Crimes and Misdemeanors: Part II

So which obnoxious organization will collapse first, the Republican Party or Fox News?

October 7 marks the 20th anniversary of the cantankerous cable channel’s launch, and while it may be too optimistic to think that the offensive offspring of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes will ever change after two decades of decadence, it’s not too far-fetched to hope that the station’s sexism scandal may encourage female Republican viewers who have not already abandoned the unfair and imbalanced network to finally switch channels (as Martin Longman suggested last month).

I’m sure Andrea Tantaros, the former Fox personality who, like Gretchen Carlson before her, has blown the whistle on bias against women at the network, would chafe at being described as a feminist hero, but it is appropriate to consider her a new marcher in the movement against misogyny. Yes, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian are right to note that Tantaros hasn’t always stood up for similarly situated women in the past:

On the other hand, sometimes a Republican woman ignited by injustice can become a passionate fighter against prejudice and fear, with ex-GOPer Elizabeth Warren being an excellent example. People do change and evolve, and perhaps Tantaros’s experience may give her new insight into the barriers others confront on a daily basis–and the government policies needed to remove those barriers.

Hopefully, other Republican women who watch Fox are reconsidering their allegiances. As Uygur and Kasparian note, Republicans are, as a general rule, not known for empathy, often dismissing concerns about discrimination and social inequality as just so much “bleeding-heart liberalism” and “political correctness.” As Republican women read more and more about the credible allegations of Tantaros and Carlson, and bear witness to the scornful reactions of Republican men, they may be realizing, at long last, that the folks who run their party don’t really care about putting a stop to the sort of discrimination Tantaros and Carlson were allegedly subjected to.

Let’s not underestimate the courage of Tantaros and Carlson. No woman, no matter how right-wing in their views, should be subjected to the sick, sleazy sexism both women allegedly had to deal with–and it takes tremendous fortitude to stand up to Fox’s political and cultural power. Just imagine how much hate mail both women are getting, how many violent threats they’re receiving. No woman deserves that.

I completely understand the argument that one should not feel too sorry for two privileged white women who didn’t exactly go out of their way to express concern for the challenges faced by other women further down the economic ladder. I get that. However, the fight against the sexism that has haunted our country from the very beginning can’t be won without the occasional unlikely ally or two.

If the lawsuits filed by Tantaros and Carlson can bring about changes that will reduce workplace bias in this country, so much the better. If the credible claims of Tantaros and Carlson cause Fox’s female fanbase to consider less ideologically-charged viewing options, that’s ice cream on top of cake. If the demands for justice from Tantaros and Carlson encourage powerful American men to reconsider how they treat women in the workplace, that’s a win for all of us.

It’s a shame that so many women allegedly suffered at the hands of Ailes, a man so sex-obsessed he probably has his peanut butter sandwiches with K-Y jelly. Tantaros and Carlson may still, for now, hold on to some right-wing views–but by casting a spotlight on the sexism that still scars our society, they could help America make progress.

NEXTA battle against efforts to criminalize science.

UPDATE: More from Gabriel Sherman, Think Progress and Media Matters.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.