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The girl on the screen could have been a Fox News anchorwoman, although she was by far prettier and less vulgar looking than the coarse loudmouths, whose lipstick-dripping mouths deliver, in fog-horn decibels, slogans like: "We Report, You Decide" and "Fair and Balanced."


Appearing on "Your World" with Neil Cavuto, porn star Sunrise Adams attempted, rather touchingly, to play down her cheap hooker looks and sorry syntax with a pair of nerdy spectacles. But while she used the standard, dizzy, woman's magazine self-realization routine to describe her occupation—"this is a pastime for me. This is just something for me to do and enjoy and to grow with"—it was her host, Cavuto, who was responsible for rolling out the welcoming waterbed for the porn star and her pimp, Steve Hirsch, co-founder of Vivid Entertainment.


Don't get me wrong—there should be no legal impediments to entering the adult-entertainment business. Like prostitution, this is strictly a matter for the adults involved. There is no place for federal meddling between consenting grownups. Neither is there room for the paternalistic depiction of women as passive agents, demeaned by male-driven appetites, a humbug shared by conservatives and liberals alike. The large cross-section of porn stars Howard Stern parades on his show makes it clear that these single-minded women like what they do. The sly, lewd glint in the eye, the exhibitionism, and the boundless, primitive sexuality seem to unite them all. (Unlike the Foxettes, porn stars are, however, rather feminine and demure.)


ABC's Diane Sawyer once tried to twist a report about a particularly off-putting specimen in the X-rated business so that it would conform to the angle of Madonna-who-was-turned-into-whore-by-an-indifferent-society. The girl played Sawyer for the fool she is. A shallow, kinky, weird-looking, low-intelligence twit, with few inhibitions and an inability to postpone gratification, the girl was consumed with getting into any limelight, including that of a naked bulb above a dirty bed. She ends up as happy as a porn star in a maximum-security prison, winning a coveted "industry" award. "I can say that I've done pretty much everything there is to do, and I can walk away feeling a little proud about it, you know?" she tells an annoyed Sawyer.


For sure, it takes a "special" person to be able to have sex, often very twisted and unhealthy sex, with thousands of males and females. The fact that porn star Jenna Jamison is treated like a celebrity, even being respectfully interviewed on Fox News, doesn't change what she is. A person who chooses to sell sex for a living, rather than work at a supermarket or teach school, used to be called a whore in civilized society! A porn star is a hooker with a camera crew and a contract—a prostitute with a penchant for exhibitionism.


Cavuto referred to her enterprising pimp as "the king of porn," but for Sunrise Adams he reserved the honorific "successful film star." The pornographer and the prostitute are, I venture, far more honest than the dishonest lot that pervades Fox. "The Fox effect" has come to denote the network's journalistically wanton rejection of objective news coverage. The news the network hustles is indeed more drama than data.


But Fox is "sexing up" more than just news. It's customary to see the skanky Jamison as a commentator on the E! Networks programs, but the news cable networks, with Fox in the lead, are not far behind. These faux-conservatives are certainly helping to mainstream society's more dubious members. The class act that is Martha Stewart, for instance, is routinely derided on Fox. Their choice of "Lifestyle Guru"? The rotting flesh that is Gene Simmons of the band "Kiss."


Ranked third among cable news channels, MSNBC and its country bumpkin Joe Scarborough are pedaling hard to keep up. Doing his bit to juice up his show, and in the process to challenge Fox, Scarborough sojourned to the fleshpots of Hollywood, for a week billed misleadingly as a confrontation. It was nothing of the sort. This was an affirmation of slut and celebrity.


The perceptive viewer ought to have taken from the show that humanity's detritus can be graded. Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and pornographer Larry Flynt were the upstanding citizens in the Scarborough lineup. These straight shooters, who've been so horribly persecuted by the law, are nowhere near as loathsome as Ashley Judd is. Rather than put her own money where her shrill mouth is, Judd's idea of "charity" is to use her undeserved prominence to steal from the burdened American taxpayer and give to African governments to fight AIDS. The fleecing Judd thinks this immoral and coerced wealth transfer will stop Africans from fornicating into the afterlife. Her own countrymen and women can eat tortillas, for all she cares.


Scarborough shares with the liberals he lambastes the same underlying assumptions about human nature—he sees pornography as "degrading to women and society." The Bush acolyte's clunky mind has it upside down. Hugh Hefner is not the problem. The problem lies with a society whose members have made him an icon. American young women are as brazen, brash, and cocky as any porn star. They aren't Hefner's victims; Hefner simply created a market for females who can think of nothing more elevated than being photographed with their legs about their ears. When Hefner told Scarborough Playboy magazine is an American "lifestyle magazine," he had a valid point.


Had he wanted to make a statement about class, beauty, and talent, Scarborough could have. But there was no place on Joe's stump for Grace Kelly look-alike Gwyneth Paltrow, or for actress Jill Hennessy, an alert, keenly intelligent, and delicate-looking gamine of a girl. Instead, Scarborough's co-host was a dim, scantily clad actress by the name of Heather Tom. An abundance of pasty flesh, bleached candyfloss hair, a plump thickset mug, and a bulbous mouth all conspired to entrench the Fox-anchor porn star look and apparel.



July 30, 2003

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