Fox-Y Ladies

I don’t watch TV news much, and hardly watch Fox News at all (my last extended exposure, on the day of the 2012 SCOTUS decision on Obamacare, left me traumatized for days), so I was interested in this report from Paul Waldman explaining the strange hypocrisy of the network on prurient matters:

In case you don’t watch Fox, you should know that they work extremely hard to find excuses to put images of scantily clad women on the air. Some of it contains no finger-wagging—how about a report on Hooters’ third-quarter profits, with lots of shots of waitresses?—but plenty of it is presented with a thin veneer of moral condemnation that allows viewers to feel like Fox remains on their side in the grand battle against sexual depravity….

Don’t forget that the typical Fox viewer is a conservative senior citizen. The median age of the network’s viewers is 68.8, and some shows skew even older; Bill O’Reilly’s median viewer is 72. More so than perhaps any other channel on television, Fox endeavors to shape and reflect not just its viewers’ beliefs about particular topics but their entire worldview. It presents a picture of the world in which everything is going hell, and the prime enemies are change and modernity. The president hates America, immigrants are destroying our culture, the kids are out of control, and it’s not like it was back in the day. Fox is a channel for the conservative id, where you can have your darkest thoughts and worst fears nurtured and validated.

And titillated, too:

[O]f course, there’s nothing the id likes better than looking at half-naked girls. On Fox, you can be like the stern father who discovers his teenage son’s stash of Penthouse, looking through each issue carefully to understand the depths to which the boy has sunk, lingering over each photo spread as you shake your head at how depraved the world has become.

I’ve always figured a fair percentage of upscale conservatives are the kind of guys Playboy used to target, and the sometimes-twisted attitudes on matters sexual among strongly conservative religious folk is the oldest story in America other than greed. But Fox News as a peepshow? Lord have mercy.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.