The more sexy a man finds a reporter or newscaster, the less likely he is to call her qualified for serious reporting, according to a study from the Indiana University’s Communication Research, as relayed by Salon. The set-up had a 24-year-old woman perform a report on war or politics twice, once without formfitting clothes and again in an outfit meant to show off her waist-to-hip ratio. As her waist-to-hip ratio went up, her credibility went down, but only among men. Which reminds us, unfortunately, of Fox News’ Roger Ailes, in light of the confessions of a former Fox News employee, who claims that the network just flat out makes stuff up.
The study did not address homosexuality or overall perceptions about the different between when men read the news and when women do. But Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams raised the clarifying point that “the researchers had the same woman deliver the same news report. Her ability didn’t change based on the tightness of her top, only the perception of it did.”
And as this these tend to do, it brings us back to Fox News and its honcho Roger Ailes, who watches a wall of television screens in his office, all on mute. In a recent profile in Esquire, Ailes asked the writer where his eyes were drawn to on the TV wall:
You really want to know the truth, Mr. Ailes?
We don’t know about you, but Esquire’s eye goes to the screen featuring your creamy redhead, Jenna Lee.
Sure, that’s a Fox screen, and so you win again. But — if you don’t mind our saying so — it didn’t exactly require an advanced degree in TV geniusology to see the potential of Ms. Jenna Lee.
But Ailes was proud to say he made her that way:
“Well, she didn’t look anything like she looks now when she came here. She’d just completed Columbia journalism school, and she wanted to be a writer. But I met with her and sent her down to hair and makeup to clean her up a little. When she came back, I took a look at her and said, ‘What would you think of going on air?’ I had to work with her a little to bring her pitch down, and now she’s going to be a big star. And she wanted to be a writer.”
But the issue of credibility comes up again when you take into account the content airing — with the volume turned up — on Fox News. An ex-Ailes employee told Media Matters, in a story yesterday, “I don’t think people would believe it’s as concocted as it is; that stuff is just made up.” And so on:
“Like any news channel there’s lot of room for non-news content. The content that wasn’t ‘news,’ they didn’t care what we did with as long as it was amusing or quirky or entertaining; as along as it brought in eyeballs.”
In other words, viewers don’t have to like the news, or even trust it. They just have to watch.