Give Roger Ailes his due: As if addressing doubts about his ability to make business news sexy, the Fox News Channel mastermind has populated his startup network with a bevy of beauties who represent, thus far, its most salient attribute. Taking a page from GLOW (the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), Fox gives us GLOB — the Gorgeous Ladies of Business, trumping CNBC’s “money honey” with a veritable money hive. In that respect, FBN perpetuates the Fox strategy of adapting local news flash to cable, which probably won’t be enough to make the subject matter pop for the average consumer.
The female staffers and talking heads featured on the fledgling network didn’t get there by accident, so it’s hardly sexist to point out the glaringly obvious. Realizing that the heavy hitters interviewed would be mostly old-white-guy CEOs, the channel has conspicuously adorned its talent roster with eye candy for the predominantly male audience apt to tune in.
Based on a sampling during the net’s premiere week, the result is a parade of Stepford anchors, reporters and pundits, peaking during the surreally goofy “Happy Hour” — co-hosted by Rebecca Gomez in a Manhattan bar, as the camera swirled around Tuesday to catch periodic glimpses of her legs in a tight-fitting red dress. The hour’s closing segment dealt with a self-explanatory website, Myfreeimplants.com, complete with a satisfied customer.
I forget the exact formula about stocks rising in proportion to hemlines, but on FBN, the latter will apparently always be heading upward.
The giddy Gomez will surely garner her share of postcards from prison, but there’s a little something for everybody, including alluring Anna Gilligan, nutty Nicole Petallides on the NYSE floor and chatty Cheryl Casone yakking with jocular Jenna Lee and showy Shibani Joshi in the mornings.
Other innovations amount to little more than window dressing in an attempt to breathe life into stock talk. Although Fox begins with a major distribution handicap, the channel has enjoyed solid initial access to CEOs and Republican officials, and Neil Cavuto — the signature primetime voice — practically crawled into GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s lap to be read a no-new-taxes bedtime story. He’s followed nightly by preening gasbag David Asman, another Fox News transplant.
CNBC has a strong hold on its small but lucrative audience, and Fox is unlikely to topple the incumbent anytime soon. Even so, it’s unwise to bet against Fox’s earning the right to co-exist, exercising the approach that “Eyewitness News” introduced in the 1970s and FNC advanced in the ’90s — cloaking news in a livelier, more energetic, tawdrier, better-looking and more graphically arresting package.
FBN will almost inevitably tinker with the formula in the weeks ahead, but this work-in- progress shouldn’t obscure two key notes: Ailes and boss Rupert Murdoch have exhibited a willingness to pound away (and lose money) until they achieve their objectives, and they harbor no qualms about stooping to conquer, even if that means someone has to put on high heels and a short skirt to do it.