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Dear Fat-Shamers, Please Don’t Make Me Defend Fox News

It hurts my soul.

**Content warning: fat-shaming.**

Donald Trump’s recent summit with Vladimir Putin was so disastrous, it left a lot of pundits and analysts, as well as other politicians, a bit flabbergasted in regard to just how to cover the event. If you remember, Anderson Cooper called it “perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president.” Rachel Maddow illustrated exactly why it is our national “worst case scenario.” Even a few of the typically propaganda-based talking heads at Fox were openly critical of Trump’s performance. Most notably, Neil Cavuto called it “disgusting” on his Fox Business show on Monday.

This isn’t the first time Cavuto has criticized Trump, something that, again, is rare on his network. But his judgement that Trump’s sycophantic treatment of Putin at the expense of publicly undermining American intelligence agencies was “disgusting” was too much for a lot of Fox News viewers. Cavuto took Tuesday off, and when he returned Wednesday, he addressed on air the fact that he “was not missed” during his absence.

Cavuto says he felt “vulnerable” being back, and then spends the next 10 minutes reading out the hate mail he received after Monday’s show. I really hate having to defend anything about Fox News. It hurts my soul. But this? This is not okay. Because much of the hate being thrown at Cavuto is limited to fat-shaming.

Cavuto reads emails, tweets, and online comments calling him “fat”, “fatso,” “tubby,” commenting on his “fat neck,” saying he’s the one who’s “disgusting,” not Trump. One person says Cavuto is so fat, the only reason viewers watch his show is in hopes that he will die on the air. (That’s presumably a reference to some very serious health issues Cavuto’s been open about, including cancer and MS.)

How does anyone feel like this is acceptable? I have plenty of issues with Fox News and the people that appear on the network. There are lots of reasons why I don’t feel like they’re qualified to be on television, let alone on such an influential platform. But physical appearance doesn’t factor into it. Someone’s weight has no bearing on their ability to deliver news (or in Fox’s case, “news”) and if you have a problem with someone’s words or thoughts, what kind of sense does it make to attack their appearance? It’s meaningless and beyond lazy.

Cavuto admits that some of these comments hurt his feelings, but he chooses the approach of at least trying to laugh it all off. You can hear his producers or other crew laughing in the background. I’m not going to criticize anyone’s decision for how they personally deal with this sort of cruel bullying, so kudos to Cavuto for choosing to tackle this head on and his attempts to brush it off. Personally, it just makes me sad. And not just the lazy, mean fat-shaming, but the mindless, obtuse mental obedience.

This criticism of Cavuto is based solely in the idea that nothing Trump does is worthy of criticism, that Fox News is the place to go to hear why Republicans, and especially Trump, are doing great all the time. These people wanted Fox News hosts to tell them why Trump’s interactions with Putin were fine–great, actually! The best!–and were not interested in any analysis that didn’t present that opinion. One commenter actually wrote to Cavuto, “Are you on a suicide mission, fatso? Who do you think butters all that bread you’ve stacked on your Fox plate? It’s Trump, chump!!”

Think about that reasoning for a second. Trump “butters Fox’s bread,” so Fox News hosts had better say positive things about Trump. That’s basically the definition of propaganda.

Which is why, when challenged, these viewers have no means of recourse besides attacking Cavuto’s looks. They can’t come after his opinions, since they have none of their own.

(via HuffPost, image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.