This week a Massachusetts judge dismissed the conviction of a man who was caught surreptitiously taking photographs underneath the skirt of a female undercover transit officer. The dismissal was based on the judge’s contorted interpretation of the law that found that the woman was not “partially nude” and therefore not a victim.
The Massachusetts legislature quickly drafted and passed an amendment to the law that clarified what constituted a violation. Gov. Deval Patrick signed the bill Friday, making this statement:
“The legislation makes the secret photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveiling of another person’s sexual or other intimate parts, whether under or around a person’s clothing or when a reasonable person would believe that the person’s intimate parts would not be visible to the public, a crime.”
The media was all over this disturbing story with a nearly lascivious glee. It’s the sort of sex crime controversy that starts tabloid editors salivating. So it is not surprising that Fox News, the tabloidiest channel of them all, covered the story excitedly in their broadcast. However, Fox may be exposing themselves to legal liability due to their penchant for featuring the physical assets of their female hosts and guests.
The evidence that is abundantly available of Fox News videotaping “under or around a person’s clothing” could be used against them in a court of law. If one of their employees were to press charges it wouldn’t be difficult to make a case given the thousands of hours of video proof. What’s more, executives at Fox have privately admitted that exploiting the sexuality of their nearly all-blonde roster of women presenters is a key part of their corporate culture. Gabriel Sherman wrote in his biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” that Ailes has repeatedly given direction to his staff regarding the display of female body parts. For instance:
- When the view of reporter Kiran Chetry was obstructed, Ailes called the control booth to demand that they “Move that damn laptop, I can’t see her legs!”
- Ailes complained about host Catherine Crier’s attire saying that “I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.”
- The casting of The Five included one particular co-host because “I Need The Leg. That’s Andrea Tantaros.”
Furthermore, NPR’s media reporter David Folkenflik was told by knowledgeable sources about the Fox News “Leg Cam” that “goes directly for the legs.” And when host Megyn Kelly was interviewed by GQ (with an accompanying, and revealing, pictorial), she was asked about her own “glass table that shows off your legs.” She responded that “Well, It’s a visual business. People want to see the anchor.” That must be why Bill O’Reilly wears those low-cut blouses. Also, when Gretchen Carlson was tapped to replace Megyn Kelly in daytime, she revealed that “pants were not allowed on Fox & Friends,” and teased viewers with the prospect that on her new show “I might forget my clothes the first day.”
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It would fun to see Fox News get hit with an indictment for breaking the Massachusetts Peeping Tom law. But don’t hold your breath. The Foxettes are firmly committed to the mission of their employer despite the fact that they are being exploited as sexual objects. They know that their livelihood depends on the 60+ male demographic that makes up the bulk of their audience. So if they have to suffer the indignity of catering to those perverts, they suck it up, cash their hefty paychecks, and try to remember to keep their legs tightly crossed.