News with Nuance March 24, 2023
Your Friday dose of News with Nuance: the week's biggest stories, unpacked + more ..
I don’t know about you, but this has felt like one of those: “hurry up and wait” weeks - both at our house and in the news cycle. It’s not just the unrealized but well-publicized hype about former President Donald Trump’s potential indictment and/or arrest - or the impending doom about our climate and human contributions to our planet’s demise, as I continue to use plastics and buy gasoline for my car, albeit shamefully.
There are just some weeks when it feels like something is (about) to happen (like maybe someday the snow in the alley will melt and I’ll be able to get my car out of the garage in fewer than 17 pinpoint turns) - but that something hasn’t happened yet.
Personally, I’m continuing to explore what’s going to happen with my potential second book, and awaiting some exciting developments in speaking engagements and courses I’ll be teaching in Christian Nationalism.
We’re also waiting for Spring Break and (hey!) it’s my Birthday tomorrow (Saturday).
In the midst of that waiting, though, there are still important stories to tell and truths to uncover and lies to deconstruct. In that vein, let’s get to the news this week: touching on the importance (and destructiveness) of company and corporate culture, an alternative to wealth inflation and corporate overlords, and contrasting the power of Lent in the local church vs right-wing pundits’ crucifixion complex around Donald Trump.
Don’t lose heart while we await whatever is coming next,
The Headline: Tucker Carlson producer’s discrimination claims go beyond Dominion scandal
While FOX News is under fire and being sued for perpetuating untrue claims about Dominion voting software, the network was sued again this week by veteran TV news producer Abby Grossberg, who alleged that “the network is rife with sexist, misogynistic, and abusive behavior.”
Now before you quickly say, “Hey Abby, didn’t you know that before you took a job working at the leading pioneer of misinformation and hate-mongering?” - let’s backtrack a moment. While FOX’s sexual misconduct toward female employees is well-documented enough to warrant a feature film, there’s also the well-documented fact that jobs in TV production aren’t exactly plentiful and well-paying, even for a veteran producer like Grossberg. Maybe she thought the network would change. Maybe she thought she could bring that change.
Whatever Grossberg thought, her eyewitness to exactly what was happening behind the scenes at FOX and Tucker Carlson Tonight is both unsurprising and essential. Grossberg brings to light the ways that male executives at FOX frequently belittled even leading conservative news hosts like Maria Bartiromo (herself one of the top propagators of lies about the 2020 election) with sexist language. Grossberg also talks about blown up posters of Nancy Pelosi in a bikini (bizarre) and newsroom debates about which Michigan gubernatorial candidate was “hotter.”
Listen. I spent about 5 years as a sports reporter frequenting professional sports locker rooms, including time as a hockey beat reporter - and I can’t imagine a more hostile working environment for women than what Grossberg describes at FOX News. I never heard talk like that in actual locker rooms, nor did I hear such blatant disrespect for women. But maybe that’s because most male professional athletes and coaches are actually secure about their own manhood, unlike the men working for FOX - but I digress …
I’ve also spent the rest of my professional work life in another place that can be pretty hostile to women: the ministry and the Church. And again, FOX News is worse. But maybe what it has in common with the Church’s treatment of women is the ways in which ideology and practice go hand in hand to sanction abuse and marginalize entire groups of people. These things are not disconnected. Corporate culture breeds lies, rhetoric, and shapes entire belief systems - and vice versa.
It’s tempting to believe that hiring a few well-placed women (or people of color, in corporate cultures where racism is prolific - which might be every corporate culture, let’s be honest) - will fix the problem. But that’s the too-quick fix of tokenism that does nothing to address systemic problems and often only re-victimizes marginalized people, as happened in Grossberg’s case.
Whatever her reasons for taking the job at FOX in the first place, it takes a lot of courage to stand up and speak out, as Grossberg is doing. I’m grateful. These truths and details need to be known.
Images of Fox News personalities, including Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, adorn the News Corp. building in New York City.
The lawsuit described how she was startled on her first day working for Carlson’s show in September.
She arrived at the office to see “many large and blown-up photographs of Nancy Pelosi in a plunging bathing suit revealing her cleavage. The images were plastered onto her computer and elsewhere throughout the office,” the lawsuit said.
The following day, according to the lawsuit, a senior executive producer of Carlson’s program, Justin Wells, called Grossberg into an office with another colleague, Alexander McCaskill, in attendance.
Wells allegedly asked Grossberg an “uncomfortable sexual question about her former boss: ‘Is Maria Bartiromo [sleeping with] Kevin McCarthy?’ Shocked, Ms. Grossberg replied ‘No,’ and quickly left the room,” the lawsuit said.
Staff members of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” had “frequently engaged in group discussions, led by Mr. McCaskill, in which misogynistic views of women as objects to be judged solely based on their appearance were broadcasted,” Grossberg’s lawsuit claims.
“In these discussions, no woman, whether she was a Republican politician or a female staffer at Fox News, was safe from suddenly becoming the target of sexist, demeaning comments,” the lawsuit said.
Story by Meg James, Los Angeles Times
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