FOX-2 got its clicks for a story quoting random people appraising Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appearance. The station’s management defended the move and appears to want to move on — but the national, and even international, media have other ideas.
The Advance was the first to call out FOX-2’s piece featuring comments like, “I’d hit that,” following the governor’s first speech to the Legislature. Whitmer herself savaged the story on Twitter. Much of Michigan’s media have covered it and now outlets like CNN, the Daily Mail and the Washington Post have taken notice.
Here’s a roundup:
On CNN, host Michael Smerconish ran a segment called “Sexism in Politics.”
He said it was “supposed to be the year of the woman,” but noted a local TV station was more focused on Whitmer’s appearance.
“That was absolutely appalling, that, that was said about the Michigan governor,” he declared.
CNN included a graphic of some of the graphic remarks made about the governor and Smerconish stopped reading when he was only a couple comments in.
“I really can’t even read the rest of these,” Smerconish said. “But take a look.”
Smerconish then transitioned into talking about what women running for president have to face, including Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand.
The Daily Mail
In typical fashion, the U.K.-based Daily Mail featured a paragraph-long headline: “Michigan Governor hits back at trolls who criticized her ‘curves’ during her State of the State address and says she’s been teased about her body since the 5th grade.”
In the story, the Mail writes that “Fox’s segment displayed screen shots of sexist and unflattering comments social media users made about Whitmer. Then reporters went out and asked people on the streets their opinions on her dress.” The piece also featured Whitmer’s tweets.
“The Erik Wemple Blog has spent decades marveling at the mediocrity of local TV news. The cheesy profile pieces, the non-investigative investigations, the run-of-the-mill crime stories, the stand-ups at the site of a robbery that went down hours and hours previously.
“However: We’d never sampled anything so putrid as the Fox 2 Detroit story headlined ‘Social media focuses on Whitmer’s dress — not her address.‘”
“‘Way out of line’: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blasts TV station over story on her dress, body” was the headline in the right-leaning Washington Times. The story noted criticism from the right and left:
“Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield of Levering blasted the story, tweeting that it was ‘ridiculous’ and ‘never should have given these losers a platform to make these inappropriate statements. Her speech was what mattered!’ State Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes, who tweeted that the station should pull the online article, accused it of using anonymous comments to take ‘a cheap, sexist & indefensible shot at a strong woman in leadership.’”
Refinery 29, a news site focused on young women, ran the headline: “Governor Gretchen Whitmer Won’t Stand For Sexist Comments About What She Wears.” The story had a feminist take:
“The story quickly faced backlash for being sexist and demeaning, with good reason. A person’s ability to effectively lead and govern has nothing to do with their physical appearance, and sartorial choices or body shaming are not valid critiques of an elected official.”