ABC Radio Host Wants Full-Frontal Nudity from Bush Press Sec. Dana Perino
December 3, 2008, ABC Radio hosts Lee Rodgers, "Officer Vic" and Wall Street Journal Reporter "Buck" McQuillian discuss the possibility of hiring outgoing Presidential Press Secretary Dana Perino to work at top conservative San Francisco station KSFO.
Rodgers wonders if "full frontal nudity" in the studio would be part of Parino's role, to show off her "great rack". (Windows Audio link, MP3, transcript)
Imagine you are a communications professional. You have successfully managed a tough job dealing with complex issues of international importance. Your old job is going away in a few days. You hear that a big communications company wants to hire you, but the men who work there are known for being crude and sexist. How sexist? Their top money maker has said publicly that he wants you personally to provide him and his colleagues with full-frontal nudity in the office. Another guy, whose colleagues you've worked with daily, chimes in that if nudity is involved he's interested!
The job market is tight. This other company will pay you a TON of money. What do you do?
The job offers challenging work and the COO of the organization is one of the most influential women in the industry. They support, defend and encourage this guys' comments. If they can do that, maybe you could too. Of course nobody is forcing you to take this job, but this company works with most of the really important people in your industry.
Everyone tells you that the guys were just joking. You are used to frat boys and their jokes, like gas passing in the office. You know how to hang out with "the guys".
You know that in this environment when someone proclaims "It's a JOKE!" the burden is switched to you to prove it's not a joke. If you challenged them they reply, "What? Can't you take a joke? " To management, not having the "guy" sense of humor about sexist comments is really a bigger problem than what was said. It's almost as bad as being seen as being "politically correct".
Your previous job was with powerful men, this job is with money-making men. Your job is to keep him earning and protect him. He's a producer, you are staff. He's seen as an asset, not a liability. The company has other assets and other earners, but he's made tens of millions of dollars for the firm. In management's eyes as long as he doesn't break the law he's golden (even then they will defend him). He's not going to change.
It turns out almost all the top guys seem to be sexist, even the company's latest hire. The more money the guy makes, the more people support him. What's especially strange is the way people who disagree with these guys still say they will fight "to the death" for this guys' right to talk about you nude. It's like in their universe the normal rules of 21st century professionalism and human resources don't exist.
What is perplexing to you is all the women and decent guys who support this guy. You are told to just ignore what he says publicly, it's just a "shtick", you hear in private he's not that bad. All the big moneymakers are like this, or worse. What do you do?
If you walk into this environment, you can't ever complain to the head of HR or the company's legal counsel they will point out you knew what the guys were like before you joined. If you say anything it will be you who doesn't have a "good sense of humor", is easily offended, isn't a team player, or is trying to be "politically correct."
You talk to your friends about this and they are astonished that this guy doesn't get a talking to from management. You explain that the rules are different in this industry. Management actively hires people who are known sexist and racists, just as long as they generate cash. One of their top earners even insults the nationality and race of the top boss saying that "[For Egyptians and other Arab cultures], lying is as natural as breathing" (audio link) You would think that a combination of racist AND sexism would be a problem, but the boss doesn't worry about what a top earner says about anyone. He actively looks for and hires guys like this. Everyone is afraid to say something that might make the top earner angry because he might go elsewhere.
What do you do? The easy answer is to stay away. But these are your "tribe", they are tops in the field, and if you don't take the job people will think that YOU are the crazy one for taking some joking sexist comments seriously.
Many big commercial organizations want to be associated with him even though they would NEVER allow one of their executives to talk like this.
The rules of 21st century professionalism don't seem exist at this firm or within this industry. It's all about the top earners' "right" to broadcast to the whold world his desire to talk about seeing you naked in the office.
What do you do?
I've asked my favorite feminist blogger, Echidne, to allow me to guest post this on her blog because it was there that it was pointed out to me the ubiquitous of sexist talk on AM radio and how it is ignored, especially as compared to racism.
I'm proud to call myself a feminist since 8th grade. When I look at my life I see that my best friends, biggest supporters and strongest allies have been feminists.
After Sarah Palin became part of the Republican ticket some talk radio hosts suddenly became supporters of women. I think they loved doing the switch because it supposedly caused liberals heads to explode.
If you haven't yet, please listen to the audio. Hear their exact words, the tone, the guffawing. I'm not making this up. I WANT people to hear this. I would especially like the women who run Citadel Broadcasting to hear these three men.
Rodgers' KSFO producer is a woman. Rodgers regularly refers to her as his "executive seducer".
(instead of executive producer. Get it? It's a JOKE!) She knows that she is supposed to be just one of the guys and, like Robin Quivers, is supposed to make stern frowny faces when he goes too far. But for these guys nothing is too far. The host of this program has talked about killing millions of innocent Muslims, torturing and executing a man with multiple arrests, and beating to death protesters. I thought that maybe losing 28 advertisers because of this violent rhetoric would have caught the management's attention. They just kept supporting him. They still mistakenly see him as an asset, not a liability. How much money do these hosts have to cost them? I tried to tell the Disney people over and over again these people are not good for the bottom line.
Old men cackling about professional women having to get naked for their enjoyment. Nothing new there. Tune into any Morning Zoo programs like "Dingo and the Baby" and you might hear something like this, but this program is sold to advertisers as the number one conservative political talk program in the Bay Area. Contrary to my Vulcan appearance, I do know the difference between a comedy show and a political talk show. I know the difference between a journalist and a ideologue.
This show books governors, ambassadors and congress people. They regularly book intellectual heavyweights from the conservative right. This isn't sold to advertisers as wacky sound effects and celebrity gossip. This is "News and views you won't hear anywhere else."
They discuss important issues with:
- Thomas Del Beccaro, the Vice Chairman of the California Republican Party
- John Fund from the Wall Street Journal
- Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family has his own segment during the show.
"Dear Dr. Dobson. My 7 year old boy wants to know what full-frontal nudity is. I can't imagine where he even heard the phrase. We listen to your show faithfully on KSFO in San Francisco."
What if he was your spokesperson? Maybe they expect all the women who listen to be "team players" who "can take a joke". Maybe they expect no women to listen at all.
I know that there will be a group of women and men who will be disgusted by this but still launch into the mantra, "Rodgers has his right to say what ever he wants on the radio."
But as Matt Zimmerman from the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, "While such radio personalities certainly have a right to air their views, the First Amendment says nothing about a right to advertiser-subsidized speech."
The company Rodgers works for, Citadel Broadcasting Corporation (NYSE:CDL) is the third largest radio group in the United States. It is run by highly-paid professionals. But apparently the rules of 21st century professionalism don't exist at this firm.
Updated 1-16-2009 Changed Givens to Quivers, thanks Abel Undercity!