On Friday, The Hollywood Reporter published a talk it recently held with female TV news stars, and Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien mixed it up over Sarah Palin.
Kelly argued that there was definitely a sexist media bias against Palin, especially the strange liberal argument that she couldn’t balance work and family life. Sticking up for the liberal media’s anti-Palin bias, O’Brien got personal with Kelly, asking her how many children she had. Kelly said none. O’Brien said she has four, so "I don’t dismiss it." I’d dare anyone to say on CNN that O’Brien shouldn’t be trying to do both. CNN, in fact, was the quickest to assume Palin could not do both. NBC’s Hoda Kotb got the discussion started:
HODA KOTB: I was talking to some people in the makeup room one day at work, and one person said, "Gosh, everyone's been so hard on Sarah Palin." And I said, "No one knows her. We don't know anything about her, so you have to start from the bottom up." Did you guys think it was sexist?
MEGYN KELLY: There was definite sexist coverage of Sarah Palin. In particular, the questions that were raised about how could she be both vice president and a mother. That was absolutely ridiculous. People saw this as an opportunity to rip on conservatives and the conservative movement, because this is red meat for people who don't like conservative women. The conservatives have, in the past, criticized some liberal women who wanted to both work and have children, so here's a conservative woman -- arguably far right -- who comes out and says she can do it all and she wants to do it all, and some of her detractors saw that as red meat and potential hypocrisy.
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: How many kids do you have?
KELLY: I don't have any children.
O'BRIEN: OK, so I have four. It's really hard, and any mother would say it is really hard to do it all. So I think sometimes, don't dismiss it, because a lot of times the women who were raising that question were women with children who actually were on both sides of the political aisle.
This question came next:
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Do you think your subjects treat you differently when you cover them because of your gender?
O'BRIEN: Does being hit on count?
Is that a Bill Clinton question? Kelly said she drew a lot of hurtful negative e-mail when she began anchoring with Bill Hemmer on FNC about being blond, but then she talked about her "ninja" skills when guests underestimate her:
One of the greatest advantages you can have is somebody underestimating you. Having a guest come on, and they're looking for an argument and they want to make it contentious and they see my blonde hair, and they think (snorts in disdain). And then I bust out my ninja litigating skills.
The women also discussed whether there’s too much soft news and infotainment, and that spurred O’Brien to hammer critics of Katie Couric:
When Katie [Couric] went to [anchor the CBS Evening News], it was, "Well, she did the Peter Pan costume [on NBC's Today]." The woman had a reputation for grilling people that I think was unparalleled in morning television! And to have her career distilled down to a Peter Pan moment was not only unfair but absurd.
Where on Earth does O’Brien get the idea Couric was unparalleled as a tough interviewer? Did she ever watch Couric spoon-feed Hillary Clinton?