Last year, a man with a track record of insulting and demeaning women won the presidency, defeating a woman who’s long battled sexism.
This year, a man with a track record of insulting and demeaning women landed a primetime slot on Fox News, replacing a woman who’s long battled sexism.
Happy New Year, everyone!
On Thursday, Fox News said that conservative pundit Tucker Carlson ― not exactly known for his devotion to women’s equality ― would take over the time slot of Megyn Kelly, lately known for helping take down former Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who was fending off sexual harassment allegations.
In her new book, Settle for More, Kelly declines to call herself a feminist, but she makes clear that she believes women and men should have equal opportunities at work. She’s earned a reputation as one of the few anchors at Fox willing to challenge sexist viewpoints and outmoded ways of thinking.
Throughout his career, Carlson has not made clear he believes in any basic notion of women’s equality.
“Are female breadwinners a recipe for disharmony within the home?” Carlson once asked earnestly on “Fox & Friends” in a segment called “Alpha Woman,” notes The Washington Post’s Erick Wemple in a post scathingly titled “Fox News chooses sexist to replace woman who faced sexism.”
A few years ago, Carlson compared women entering the military to domestic violence, a position I’m struggling to explain further.
That same year, Carlson told “Fox & Friends” that having babies outside of marriage is the “ultimate in negligence.” A bit of hyperbole, and clearly offensive to millions of parents across the country.
In 2015, he defended some misogynistic comments his brother made in a leaked email about Amy Spitalnick, who was then spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio. Separately, Carlson emailed Spitalnick, admonishing her “whiny and annoying” tone. Women are often criticized for being anything less than nice in their communications.
More recently, Carlson shut down a female political writer’s comments on his show by telling her to go back to writing about fashion.
“Replacing a woman who’s faced misogyny with a man who openly condones it is a sad metaphor for our politics right now,” Spitalnick, now press secretary for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, told Wemple on Thursday. “Misogyny is alive and well — and it makes it all the more incumbent on journalists, and all of us, to call it out.”
Kelly is, for sure, a controversial figure, but her commitment to women’s equality at work is pretty clear.
In her book, she offers up more than a few tales of the challenges she’s faced throughout her career as a woman in predominantly male worlds. Early on, as she was starting out as a lawyer, she stood up to an older partner who kept asking her to take on administrative tasks. None of her male counterparts had to deal with that.
Kelly also writes about sharing parenting duties with her husband and being thankful for having access to maternity leave ― something she clearly thinks is a good idea. However, she does not go so far as to say it should be public policy.
On Fox in 2013, Kelly famously “demolished” fellow male Fox hosts who had a well-publicized freakout over the increasing number of female breadwinners in the U.S.
And of course, in the first 2016 Republican primary debate, she asked Donald Trump about his track record of insulting women ― kicking off a year of harassment from his supporters.
Still, Kelly had nothing but praise for Carlson this week.