Laments about gender are Huffington Post‘s bread and butter, and we were overdue for another “women in the news media” jeremiad. This one fell on Catherine Taibi and she dutifully penned “The Media’s Gender Problem Still Looks Awful,” complete with oodles of fretful stats about women at the major networks and newspapers. It went on and on, yet nary a word was said about The Cable Game—none of the cable news networks got so much as a mention.
And yet the article managed to work in a smear of Fox News. How did they pull that off? Like this:
Look at that picture: one lonely woman surrounded by three (yes, three!) males. Instantly recognizable as a shot from Fox & Friends, including the much-reviled Donald Trump just to make sure they didn’t accidentally show a female guest. What exactly does this picture have to do with an article that never mentions Fox News? Nothing. So why did Huffington Post paste it on top of an utterly irrelevant story? The Cable Gamer suspects you can intuit the answer to that question as easily as I can.
And there are more layers to that choice of image than appear at first blush. While the co-hosts of F&F appear, what about the correspondent who reports the news segments? Well, HuffPo didn’t want Heather Nauert in the shot. For one thing, she’s a woman and that would spoil the smear. Besides, she has nearly two decades of broadcast journalism experience, an Emmy nomination, and was acclaimed for her reporting at ABC for Nightline and World News Tonight. That’s not nearly as funny as Donald Trump on a couch.
But there’s more. Fox & Friends actually begins at 5:00 am with Fox & Friends First, FNC’s first newscast of the day co-anchored by Heather Childers and Ainslee Earhardt—both very much of the feminine persuasion. Needless to say HuffPo wasn’t about to show that. It’s not nearly as funny as Donald Trump on a couch.
So of the three newscaster roles on Fox & Friends, how many are held by women? Three. This suggests a ratio of female journalists that comes roughly to—let’s see—100%. Fancy that! And HuffPo was crowing about its own 53% figure. Just for giggles let’s stroll down the rest of the weekday schedule:
- 9:00 am: Bill Hemmer co-anchors with Martha MacCallum.
- 11:00 am: Jon Scott co-anchors with Jenna Lee
- 2:00 pm: Gretchen Carlson
- 3:00 pm: Shepard Smith
- 4:00 pm: Neil Cavuto
- 6:00 pm: Bret Baier
- 7:00 pm: Greta van Susteren
- 8:00 pm: Mr Bill O’Reilly
- 9:00 pm: Megyn Kelly
- 10:00 pm: Sean Hannity
At 5:00 pm The Five is strictly an opinion show with talking heads. At noon Outnumbered is four women and one man discussing the news of the day. No way is HuffPo going to mention that one! Of the regulars Harris Faulkner generally has the reporting role for breaking news, updates, etc, so qualifies for the count.
From this we find nine women on-camera daily, reporting as journalists on Fox News, vs seven males. Do that math: that’s slightly over 56%—higher than HuffPo’s own figure which their article touted as the “highest percentage” of females. If we don’t count opinionizers O’Reilly and Hannity, and skip Greta for the same reason, it’s eight women vs five males: 62% women! And we haven’t counted the weekend anchors (Anna Kooiman, Shannon Bream, Uma Pemmaraju, Julie Banderas, Arthel Neville, etc.).
So The Cable Gamer comes back to that Trump picture. Why is it there, right smack under a headline about how “awful” the media’s gender problem is? A picture chosen to make Fox News look bad while omitting the three female journalists who report daily on the illustrated program. Associating Fox News with the headline over an article that doesn’t deal with Fox News at all? Giving credulous readers the impression that Fox is an example of what’s detailed in the article? It’s really quite impressive: a smear of Fox News, pulled off without a single fact, allegation, or shred of evidence.
Was Catherine Taibi behind this? It’s her article, her byline. The Cable Gamer can’t say if she chose the picture to “illustrate” the article. But it’s been up for over a day now and Ms. Taibi has not had it taken down. What does her acquiescence suggest, other than participation in the smear?