Whatever the outcome of Herman Cain's multiplying sex scandals, the extensive (and defensive) coverage on Fox News, especially by their female commentators, has not made the news network sound like a pleasant place for women to work. Take poor Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros, for example, who thinks its normal to have snacks hurled at her breasts. "I mean Bob [Beckel, fellow Fox News analyst] threw a candy corn down my dress yesterday, and I didn’t sue," Tantaros said on The Five November 1. Beckel responded, "You are going to get me in trouble saying that." Not in that office!
Back when Herman Cain agreed to give his first interview about the original sexual harassment allegations against him, Greta van Susteren mused, "I'm trying to get a sense of whether or not you're one of those guys that's a little too friendly and a little too cozy when you're, you know, with a co-worker." Van Susteren's purely hypothetical office jerk got quickly got awfully specific as she pressed the presidential candidate. "Are you one of those guys in a group who can say sort of dopey things that women can later -- you know, often, when they go into the ladies' room, they talk about the guys, they say, 'Did you hear what Mr. Cain said or what Herman Cain said?' Are you, like, one of those guys who says sort of dopey, inappropriate things in groups?" Whether or not van Susteren has dished over sexual harassment in the bathroom, it sounds like her colleagues at Fox News sure have.
Reflecting on Cain's insistence that all he did was comment on how tall a woman was, Gretchen Carlson said, "As a female, when I’m listening to that, I’m thinking, I’ve heard a lot worse than that in the workplace. I mean, I have!" In a web-only segment, Carlson couldn't believe someone wouldn't be ashamed of being offended over something so minor: "If you're that woman ... and you got a cash settlement anywhere between $10,000 and $99,000, are you going to come forward? I mean, are you going to come forward and say 'I thought that was sexual harassment and I got $50,000 for that?"
Sean Hannity laughed with Ann Coulter on October 31 that sexual harassment sounds a lot like "the conversations and the things we joke about on a regular basis." On November 3, Kirsten Powers offered an example of that. Powers complained about the lack of details in the allegations against Cain (starting at 1:50): "I mean, we are trying to get more specificity. But he made someone feel uncomfortable, what does that mean? People make people feel uncomfortable, that's not illegal." Sean Hannity offered an example: "You just told me I look good tonight." Later, Powers quipped, "Sean, you can tell me I look nice any time." For good measure, Hannity explained, "She's friends with my wife."
Perhaps all of this is why exiled Fox News star Glenn Beck advises in the light of Cain's troubles that to avoid paying your own "settlement" you should pretty much never talk to women. On Tuesday, Beck offered the folks on his email list "Dating 101: Glenn tells Cain how to handle the ladies," as Politico's Patrick Gavin pointed out. "What are the types of situations at work that are acceptable to engage in and which are unacceptable?" Beck teased in his email. Then he explained on his radio show:
"I’d be a fool as a CEO or a head of a company to have dinner with a good friend who is also an employee. I’d be foolish to do that. … There’s just no reason to put yourself in that situation. Why would I put myself in that situation? ... Women and men do not think the same way...
Things Glenn Beck appears to not have learned during his time at Fox News: how to be a friend, how to be a boss, how to not sexually harass someone, how to have dinner.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.