Stop the Sexualization of Television News

Published:  November 07, 2003

Updated:  December 21, 2003

The Sexualization of America is a subset phenomenon of the Vulgarization of America.  Part of the former phenomenon is the sexualization of female television newscasters, especially on cable television news. Over the last several years, we've grown accustomed, perhaps without realizing it, to the glamorization of the female newscaster. Woe to any woman working, or aspiring to work, as a television reporter or newsreader who does not look, or aspire to look, like a fashion model. There are a few exceptions, but the phenomenon is well-established.

Laurie Dhue of Fox Cable News

The year 2003, however, has seen an intensification of this pattern, evident in many ways.  View, for example, the video capture image of Laurie Dhue, right, the striking FOX News newscaster who apparently subscribes to the American adult-film-star school of visual style:   golden blonde hair, palpably full lips, perfect complexion, amazing body and legs, pump high-heels, and generally stunning and feminine in a sterile Barbie-doll sort of way. Given all this, I suppose we can at least cite a kind of consistency to the apparent network logic which dictated her gratuitous display of skin:  Ms. Dhue's admittedly luscious left leg is completely visible right up to the where her posterior begins.  And observe that this "newswoman" is wearing some kind of slitted skirt, which shows more flesh (this image cannot be dated with certainty to 2003).

In a second example, on November 07, 2003, the date of the original publication of this commentary, the afternoon broadcast of MSNBC had two attractive female newscasters sitting side-by-side at a desk with only a partial modesty panel. The blonde newscaster sitting this writer's left had a fairly short skirt on, such that her right leg was visible completely up to the top of her thigh, much like Ms. Dhue's provocative display, pictured here.

Did someone say integrity of broadcast journalism?

Additionally, the news programs have implemented a curious new protocol in camera direction:  at the end of a news segment the camera will frequency perform an aerial circular sweep around the anchor desk, giving viewers a bird's eye view of the newscasters from every angle. Now viewers can drool comprehensively over the fashion model newscasters; no luscious body part need be missed. Viewers can now drool over the backside and legs, as well as the face, figure, and breasts, of their favorite onscreen doll. This is a voyeur's dream come true, a good thing, since the American news-viewing public is increasingly trained to require a helping of sexual titillation and voyeuristic thrill with its serving of news. Much like the drug dealer faithfully delivers the narcotic he gets us hooked on, do the cable news networks deliver our daily helping of decreasingly disguised pulchritude.

The cable television news networks are urged to cease this steady creep in the sexualization of their female newscasters, a wrong-headed strategy of seduction for acquiring and retaining viewers. If they refuse, they might at least display some honesty and integrity by moving with all due speed to the place they're apparently headed, anyway--the complete sexualization of these women--by dropping all pretense at news and simply featuring the newscasters engaged in sex acts right up on their tables. We learned several years ago that major American Corporations such as AT&T and General Motors are now earning tidy sums in the pornography business, so, though perhaps still at the general periphery of plausibility, the suggestion of this writer, disturbingly, cannot be considered as errant as we'd wish.  All of American culture, including newscasting, is increasingly hewing to a pornographic standard.

Television news:  decide what business you're in and where you stand, then stand there honestly, one way or the other.


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