Score one for the bad girls this week. Tiger Woods' mistress number one - Rachel Uchitel - has scored a new prime time television gig as a correspondent for the syndicated entertainment show Extra. A very enthusiastic Extra host Mario Lopez said Rachel "so impressed producers."
Wow. She "so impressed producers?" With what? The size of her breasts? Makes you wonder about those producers doesn't it?
This is a woman who cheated with the very famous Tiger Woods while his wife was at home changing diapers; this is the same nightclub hostess who denied having an affair with the golf star, telling reporters "Not a word of it is true." And now she is the one they chose for one of the most prestigious jobs in prime time entertainment reporting!
I am sure all of those hardworking women in broadcast journalism will be disheartened to realize how much time they have wasted. They have been trying to impress big-shot television executives by going to work at three in the morning, wading through waist high snow, clinging to trees in torrential floods, dodging bullets and suffering through endless hours of red carpet b-roll. All in the hopes that television executives would recognize their dedication and talent (or their Emmy) and promote them to a prime time hosting job.
They wasted countless hours trying to earn their stripes in the field - when they could have skipped the tuition, fast tracked their careers and doubled their income simply by jumping between the sheets with a famous married celebrity. Who needs experience or a college education when you can work a strip pole and have Gloria Allred on speed dial to hold a press conference and negotiate the rights for your own kiss, tell and sell story?
I can already hear the protests of Extra and NBC executives defending their decision to hire her: "Ms. Uchitel has credentials, she worked for Bloomberg TV." That's true. She did - a decade ago! These easily "impressed producers" can save their phony boloney justification, because female viewers aren't fools. Uchitel didn't get hired because of her "impressive" qualifications. Extra hired this self-proclaimed "mean girl" because she slept with the very married, very famous Tiger Woods.
I think it is bad enough that entertainment news chooses to interview shameless women who boast of having sex with married celebrities and politicians. Surely they don't have to stoop even lower and hire them. Those few primetime anchor and correspondent jobs are the Holy Grail for broadcast journalists all over the country!
Why am I making such a big deal about this? Because every time the media minimizes the professional value of women and empowers their objectification, it hurts us all. Our nation is being bombarded by media that increasingly undermines women on every level, except of course, as a sexual objects or reality show curiosities. For women to have worked so long and come so far in securing equal rights and earning respect in the workplace, only to now witness the systematic whittling away of that respect is a tragedy.
There is an extremely disturbing trend in the media, and little by little they are reinforcing to the nation that a woman's greatest value, and perhaps only value, is as a sexual object. A commodity she can sell or barter for a better lifestyle to the highest bidder -- be it a golf pro with a Black American Express or an easily impressed television executive.
Women get the message being sent loud and clear, about weight, beauty and sex appeal -- if you weren't born with it, buy it. Sex appeal is no longer just an asset for a woman: sex appeal is becoming a necessity for securing opportunity in an increasingly sexist world. Women in media are now forced to compete for jobs less often with their university degrees, and more often with a scalpel, a few injections, diet pills, and cantaloupe sized implants.
As women, I think it is a big mistake to remain silent regarding decisions that undermine legitimate opportunities for educated woman in America. It is a slippery slope if we let this go by. If Extra stunt-casting a home-wrecking Weed works for ratings, then the next thing we know some other network's easily impressed executive may suggest to Barbara Walters that she try something new with The View - like replacing Whoopi, Joy, Sherri and Elizabeth with Tiger Woods' mistress number two, three and four and five. Perhaps that will work so well that Rielle Hunter can be hired to take over for Katie Couric, and Monica Lewinski can host Sixty Minutes, and off to the races we go.
Enough is enough. Women actually can have power when we unite with our remote controls behind a common message. Here is the message I would like all women of sound mind to give to Extra: Two words we can all remember -- Entertainment Tonight! -- Just change the channel. Perhaps there is a good reason why Entertainment Tonight can boast about being the most watched entertainment newsmagazine in the world. Maybe it is because for nearly 30 years Mary Hart has delivered ratings the old fashioned way - she earned them!