Via the Free Beacon, one of the more awkward moments you’ll ever see on cable news. The guest is Clay Travis, editor of Outkick the Coverage and a nemesis of ESPN. He was on to discuss the scrap between SportsCenter host Jemele Hill, who called Trump a white supremacist on Twitter a few days ago, and the White House, which called it a “fireable offense” and has continued to criticize the network with both POTUS and Sarah Huckabee Sanders chiming in today. They’re chatting here about ESPN’s political bent and whether corporate employees should be disciplined for political speech that alienates some of their consumers. And then Travis, uh — just watch the clip.
A Twitter pal imagines if the genders were reversed:
Imagine if a female guest was like
"I believe in the first amendment and cock!"
— Atticus Goldfinch (@AtticusGF) September 15, 2017
It’s not Travis’s joke that’s jarring, it’s the context. This is the sort of line that would zip right past on “Red Eye” with everyone laughing good-naturedly. Baldwin’s trying to moderate a serious discussion, though, and this gag just isn’t clever enough to justify derailing an entire news segment over it. It’s so random and gratuitous that she spends the next two minutes trying to process it, even asking Travis to spell the word he said at one point because she can’t believe she heard him correctly. I’ve never listened to his radio show but fans are noting on Twitter that this is a stock line of his, which makes it seem less random and makes Baldwin’s surprise a bit less justified. If CNN had done some research on its guest, their anchor wouldn’t have been caught off-guard. But even so, her discomfort is palpable. And she’s right that it’s especially crass to use this line when you’re the guest of a woman host. If you have an all-male panel and want to go full dude-bro with, ahem, “locker-room talk,” okay. That’d still be weird in the middle of a news chat but whatever. If you’re on with a woman, though, show a modicum of respect by trying to make it through four minutes of airtime without a completely needless reference to titties.
It’s pointless to argue about this, though. Almost instantly on social media, the clip had become a perfectly predicable culture-war referendum on political correctness. You don’t think giving a shout-out to boobs during your CNN guest shot is awesome? What are you, Antifa?
Update: Baldwin may be offended but the network, allegedly, is not.
CNN is so offended that they already called me and asked if I could come back on Monday. Too perfect.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 15, 2017