Let me begin by saying that the “Boobgate” controversy, or whatever you want to call it, is entirely dumb. Plenty of what makes up the news cycle is anyway, right? People love to focus on the shallow. Substantive things don’t fit neatly into 15-second soundbites.
Our outrage meters are at an all-time high. Social media usually fuels it all.
“Have you seen ____ said __________? Can you believe it? I’m so outraged.”
Said shallow concern usually lasts until the next outrage cycle. Rinse, repeat.
One such outrage began on a live CNN show Friday afternoon while Brooke Baldwin was in the middle of an interview.
Here she is in her own words.
It was Friday afternoon, and I was on live TV, in the second hour of my show on CNN. I had just introduced two guests, former ESPN Senior Editor Keith Reed and Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis, who had agreed to come on to discuss the White House call for ESPN to dismiss anchor Jemele Hill after she called the President a “white supremacist” on Twitter.
These were two men with opposing opinions. I was ready for them to present their opinions and maybe even argue.
I wasn’t prepared for what came next from Clay Travis — a guest we should never have booked in the first place.
“I believe in the First Amendment and boobs.”
Side note: I’ve been a journalist for 17 years — the past seven spent at CNN hosting a live show. I’ve seen and heard some things. But when I first heard “boobs” from a grown man on national television (in 2017!!!) my initial thought bubble was: “Did I hear that correctly?? There’s no WAY he just came on my show and said what I think he said. … DID HE?” And I let it hang.
My executive producer Eric (who has worked with me for years) knows me, read my face and quickly got in my ear from the control room and asked: “Did he say ‘booze’?” Apparently, my producers behind the scenes were all scrambling, trying to figure out the same thing. “What did he just say?”
I just couldn’t let this go.
So I jumped back in and spelled it out like a fourth-grade boy: “b-double-o-b-s?!”
Yes. “Boobs.” He eventually confirmed: “boobs.” Almost proud, smirking.
The thing is — this is not okay. Speaking to women like this is unacceptable. It is 2017. Why is this even happening?
As for my guest today — despite what he’s tweeting, he won’t be coming back on my show — ever. He works at Fox Sports Radio. Maybe he should learn from folks over at Fox News — being demeaning to women does have consequences.
Immediately after the episode occurred, hot takes started flying around. The dudebros and those like them, who are 21 (or still act like they’re 21) thought it was “awesome, man.” Meanwhile, across the way, pearls were clutched and shock and horror rippled around the room.
Congratulations, everyone! You’re all wrong.
I’m well aware that heterosexual males swoon over the female form. This is a known fact to anyone with at least two working brain cells. That can be true while also recognizing that not every situation demands some type of neanderthal comment to a female anchor about how you love “the first amendment and boobs.” But no one has ever confused elderly dudebro Clay Travis of being a rocket scientist.
Despite the fact that more than one thing can be true of a situation at the same time, the vast majority of especially conservative and GOP Twitter took their own pearl clutching offense at the notion that Travis’ comment might be – gasp! – unsuitable.
Those of us, myself included, who dared to say his comments weren’t appropriate received a stamp of “purity queen” and “prude” from incredibly boorish individuals who were, like, totally on Clay Travis’ ill-mannered side, man.
As the very dumb situation shows, everything really is binary. One must either get all Mother Teresa after an episode like this or dip a toe into the pool of idiocy, pump that fist of freedom, and declare that loving boobs is only natural, so dudes should be loud and proud of it anytime they want.
Sorry, I’ll take the common sense route, please.
The world isn’t coming to an end in 2017 because Baldwin heard the word “boobs” while on air. Declaring Clay Travis’ behavior (which I hear is often this brainless) to be inappropriate in that moment won’t clip the wings of your freedom eagle, Middle America.
Take a breath. Not everything is an outrage for – or against – your precious side.
Remember, we live in an era when women knit pink p***y hats and march the streets declaring the president isn’t actually their president. They must resist misogyny at the highest level! This fact makes it all the more amusing that Ms. Baldwin reacted so strongly to the term “boobs” when her own network gleefully covered those marchers as they paraded embarrassingly around D.C. and elsewhere. Brooke says “it’s 2017!!” as if the turning of the calendar alone ushers in progress and increased civility.
Hint: it doesn’t from either side.
But don’t take my word for it. This opinion that both sides continue to overreact to anything, and are incapable of accepting even mild admonishment, is just my opinion as a purity queen.