In the latest employee scandal at Fox News, it was revealed by the Huffington Post that Eric Bolling, co-host of “The Five,” was recently suspended from the network for sending lewd text messages to colleagues. This should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone vaguely familiar with Fox News and the culture they have promoted for the best part of three decades. The company is rotten from the top down, and was led for decades by pervert Roger Ailes, himself dismissed from the company for sexual harassment. Reported the Huff Post:
Eric Bolling, a longtime Fox News host, sent an unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one colleague at Fox News, a dozen sources told HuffPost.
Recipients of the photo confirmed its contents to HuffPost, which is not revealing their identities. The women, who are Bolling’s current and former Fox colleagues, concluded the message was from him because they recognized his number from previous work-related and informal interactions. The messages were sent several years ago, on separate occasions.
The women did not solicit the messages, which they told colleagues were deeply upsetting and offensive. One of the recipients said that when she replied to Bolling via text, telling him never to send her such photos again, he did not respond. Four people, outside of the recipients, confirmed to HuffPost they’d seen the photo, and eight others said the recipients had spoken to them about it.
Bolling recently tweeted that he was looking “forward to clearing my name asap”, but his immediate suspension by the network does not bode well for him. There was no announcement of a “vacation”, or “time off” to be with family. Bolling was on air one day, and off the next.
In truth, the Fox News brand of conservatism is inherently sexist, and Eric Bolling fit the culture of the organization perfectly. Roger Ailes and other nasty misogynists like Bill O’Reilly created their own little fiefdom of male assholishness that emanated directly from their own political philosophies. The network presents a disgruntled, middle-aged, white man’s perspective of America complete with all the sexual dysfunction that goes along with it. Tirelessly promoting the mythology of deviant immigrants, criminal black males and welfare queens destroying the fabric of American society, Fox News has pitched itself as the last bastion of white male power in America, battling relentlessly against the “liberal media” and all the armed lesbians controlling the minds of young children. Bolling has done his utmost to perpetuate this narrative, and has been a vocal defender of all things white male for years. Here was Media Matters on Bolling’s persistent on-air sexism:
Bolling had a pattern of making sexist remarks as a co-host of Fox News’ The Five. In 2014, Bolling had to apologize for asking if the first female pilot for the United Arab Emirates, who conducted bombing against Islamic State terrorists, “would … be considered boobs on the ground.” Later that year, Bolling said men are “more successful … and better leaders” than women. In 2013, he lamented that allowing young girls to play football was part of “the wussification of American men.” The year before, he had criticized a story of a 9-year-old girl playing football, saying, “Let the boys be boys, let the girls be girls.” And in 2015, Bolling cackled in response to co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle’s remark that “anything a guy can do, a woman can do better.”
While Fox has diligently sought to hire women who have internalized this unique form of waspish misogyny, hiring women like Michelle Malkin, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter to promote the “traditionalist” perspective, times they are a changin’. Even the women at Fox News are becoming aware that they don’t have to put up with sexist douchebags anymore and are finally speaking out about harassment in the workplace.
In fairness to Fox, they are making real efforts to change the culture created by Roger Ailes and the people he hired, but when you build a company that explicitly bases itself on presenting the views of conservative white men, it will take more than hiring some women executives to truly transform it. Eric Bolling won’t be the last asshole fired for sexual misconduct at Fox News — he’s just another symptom of a disease that goes to the core of what the company really is, and always has been.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.