• Tue, May 31 2011

FOX News Turned Me Into A TV Slut

There’s been a lot of talk in the last week about Ed Shultz calling Laura Ingraham a slut. A talk slut.

Why? Because calling women sluts is bad. Especially when you mean it in a derogatory way. (It’s way better when you’re informing your slut friends they’ve done a good job with something.)

Unfortunately for Shultz, he used the wrong terminology (and seems like a bit of an ass). Perhaps the better term for such women is “news babe.” Because there is decidedly a look that is preferred by women on TV. And especially at FOX.  Which I can write about first hand, because the one time I went on FOX News, they made me look like a completely different person.

About two years ago, I was asked to be on FOX. It was deep into the summer, on a Friday. Meaning that everyone of importance had left New York. Meaning that FOX was desperate for commentators to come on their Friday evening show. Meaning that somehow one of their assistant producers had spent so much time trolling the internet that she found me.

I’d written an article that week about the eminent New York Times paywall. The newspaper announced that it would install a paywall (which is now in place) nearly a year before it actually happened. This now (and then) seems like an inordinate amount of time to take to put up a payment system, but The New York Times decided the world needed time to adjust to the news and surveyed their readers to see how they’d feel about paying. For talking heads, it was perfect kind of story. Theoretical topics are much more fun to debate than facts. Facts are boring. And possible to prove wrong.

But the talking head crew had cleared out for the weekend, so an associate producer from Neil Cavuto’s show called me up and asked me to come talk about how stupid this idea was, based on the article I had written. They offered to drive me home from the studio, but considering I only lived ten blocks away, I told them I’d walk. And so I headed up to Newscorp for my brief segment.

A very attractive, tall blond woman in tottering heels greeted me at the security desk. She enthusiastically walked me back toward makeup, and I remember thinking “Why is this person who is a talking head walking me around the Newscorp building like she doesn’t have anything better to do?”.

When I got to makeup, this young woman introduced me to two new woman and stood quietly while my hair was teased, foundation and blush were applied to my face and eye shadow was applied more carefully than I’ve ever done myself.

When I looked in the mirror, I could sort of recognize that I was still there underneath all that makeup, but I was pretty surprised to see how I had completely transformed into a Fox News babe.

I was even more surprised when I got into the holding room where guests waited to be called up. I was greeted by another young woman who looked surprisingly similar to the girl who had been escorting me around the building. She was excited to see us both, and while a male producer began explaining to me the format of the show and when I’d go on, I noticed that the two of them were chatting about their outfits and started applying more makeup to their already very done up faces.

And then I realized that if it’s your job to babysit television show guests who look a certain way, it would make sense to start looking that way so you fit in.

A few minutes later a woman walked off set. She was clearly was in the habit of doing this more than I. Wearing a form fitting suit and had amazingly large hair that offset her incredibly tiny waist and bouncy chest, she spoke in the kind of voice that you usually only hear on TV. And I started to think that maybe I had bitten off more than I was prepared for with this little field trip.

She was just saying hello to the crew, but everyone agreed with her and told her she was great. And I suddenly felt like I was not in the right place. This immensely confident woman was tailor made for this job. I was convinced that she could talk at length about any subject brought to her and expound with verve regardless of the accuracy of her statements (which is probably the general requirement for being a talking head really).

I’d actually spent some time thinking and writing about the topic I was about to speak on, but I suddenly felt like I was just entirely out of place and about to embarrass myself.

But then I remembered: I did look like I was supposed to be here! I’d been FOX Newsified just for the occasion.

Even if I was embarrassed, or red faced even, no one would notice! I was wearing a protective cover of makeup to mask any of my normal emotions on TV.

And suddenly, it was my turn to go on. I walked through the chilled studio and onto the set for Neil Cavuto’s show. Except it wasn’t exactly Your World With Neil Cavuto that day. Because Neil Cavuto wasn’t there. It was a slow news day, remember? So it stepped into Your World With Some Other Guy who sat  in the host chair asked me a few questions.

He tried to bait me into entirely condemning The New York Times a few times, but I successfully dodged that bullet and got in a few points I thought were worthwhile while also staring into a large camera and avoiding saying the word… Um… repeatedly.

And then after all of that buildup, in less than 2 minutes I was done. The producers and assistants waved in my general direction and I headed down to the lobby.

I walked back to my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen with my big poufy hair and felt a little bit like a crazy person, because there was a pretty big contrast between me and the normals wandering around Time Square. That and the fact that I was still wearing my regular work clothes and just inexplicable had 2 pounds of intense makeup on my face.

When I got home, I took these pictures.

Considering that I have the kind of hair that does not like to maintain any shape for very long, I should note that my coif at this moment was about half the size that it was when I actually appeared on television.

Here, I believe I was trying to make a “FOX News face” for posterity purposes. That night, I recorded the segment on my DVR, but sadly it was lost from the device when I moved to Brooklyn a few months later. (I feel like there is something really sad about the non-portability of digital culture in there, but I digress).

My boyfriend at the time was a bit apoplectic when he saw me that night. (And no, I didn’t ditch him because of his reaction, we’re just engaged now.) Last night when he saw these pictures on my computer again, he said:

“Mnnn. When are you going on FOX News again!?”

I don’t really wear makeup a lot, so it was a bit of a switch for me to look like that.  And while I think it would be creepy if I looked like a FOX News Babe all the time, it was interesting to look like someone else for a day. To give you some reference, this is what I look like right now (sans makeup, plus humidity):

Nevertheless, there is a lesson in all this still, that’s pretty basic. The women who appear on FOX (and other network news shows) aren’t sluts, nor are they a race of female bred explicitly for this purpose. They just all have the same makeup crew.

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  • Jen Wright

    You look pretty now! And when you look like a superslut.

    • Ashley Cardiff

      yeah! cutest superslut ever.

    • Meghan Keane

      Thanks, sluts!

  • Mark Graham

    Question from a Superfan: Which makeup are you going with on your wedding day? Enquiring minds want to know!

    • Meghan Keane

      A wise man once told me, “A bride can never be too slutty on her wedding day.”

      And then a homeless man walking by with a shopping cart responded: “Shut up!”

      Still haven’t decided which one I’m going to listen to.

  • Eileen

    Haha, one of my best friends from freshman year now works on Fox News (for the record, she’s also one of the most intelligent and hardest-working women I know). And she…now dresses like a Fox News girl all the time. I was shocked the last time I saw her when I realized how much makeup was on her face (and this is an attractive person who always looked like a perfect perky cheerleader in class). Plus, she’s a toothpick, but looks perfectly normal-sized on television.

  • Ned

    It’s crazy how much older all that makeup makes you look.

  • Vinz Klortho

    Great face, but what about the rack? Any help from the make-up crew on that?

    Vinz

  • noway

    If you had an HDTV, you would be glad to see what they put make-up on you, rather than let your appear normal.

  • Nicole

    I can’t believe I didn’t even recognize my own sister!! i think that in and of itself points out how much makeup they use

  • Tedward

    Upvote for sans-makeup Meghan.
    Slut-casual beats intimidating TV slut any day of the week.

  • kimberlydawn

    If you ask me, you just think you are cute, and that’s the only reason you found this excuse to post big giant pictures of yourself and talk about yourself the whole time, so guys could write in the comments: Oh, you’re so adorable without make-up..you probably took fifty shots before you got the one SANS make-up that you think is adorable enough….