“It is 2017, and this grown man is on my show talking with me — a female host — about boobs. Is this seriously happening?”
On Friday afternoon, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin waded into the ongoing debate around Jemele Hill accurately describing Donald Trump as a white supremacist. Her guests were Keith Reed, a former editor at ESPN, and Clay Travis, a former Fox Sports personality who’s advertising his own show as a non-judgmental safe space for people who might be called white supremacists.
Travis chose to sum up his position like so: “I believe in only two things completely: the First Amendment and boobs.” In response, Baldwin, sagely, kicked him off the air.
She gave some background on what happened on Saturday, in an op-ed that explains her reactions in real-time. As she acknowledges, she was visibly stunned. Her producer even clamored for some other explanation, asking into Baldwin’s earpiece if Travis actually said “booze.” But no, he proudly confirmed, he meant to say “boobs.”
The newsroom around me fell silent. I was staring into the camera trying to make sense of what was unfolding on live television. I even caught my cameraman Jay’s eyes in disbelief. I thought again: “It is 2017, and this grown man is on my show talking with me — a female host — about boobs. Is this seriously happening?”
So she took an extraordinary step: she cut his mic and kicked him off the air. Even when Don Lemon lost his cool on his own CNN show while talking to Jeffrey Lord back in April, he cut the segment short instead of singling out Lord and continuing the conversation without him. Baldwin didn’t settle for that. She didn’t end the show, she just took it away as a platform for Travis.
The thing is — this is not okay. Speaking to women like this is unacceptable. It is 2017. Why is this even happening?
I’ve spent much of my year — when you don’t see me every day from 2-4 p.m. ET on CNN — interviewing women. It’s a passion project of mine called “American Woman” with leading ladies you’ll recognize. An idea born out of my covering the 2016 presidential campaign and the aftermath.
Talking to young women, seeing firsthand how so many of them feel empowered and with a desire to be heard and get involved. I want to help lift women’s voices. And I realize, in doing that, I need to use my own.
Even as the White House is calling for Hill to be fired for what she’s said, the shriller elements of the far right are demanding unlimited and criticism-free access to platforms where they can shill their terrible ideas. So it’s unsurprising that Travis thought saying he “believed in” the First Amendment and boobs would not only get him attention, but shield him from criticism. And Baldwin opted to not play the game at all and remind Travis that freedom from responsibility isn’t a thing.
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.
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