The word “boobs” is not one you expect to hear often on live national news coverage, yet it made its unwelcome appearance recently in a CNN interview that has since gone viral.
The interview started out relatively typically – radio host Clay Travis was brought on by anchor Brooke Baldwin in order to discuss the recent controversy surrounding ESPN anchor Jemele Hill’s comments about President Trump.
Yet things took a turn when Travis proclaimed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, “I believe in only two things in this world – the First Amendment and boobs.”
Perhaps most shockingly, Travis then continued his stream of thought for another minute or so, discussing politics – the real reason for which he had been invited to CNN – as if he had not just made an entirely inappropriate and confusing interjection about boobs on national television.
Needless to say, Baldwin did not react with the same blasé attitude.
After several excruciating seconds of silence on Baldwin’s part, during which the anchor clearly grappled with what she had just heard, she blurted out, “Hold on. Hold on. I just want to make sure I heard you correctly, as a woman anchoring the show. What did you just say? You believe in the First Amendment and…? B-OO-B-S?”
“Boobs,” Travis confirmed, and returned to his argument.
The interview did not last long past this point, despite Travis’s attempts to steamroll over the confusion and outrage still evident on Baldwin’s face.
Former ESPN Senior Editor Keith Reed, the second interviewee being hosted, spoke up at this point as a friend of Jemele’s. “One of the things that Jemele’s had to deal with her entire career … is sexism, blatant sexism, comments about her appearance, comments about her racially, comments about her inability or perceived inability to comment on sports because of her gender, so for somebody to come on CNN and say [this] … it’s just – it’s astonishing!”
Baldwin finally voiced the question we had all been thinking: “Why would you even say that live on national television, and with a female host? Why would you even go there?”
Travis continued to react with feigned innocence, asking Reed why he wouldn’t mention his love of boobs on national television. Reed responded, “Why not? I’m a supporter of women in their careers, I’m a staunch supporter of women like Brooke, and of Jemele … and to have her anatomy brought up in this conversation?”
Baldwin promptly ended the interview here, unceremoniously “yanking the mic” on Travis.
Despite how undeniably terrible this short-lived interview was, it’s still heartening to see how outraged both Baldwin and Reed were in response to Travis’s comment. In fact, I would even argue that you should not give up your faith in humanity just yet.
Why? Because it’s impossible to deny that sexism happens and that inappropriate comments all over the world will continue to be made daily, but perhaps what is most threatening of all is the potential normalization of these comments – and that did not happen here.
Travis has been flaunting this interview as a win, telling his followers, “CNN got totally and completely triggered. Seriously, this thing plays out like an SNL skit. The other guy sputters and goes straight into offended pearl clutching mode.”
Yet this was not a win for Travis – it was a win for Baldwin, who used her power as a female anchor to cut off Travis’s nonsense and to send a clear message. It was a win for national news, which refused to give airtime to men denigrating women. And it was a win for everyone around the world who will not tolerate the casual integration of sexism into their news and daily lives.
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