'Boobs on the Ground?'10 Dumbest Things Fox News Did Last Year
It was another banner year for Fox News, which spent its past twelve months mocking female soldiers, advising women not to vote, making light of domestic abuse victims, wishing ebola on workers, and, of course, standing up for America’s awesomeness, no matter what a non sequitur it might be. Let’s review.
1. “America Is Awesome”
Speaking of that awesomeness, Fox contributor Andrea Tantaros loudly proclaimed it in response to perhaps the most glaring document against that inherent awesomeness: the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report the CIA torture methods performed under the Bush administration, the methods through which the United States systematically and grotesquely traded its real or perceived moral high ground for exactly the sort of chest thumping Tantaros displayed.
The torture report caused a problem for Fox News — which, you’ll notice in the examples below, is often when the network produces its most outlandish statements. Only the lowest of the low (cc: Dick Cheney) can defend forced rectal feeding and the other actions detailed in the report. In fact, all you can say to that without immediately falling into a spiral of cognitive dissonance, is “America is awesome.”
2. “Boobs on the Ground”
“Boobs on the Ground,” as the mini-scandal became almost immediately known, was probably Fox’s biggest error of the year. The segment began with the quintet lauding Mariam Al Mansouri, the first female fighter pilot for the United Arab Emirates, who led the country’s effort against ISIS. It’s the sort of clever triangulation Fox excels at—disarming criticisms of sexism by praising women, but on their own narrow conservative terms (and, it should be noted, finding a way to approve of the military strikes against ISIS without praising President Barack Obama for leading them).
That was until Eric Bolling called her “boobs on the ground.” Suddenly a segment lauding women became one objectifying them; an attempt to show how far women had risen in a Middle Eastern society showed how far they had to go in our own. Bolling actually earned criticism from his fellow Fox colleagues in real time — by the time Greta van Susteren started her show a couple hours later, she was already holding Bolling to the fire.
Bolling’s first apology was inadequate; he ended up issuing a full, on-air apology several days later, one of many that came from chagrined Fox hosts this year.
3. “Take the Stairs”
Those cracks got a lot of Fox hosts in trouble. Another notable moment came during Fox & Friends’ discussion of the Ray Rice suspension, following a graphic video of the NFL player brutally assaulting his then-fiancÃ© Janay Palmer.
Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy, the male bookends of the morning troika, paired the video with another TMZ clip in the zeitgeist—that of Solange Knowles clashing with Jay-Z, also in an elevator. The connection was too much for the men.
“The message is, take the stairs,” Kilmeade said.
Hi-larious. The pair even faltered when they apologized. “Comments that we made during this story yesterday made some people feel like we were taking this situation too lightly,” they said the next day. “We are not. We were not. Domestic abuse is a very serious issue to us, I assure you.” Just serious enough to joke about.
4. “Don’t Hit Your Husbands”
The Ray Rice video scrambled Fox News’ talking points. Rice’s punch was so unavoidably savage that the network couldn’t retreat into its normal talking points about culture of victimhood and liberal overreaction. The result was a lot of hosts, contributors, and guests improvising without a net.
See guest David Webb, who wanted to make sure that we weren’t being sexist in only going after men for punching their fiancÃ©s out. “There’s a lot of good guys in the NFL, most of them don’t go out and beat their wives,” Webb said. “And frankly, to the wives and girlfriends out there, don’t hit your husbands.”
You know you’ve messed up on Fox when you get called out on-air. Webb’s all-female cohosts called his comments “dangerous” and a gross misrepresentation of domestic abuse, though the radio talk show host did not back down.
5. “Go Back to Tinder”
At least Webb gave women some agency in his remarks. Contributor Kimberly Guilfoyle said that young women should excuse themselves from voting in the upcoming midterms because they lacked the life experience necessary to make proper decisions at the ballot box.
“They’re like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world,” she said. “They can go back on Tinder or Match.com.”
(Her cohost Greg Gutfeld indicated the real thinking behind this, noting that women tend to lean more conservative as they get older.)
Guifoyle sorta-walked back the comments a day later, saying she takes the right to vote “seriously.”
“My point is you’ve been given a powerful blessing in life in this country to be able to vote and to be able to sit on the jury,” she explained, “so come equipped, come prepared because you don’t want to dilute the votes out there because you are uninformed and you’re spoon-fed something that’s inaccurate or you don’t even bother to equip yourself with the facts – anybody out there, this goes for everyone.”
6. “'BeyoncÃ© Voters”
Guilfoyle wasn’t the only one to disparage female voters. On a different episode of Outnumbered (a new show that produced some real doozies this year), Bill O’Reilly warm-up act Jesse Waters riffed on Hillary’s pandering to single women ahead of her 2016 run.
"She needs the single ladies vote," he said. "I call them the 'BeyoncÃ© voters,' the single ladies. Obama won single ladies by 76 percent last time and they made up about a quarter of the electorate."
Waters said Clinton would push to make contraception access a constitutional right in order to woo young women, who see the government as a surrogate husband.
"They depend on government because they're not depending on their husbands," he said. "They need things like contraception, health care and they love to talk about equal pay."
7. “We Could All Stand to Lose a Few”
Insulting women on the mostly-female show was became something a pattern. Following Webb and Waters’ comments, Fox in-house psychoanalyst Keith Ablow just straight up told FLOTUS to lose a few.
Ablow, who has all sorts of complex sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-Freudian theories about how the actions of the Obamas represent unconscious anxieties about fathers and homelands, called Michelle Obama a hypocrite for leading a healthy eating campaign when she’s apparently not thin enough for his standards.
“How well can she be eating?” he asked. “I mean, let's be honest, like I mean there's no French fries [there]? That's all kale and carrots? I don't buy it.”
Ablow took heat from his fellow hosts, which, again, is how you know you really stepped in it, but still didn’t get it. He tried to contextualize his comments during his next appearance and only dug himself deeper. “What I was reacting to was the hypocrisy,” he said. “For someone who has struggled with her own weight…to say, we're going to set draconian standards and dial everything so far down that it's inedible..."
Cohost Sandra Smith didn’t buy it. "Maybe for future appearances, you think about what you're going to say before you say it," she said. (He did not.)
8. Judge Jeanine Wishes Ebola on Flight Attendant
Following an unconfirmed story that a flight attendant refused to hang U.S. army ranger’s coat, Judge Jeanine came up with a creative punishment that magically tied into the main news story at the time: don’t fire the flight attendant, reassign her to cleaning toilets on flights from west Africa. No big deal, just wishing ebola on someone.
9. “You Don’t Have to Look Like a Member of the Taliban Anymore”
Unhappy with the whole Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap, F&F cohost Brian Kilmeade focused his ire on the conspicuous beard Robert Bergdahl grew to show solidarity with his son during Bowe’s prolonged captivity.
“Your son’s out now,” he sneered at Bergdahl senior. “If you no longer want to look like a member of the Taliban, you don’t have to look like a member of the Taliban. Are you out of razors?”
As Jon Stewart later pointed out, if Kilmeade had a problem with Taliban-style beards, he could start with those of Fox News idols on the very-bearded Duck Dynasty.
10. Japanese Internment “A Good Start”
During a discussion on racial profiling on the show Cashin’ In, contributor Jonathan Hoenig defended the practice by pointing out how well Japanese internment worked during World War Two.
“We should have been profiling on September 12, 2001,” he said. “The last war this country won, we put Japanese Americans in internment camps; we dropped nuclear bombs on residential city centers. So, yes, profiling would be at least a good start.”
Hoenig non-apologized the next week, saying “I want to issue a sincere apology for my remarks on last week’s Cashin' In” —not bad so far, but then “—which I believe were unfortunately misinterpreted. The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was completely immoral. I’ve never defended it." Nope, just called it a good start. Totally different.
Bonus: “Media Ignorance Is Becoming a Serious Problem”