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Memo to Neil Cavuto: Your Sexism Is So 80’s

Reported by Julie - October 14, 2009 -

On October 13, 2009, my News Hounds colleague, Brian, did an excellent post about Neil Cavuto entitled, “Neil Cavuto’s Make-Believe World About Fox News And The White House”, in which Brian held Cavuto up to scrutiny about his use of his editorial to bash White House Communication Director, Anita Dunn. I followed up later in the day with a post on Brit Hume being trotted out to scold the White House for Dunn’s comments and rise to the defense of Fox News. So there I was, watching the video again, and I started listening more closely to his rhetoric. A lot of vitriolic hand-wringing – but what stood out was the sexist venom Cavuto displayed toward Dunn. With video.

Said Cavuto in reference to Dunn’s comments: “Let’s not pretend they’re a news network . . . she just said that on CNN after saying the same to Time Magazine. Lately it’s been her schtick, her game, so Ms. Dunn, let’s continue playing it, shall we? Let’s pretend you’re serious, let’s pretend you’re not a tad, oh, I don’t know, thin-skinned . . . Let’s pretend you get your facts straight . . . Let’s pretend you are open to criticism . . . Let’s pretend when someone opposes your view they might have a point and when you simply refuse to accept it you’re the one who might not have a clue . . . Let’s pretend you work for the President of the United States and not some left-wing blog in the United States. Let’s pretend you’re as big as the historic place you work and not as petty as the less than historic words you spout . . . So let’s pretend you’re focused on the issues that matter and not the petty squabbles that do not, just as we should pretend you’re not overwrought and snapping – maybe you’re just overworked and snippy.” (Sexist comments, my emphasis).

Can you imagine Cavuto calling some guy “overworked and snippy” or “overwrought and snapping?” If you focus on Cavuto’s rhetoric, you’ll note his fury – and the direction of it. It was full-out, balls to the wall, “get this harpy out of here.” It’s laughable to think of Cavuto using any of these words in reference to, say, Rahm Emanuel. He wouldn’t dare. It’s the fact that Dunn is a female that he felt emboldened to criticize her professional acumen by using language that portrays her as nothing more than the White House’s “little woman.”

We get your message, Cavuto. Women, of course, are only capable of playing games. And women, logically, since we only play games, are purely incapable of being serious. Thin-skinned? Sheesh, we can’t take criticism in our professional lives for shit. And clueless – we’re clueless like you wouldn’t believe. Don’t even start me on petty -- we can’t gossip by the water cooler for a minute without engaging in petty squabbles. And most women in the professional world can’t get through a day without becoming overwrought and snapping. I mean, we just can’t handle it like men can – our hormones or something just make us act overworked and snippy.

Sure, Dunn had some harsh words for Fox – and it’s high time someone from the White House did. But Cavuto didn’t simply direct his fury at her professionalism – he used language that belittled and demeaned her. I guess we can just be glad he didn’t talk about her hair-do or her legs.

But damn, Neil, I gotta say this: You, yourself, are looking a little overwrought and snappy. Could it be because you’re overworked and snippy? I’m thinking you can’t possibly be as petty as the less than historic words you spout. Surely, as a professional tough-as-leather journalist, you’re not that thin-skinned. Petty squabbles? Pot, meet kettle.