During Tuesday’s broadcast of Fox News’ Outnumbered, Dr. Keith Ablow, who is a member of the network’s so-called Medical A-Team, stated that we shouldn’t listen to anything the First Lady says about childhood obesity because “she needs to lose a few.” He later claimed that she is obviously eating french fries and that she didn’t get her figure by eating “kale and carrots.” Prior to Ablow’s incredibly insensitive and sexist statement, other members of the panel were sniping at Michelle Obama over her healthy eating initiative, calling her “annoying” and acting like a “duchess.” However, the tone changed when Ablow made his unbelievable comment.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of Media Matters:
Outnumbered is supposed to be Fox News’ attempt to appeal to women. The show features a panel of four women and just one man. Apparently, the purpose of this is for the man to feel what its like to be in the minority on a news panel. However, the show has regularly provided the platform for some of the most extreme rhetoric to be spewed on the network. One reason for this is Fox News doesn’t have many women on staff that embrace feminist, liberal or progressive views. Most are seemingly hired simply as eye candy and stick to the network’s conservative-driven agenda. Another reason is that the men that show up to sit on the panel tend to overcompensate and do their best to be as boorishly sexist and offensive as possible.
In this instance, Ablow’s attack on Mrs. Obama was two-pronged. One, he was just playing to type by saying something extremely sexist in front of a few females. He isn’t the first one that’s proudly done this on Outnumbered, and he won’t be the last. However, on another front, the network has ramped up its attacks on Michelle Obama’s efforts to get children to embrace healthy eating. On Monday, Fox host Neil Cavuto tried to get Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to criticize the First Lady on being a “food police mommy” and pushing a program that “isn’t working.” Thankfully, Wilson didn’t take the bait.
Still, Fox News is pushing a narrative that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign are both abject failures. Seemingly always speaking anecdotally, Fox News contributors and hosts (such as the ones on Tuesday’s Outnumbered panel) state that children aren’t eating the healthier school meals and that a large number of school districts are rejecting the school lunch plans. The network’s personalities are also insisting that there have been no positive results since the law was passed in 2010 (final implementation took place this summer) and childhood obesity is on the rise. Another common complaint is that this is imposing on kids’ freedoms and that things like bake sales and birthday cakes will be outlawed on school property.
This past weekend, Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) wrote an editorial in the Santa Cruz Sentinel to combat the conservative misinformation about the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. He addressed childhood obesity, bake sales and the success of the law. Below is an excerpt from the op-ed:
Its purpose is not to stop bake sales as the editorial wrongly implied. Furthermore, the new law does not outlaw birthday celebrations. Children are still free to bring in treats to share with their friends. So rest easy parents, your child will not have to explain that birthday cupcake to a federal agent as opponents of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act have falsely claimed over and over again.
In fact, the new standards do exactly what the editorial called for. It is not a specified menu for every school to follow. Instead, they give the states and the school districts the flexibility necessary to meet the new nutrition goals; that includes determining how often bake sales are held. Some states have decided to allow sugary treats at bake sales while others have opted not to but they make that choice, not the federal government.
What the editorial failed to mention was the overwhelming success of the new law was in the first year. More than 90 percent of the schools have successfully implemented the new nutrition standards. The USDA, the department that oversees the program, is now working on a case-by-case basis with the schools that are having trouble meeting them. Just the other week, the peer-reviewed Childhood Obesity journal published a study that said the majority of students actually prefer the healthier meals.
As the editorial stated, the childhood obesity epidemic is a serious issue. This is the first generation of children who will live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents. Our schools should not contribute to that legacy. However, there is not a lack of leadership to address the problem. First Lady Michelle Obama made fighting the epidemic her signature issue. Her Let’s Move! campaign brought the problem to the forefront and the nation responded to her call for action. For the first time in decades, we are finally reversing childhood obesity rates in this country and the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act has played an important role in fighting the epidemic. That is why it has the support of child nutrition advocates, pediatricians, military leaders like Mission Readiness, and the former presidents of the School Nutrition Association.
Sadly, Farr used reason and facts to make his case, so I am sure someone like Ablow has no use for it. Instead, he’d prefer to just take personal potshots at the First Lady because that is how one engages in real discourse. (For the record, it is insane to talk about the First Lady’s weight. She is in fantastic shape. Meanwhile, Dr. Ablow was showing a nice-sized beer gut while lounging on the Outnumbered couch.)
The thing is, right-wing media just wants something else to complain about regarding the Obamas. Right now, they want to focus on school lunches and insist that the First Lady is helping to impose more government outreach on the population. Why? Per Rush Limbaugh, probably to make us all militant vegetarians.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).