Controversy erupted Friday at the Fox News Channel over a confrontation between two guests on “The Sean Hannity Show” in which contentious right-wing radio host Bill Cunningham attacked commentator Tamara Holder, pointing his finger in her face and firing volley after volley of sexist insults. At one point, according to Media Matters, Cunningham told Holder to “Shut up. Know your role and shut your mouth.”
The ugly scene unfolded Thursday evening. On Friday morning, Fox’s “America’s Newsroom” dedicated a segment to the run-in, with anchor Martha MacCallum asking, “Is this what we’ve come to? Is this a civil society?”
Thursday’s discussion centered around Attorney General Eric Holder (no relation to Tamara Holder), and a petition to oust him from office over allegations that he lied under oath before Congress. Cunningham, who hosts “The Bill Cunningham Show,” jabbed his finger into Tamara Holder’s face, shouting that she must sign the petition.
“I really hope that when you speak to a judge, you don’t point your finger in their face the entire time,” replied Holder. “Your finger does not prove your point,” she said, pointing back at Cunningham, who apparently found this extremely provoking.
“Whose finger’s in my face right now?” he protested.
“Mine, because I’m telling you to shut up,” said Holder.
“Wait a minute, you shut up,” Cunningham sniped. “Know your role and shut your mouth.”
“My role as a woman?” asked Holder.
“Yeah, yeah,” said Cunningham.
Particularly appalling was a moment later in the segment when Holder simply stopped talking and hung her head in frustration.
“What, are you going to cry?” Cunningham needled.
“America’s Newsroom” anchor MacCallum was briefly speechless after playing the clip on Friday morning. She asked guest Juan Williams whether this was his idea of a “civil society.”
“Not in my opinion,” Williams said. “He not only crossed the line, he obliterated the line…I think it shut down the conversation. That doesn’t help.”
The dust-up calls to mind a recent episode of egregious Fox News sexism being called out by one of its own woman anchors. Megyn Kelly recently hosted Lou Dobbs and RedState.com editor Erick Erickson to ask them to explain their remarks about how women breadwinners are ruining America because science says women should be submissive to men.
Kelly pointed out to Erickson that science doesn’t bear out his theory, that in many animal species, females are the dominant animals and that his comments were offensive.
“I didn’t like what you wrote one bit and I do think you are judging people,” said Kelly, holding up a sheaf of papers. “This is a list of studies saying your science is wrong and your facts are wrong.”
Update, 5:40 p.m. EST: The story was modified to correctly identify Tamara Holder.
Watch the “Hannity” segment and the “America’s Newsroom” segment, embedded below via Media Matters:
[Bill Cunningham head shot via PremiereRadio.com]