you wouldn't pay a lot of attention, but [they] get to be tens around closing time."
Below are several of the allegations about Ailes' sexism that Sherman reported in Loudest Voice, which Media Matters first highlighted in 2014:
Sherman relayed an anecdote of Ailes regarding former Fox News reporter Kiran Chetry: "Anchor Bob Sellers remembered Ailes once calling the control booth. 'I was doing the weekend show with Kiran Chetry. He called up and said, 'Move that damn laptop, I can't see her legs!'"
Sherman reports that Ailes "had admiration for [former Fox host Catherine Crier's] legs" and was livid when she appeared on-air wearing pants:
"Be more opinionated," he told Crier in one meeting. "The guests are there as a foil for you." He also disagreed with her dress. "He had admiration for her legs," a senior executive said. In one meeting, Ailes barked, "Tell Catherine I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 238]
Elsewhere in the book, discussing Megyn Kelly's famous walk through the newsroom on election night in 2012, Sherman quotes a Fox employee saying, "This is Fox News, so anytime there's a chance to show off Megyn Kelly's legs they'll go for it."
Sherman wrote of Ailes' inspiration for the afternoon Fox News program The Five:
Years later at Fox News, Ailes would talk fondly about his theatrical experience. "Whenever he can, he gets into the conversation that he produced Hot l Baltimore," a senior Fox executive said. Creating the Fox News afternoon show The Five, Ailes found his inspiration on the stage. "He said, 'I've always wanted to do an ensemble concept,'" a close friend said. "He said, 'I wanted a Falstaff, and that's Bob Beckel. I need a leading man, and it's Eric Bolling. I need a serious lead and that's Dana Perino. I need a court jester and it's Greg [Gutfeld], and I need the leg. That's Andrea Tantaros." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 95-96]
Sherman reports that while interviewing a prospective employee for NBC's Tomorrow, a show he was producing, Ailes "posed romantically suggestive questions and made flirtatious comments" to a woman, who told him it made her feel "uncomfortable":
Unbeknownst to Harrison, Shelley Ross, a former newspaper reporter turned television producer, experienced an interview in which Ailes posed romantically suggestive questions and made flirtatious comments about her appearance. "This is making me uncomfortable," Ross recalled telling Ailes. She had worked with [John] Huddy at The Miami Herald and he had recommended her for the Tomorrow job. In a follow-up telephone interview, she told Ailes that she would never date a boss. Ailes's reaction was, according to Ross, "Don't you know I'm single?" When Ross said she was no longer interested in the position, Ailes began apologizing profusely. "This must be middle-aged crazy. I'm so sorry," he said. "If you come to work for me, you know, we're not going to have any problems." Ross eventually accepted the offer and had a positive experience working for Ailes. When asked by a reporter in the mid-1990s about the comments he made to Ross in the interview, Ailes called her "crazy" and a "militant feminist." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 115]
In 1994, Ailes appeared on the radio show of shock jock and former Fox Business host Don Imus and made sexual and sexist remarks about two of his female hosts.
Before it was over, Ailes skewered his own employees. He joked that Mary Matalin and Jane Wallace, hosts of CNBC's Equal Time, were like "girls who if you went into a bar around seven, you wouldn't pay a lot of attention, but [they] get to be tens around closing time."
Jane Wallace didn't appear in any news stories defending Ailes. "He had no right to say something like that," she later said. "He was our boss. It was completely sexist. It was disgusting. It was outrageous. I thought it was a hideously awful thing to say." But she, too, didn't make it an issue with Ailes. "I didn't say so out loud, I was working for the guy." A few weeks later, however, Wallace quit to host her own show on FX, the start-up cable network owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 153]
Sherman reports that in 2009 -- around the time Ailes hired Don Imus to try to inject life into the flagging Fox Business Network -- he also considered hiring CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo. Sherman quotes an executive involved in the negotiations saying that Ailes was disappointed Bartiromo had "gained so much weight":
Around this time, he also considered poaching CNBC star Maria Bartiromo. "Roger passed on her," one executive involved in the talks said. "He wished she hadn't gained so much weight. He said she went from looking like Sophia Loren to Mamma Leone. He felt he was being used to get more money from CNBC. He told us her agent should give him part of the commission, because the talks were worth another million dollars." (In November 2013, Bartiromo jumped from CNBC to Fox Business.) [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 388]
Ailes' temper features prominently in the book, with Sherman explaining that Ailes "vented constantly about his talent":
No one was spared from Ailes's eruptions. He vented constantly about his talent. He complained about The Five co-host Andrea Tantaros, who was a former political consultant. "She's pretty, but did she ever get anyone elected, even a dog catcher?" When Gretchen Carlson's name came up, Ailes pointed out she was once Miss America, then added, "It must not have been a good year." Her co-host, Brian Kilmeade, was a "soccer coach from Long Island." Bill O'Reilly was a "book salesman with a TV show." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 389]
From the August 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
From the August 10 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
From the August 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
From the August 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
From the August 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
From the August 10 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
Fox News Contributor Katie Pavlich hyped Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's false claim that unions are partially responsible for the gender pay gap. But research has found that unions actually help diminish gender wage inequality, lowering the pay gap by as much as 40 percent in unionized workplaces.
New CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord accused Donald Trump's critics of engaging in a "Goebbelsesque Big Lie technique" by attacking Trump's recent "blood" remarks about Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly. CNN has heavily covered the story and criticized Trump for his misogynistic remarks.
In an August 10 column headlined "The Disgusting Big Lie About Donald Trump," Lord discussed Trump's August 7 remarks on CNN that Kelly was a bad moderator and "you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" -- which many interpreted as a reference to Kelly's menstrual cycle. Lord compared those who had that interpretation to Nazis, writing that what followed Trump's comments was "the most disgusting pieces of political analyses I have ever heard in my life. A plu-perfect example of the insight of Hitler's Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels":
What has followed has been 48-hours of the most disgusting pieces of political analyses I have ever heard in my life. A plu-perfect example of the insight of Hitler's Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." There was not a word said, not a hint, not a suggestion, that Donald Trump ever said Megyn Kelly asked her lead question of him because she was menstruating. Say again... not... a... word. Not one. This is -- there is no other word for it -- a Goebbels-esque lie.
Lord continued by attacking Republicans, RedState blogger Erick Erickson, and the media, again comparing them to Nazis: "In a stunning convergence of the Goebbelsesque Big Lie technique with today's left-wing political correctness, Erickson, the Republican Establishment -- of which Erickson is decidedly not a member -- and many in the media have made it a point to endlessly repeat Erickson's slander."
Lord, a writer for NewsBusters and the American Spectator, announced he was hired by CNN on August 6. CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota stated that day: "Joining us is the newest member of our CNN family, CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord ... Welcome to the family."
According to his definition, Lord's new employer and his CNN colleagues are apparently acting like Nazis. A Nexis search of transcripts reveals that CNN devoted numerous segments to Trump's blood remarks.
Lord appeared on CNN over the weekend to defend Trump's attack. During one exchange, New Day Saturday host Christi Paul stated that Trump "took on a woman claiming that it was hormonal" and "did it in a sexist way, did he not?" Lord complained: "We have serious problems in this country. And this is what we are talking about?" Fellow conservative CNN commentator Ben Ferguson criticized Trump, saying: "It is absolutely sexist to say that it had to do with hormones of a woman." Lord responded: "This is what political correctness is all about and it's terribly wrong!"
During Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter responded to Trump's claim that "only a sick person would even think" he was referring to menstruation by replying: "I guess I am a sick person."
CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny cast doubt on Trump's explanation, stating on Inside Politics: "If this was out of character for him perhaps we could take him at his word but I think, you know, there's a long string of things -- a long string of his comments over the years."
Lord also claimed that critics of the remark are "sexist." He said: "I would submit to you, it's because this is sexist. They're coming to the defense of a little lady as it were, which is unbelievably sexist. Megyn Kelly, I like her as I said. I think she's a supremely confident, a great reporter. And, you know, clearly, she's being treated by a different standard by a lot of these Republicans."
Media covering Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's claim that exceptions to abortion restrictions in the case of rape are not necessary because rape victims can take the morning-after pill to avoid abortion should also note that Rubio repeatedly used his U.S. Senate seat to try to limit access to contraception for women.
During the August 9 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd asked Rubio about his statement during Fox News' August 6 Republican presidential candidate primary debate that he does not favor exemptions for rape or incest in laws restricting abortion access.
Claiming that the number of abortions that occur after rape is "very small," Rubio stated, "Because of the existence of over-the-counter morning-after [pills] not to mention medical treatment that is now available immediately after the assault that should be widely available to victims, we can bring that number down to zero."
CHUCK TODD: I want to just get this clarification. Will you support legislation that has exceptions, anti-abortion legislation that has exceptions for life of the mother, rape, incest, et cetera?
RUBIO: Yeah, I'll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions. So that means a 20 week abortion ban, at five months, a child, you'll recognize it as a human being in an ultrasound image, and I'll support that. That doesn't, obviously, cover the whole gambit, but it reduces the number of abortions. I'll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions, and there are those that have that exception in it. I've never, what I've never done is said 'I require that it must have or not have exceptions.'
TODD: Why not? Why don't you think there should be a requirement of an exception?
RUBIO: Well a couple points. I think, first of all, the questions that people ask about those two instances are horrifying. A rape is an act of violence; it's a horrifying thing that happens and fortunately the number of abortions in this country that are due to rape are very small, less than one percent of the cases in the world. But they happen, and they're horrifyingly -- and they're tragic, and I recognize that. I also recognize that because of the existence of over-the-counter morning-after [pills] not to mention medical treatment that is now available immediately after the assault that should be widely available to victims, we can bring that number down to zero.
Media should not take Rubio's claim that exceptions for rape in laws restricting abortion access are not necessary due to the existence of over-the-counter emergency contraception at face value. Instead, they should take note of his repeated attempts to allow employers to deny coverage for contraceptives to women by claiming a moral objection in order to put his Meet the Press comment in proper context.
During a 2012 political fight over the scope of Obamacare's contraception mandate -- which requires all insurance plans to cover preventive services including contraception for women -- Rubio co-sponsored The Blunt Amendment, which according to The New York Times would have "let employers and health insurance companies deny coverage for contraceptives and other items they object to on religious or moral grounds." The amendment was defeated 51 to 48.
Rubio also introduced The Religious Freedom And Restoration Act of 2012, which according to the National Women's Law Center, "would [have] take[n] away the right of millions of women to have any insurance coverage for contraception, based on an employer or health plan's religious or moral beliefs -- whether affiliated or not with any religious entity." That bill died in committee.
While Rubio said he does not oppose the use of contraception, in 2014 he signed onto an amicus curiae brief in the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case that "repeatedly equate[ed] contraception and abortion, pointing to emergency contraception and the IUD in particular, which they say can block implantation of a fertilized egg," according to MSNBC.
From the August 9 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
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Numerous organizations are criticizing Republican presidential candidates who attended Fox News contributor Erick Erickson's RedState Gathering this weekend, after he disinvited Donald Trump over sexist remarks despite his history of sexist and bigoted comments.
Erickson hosted his annual RedState Gathering August 6-9, billing it as "a very grassroots event." In attendance was most of the Republican presidential field, including Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Jeb Bush, and Gov. Scott Walker. Several current Republican members of Congress were also in attendance.
Erickson barred Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from the event for his sexist attack on Fox host Megyn Kelly, asserting "his comment about Megyn Kelly on CNN is a bridge too far for me."
But Kelly's fellow Fox host Greta Van Susteren took note of Erickson's hypocrisy, writing, "You have to love the irony of Erick Erickson disinviting Trump when Erickson has said the worst things about women."
Erickson has said that males should be "dominant" over females, claimed women should be "at home" while men bring "home the bacon," and labeled Michelle Obama a "Marxist harpy wife."
And several organizations are now calling out the Republican presidential candidates that are continuing to court Erickson despite his long history of bigoted, sexist comments.
In a statement to Media Matters, MoveOn.org said, "Erick Erickson is an extremist, plain and simple. He's attacked working moms, the LGBTQ community, and others. His record of out-of-bounds remarks is a long one, and GOP presidential candidates' pandering to Erickson and his ilk show that they are out of touch with American voters and out of line with mainstream American values."
Planned Parenthood Action Fund noted, "GOP presidential hopefuls are currently gathering in Atlanta to stand side by side with extreme right-wing pundit Erick Erickson -- infamous for his hostility to women and incendiary remarks that include comparing pregnant women to 'female animals' and referring to a female Democratic candidate as 'Abortion Barbie'."
EMILY's List criticized the 2016 presidential field for siding "with a man who believes women should not be in the workplace and calls women lawmakers names like 'Abortion Barbie,'" adding, "Donald Trump and Erick Erickson are just symptoms of a larger problem. At its core, the ideology that Republican Party policies are grounded in is a fundamental distrust of women."
An NPR fact-check explained the harmful consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood, reporting that such a move would disproportionately impact low-income people and may cost taxpayers money in the long-run.
During an August 3 event hosted by the Southern Baptist Convention, GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush suggested that women's health providers such as Planned Parenthood are over-funded by the government, saying "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues." The renewed push to defund Planned Parenthood has been propelled by right-wing media citing the Center for Medical Progress' deceptively edited videos to push misinformation about the health care provider's vital services, and going so far as to call for a government shutdown "if that is what it takes" to defund the organization.
According to an August 5 NPR fact-check, defunding Planned Parenthood could have major consequences, including impacting low-income people, who comprise a large majority of Planned Parenthood's patients. Pointing to a letter from the Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall, the report explained that although the CBO has yet to come to a "firm conclusion" on the matter, defunding the organization "could have led to more spending (not to mention more unplanned pregnancies)":
Title X and Medicaid are programs that target low- to middle-income Americans, and many of Planned Parenthood's patients are likewise lower-income. As of 2012, 79 percent of people receiving services from Planned Parenthood lived at 150 percent of the federal poverty level or lower (that comes out to around $18,500 for a single adult), according to a March Government Accountability Office report.
Defunding the group might cut some spending and accomplish one Republican anti-abortion goal, but it could also backfire, as Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall wrote this week in a letter addressing S. 1881.
Though the CBO didn't do a full, formal analysis of the bill, Hall pointed out that while the bill could cut government spending, it could also increase it. While displacing Title X funding from Planned Parenthood to other clinics, the bill could have cut Medicaid spending as some beneficiaries might fail or decide not to seek out family planning services at other clinics. But on the other hand, it could have led to more spending (not to mention more unplanned pregnancies):
"CBO also expects that some of the services that would not be used if S. 1881 was enacted would include those that help women avert pregnancies and deliveries. Reduced use of such services would be expected to lead to additional births, increasing federal spending, primarily for Medicaid. In addition, some of those children would themselves qualify for Medicaid and possibly for other federal programs."
Fox News is helping Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush whitewash his suggestion that the federal government spends too much on health care services for women, which kicked off a firestorm as other media outlets, Democrats, and advocacy groups called him out for the remarks.
Iowa's CBS 2 TV news failed to challenge a claim by a spokesperson for Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) that a bill co-sponsored by Blum -- the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) -- would not legalize discrimination against single pregnant women and same-sex couples, despite the fact that experts say the bill's language would allow private businesses and non-profit organizations to discriminate against them on the basis of religious or moral beliefs. By comparison, Iowa's ABC 9 fact checked Blum's claims and reported that FADA's language could, in fact, create a legal defense for discrimination.