In 1981, Christine Craft was one of two U.S. women over the age of forty anchoring a newscast at a network affiliate. Then, when a focus group described her as “too old, too unattractive, and wouldn’t defer to men,” she was removed from her position. Appalled by this decision, Craft responded with a Title VII lawsuit, paving the way for women to continue developing their careers in the media even after showing their age. However, as evidenced by a recent situation involving Wisconsin news anchor Jennifer Livingston, progress is still needed in regard to attitudes.
In the following video, Livingston shares the comments one viewer expressed about her appearance and logically explains why such comments are not warranted. Although some reports covering this story cite her response as a melodramatic attempt to make a mountain out of a mole hill, her response appropriately connects this situation to the larger social pattern.
Fortunately, the small-minded attitudes stirring controversy over her remarks have not halted all progress for women in the media. For the first time in network broadcast history, two women are taking over as the co-anchors of a nightly news program. Due to their past accomplishments and success working as a team, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff have been selected to co-host PBS’s long-running program, NewsHour. However, opportunities like this could not be possible without women like Christine Craft and Jennifer Livingston standing up for equality and respect. For this reason, Jennifer Livingston is this week’s spotlighted feminist.