On “The Ben Shapiro Show: Sunday Special,” Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro speaks with Fox News host Shannon Bream about her experiences in dealing with inappropriate behavior in the news industry. Video and partial transcript below:
Ben Shapiro: I want to ask you about some of those #MeToo experiences. So obviously this has become a hot button issue again in the country. It seems like this has really ratcheted up since 2012 when Mitt Romney, who was the most anodyne human being ever to walk the earth, was supposedly waging a war on women, and then that was revived obviously during 2016 when President Trump, who was not anodyne, was running for President of the United States and Hillary Clinton sort of revived that. So, you’ve been in the TV industry, which is not well known for its good treatment of women. You were in beauty pageants, also not typically well known for wonderful treatment of women. What’s your perspective on #MeToo and what were some of the experiences that you’ve had?
Shannon Bream: Well I mean there’s some of the funny, subtle stuff that is not a sexual assault, but it makes you very aware of some gender stereotypes and things. I can remember as a young attorney that I was conducting a deposition and the person came in that day with her lawyer. I met them out front and they said, “Tell Mr. Bream that I’m here and please get me some coffee.” “It’s Mrs. Bream and I’ll see about getting you some coffee.” I mean it’s just those subtle things. And probably most of that had to do with the fact that I was so young, and baby-faced as a new attorney. Like, “I’m gonna be the one deposing you today.” There were times that we would show up for a deposition over something else and there’s somebody there that maybe we were representing the company that they worked for and they were being accused of sexual harassment. The way that they treated me when I walked in the door, I thought, “Might be true, you might want to settle this case.”
I mean there’s just that stuff that happens like, “Yikes! This may not be your best character witness here.” But there were times over the years where I’d been put in situations that were uncomfortable. There were discussions about my body or about being more sexual or being more sexy on TV. I mean those conversations are uncomfortable and you have to navigate them carefully as a woman. I’ve been a sexual harassment attorney when I was sitting in those conversations and I’m thinking, “Ok there are lines I’m not going to cross. How close am I to that line? Because my career does matter to me and I think there’s a way to as a woman navigate this carefully — to respectfully use comedy or humor to get myself out of this situation not offending the person who’s now making a decision about my career but also maintaining my own dignity — and sometimes it’s a really thin line to walk.
Ben Shapiro: How do you decide where exactly that line ought to be? We’ve spoken with a bunch of women on the show before and ask this same sort of question. Carly Fiorina was sitting in this chair a few weeks ago. She’s talking about some of her experiences in the business world with this sort of sexism. I asked her, “So how do you deal with the person across from you? Do you seek to defuse? Do you seek to elevate? At what point do you say okay well I can’t work here anymore?” How do you draw those lines?
Shannon Bream: Yeah, and that’s so frustrating to me as a woman because you feel like you shouldn’t have to make that decision. I mean you shouldn’t be put in that place. But also, if you’re being realistic about some conditions and I think, listen the last five years or so, that’s wildly changed. That companies are having extreme makeovers with the way that they handle H.R. Giving women a place to report. So, I think there’s been such a disinfectant of sunlight which is fantastic for all women. And men get harassed too. I mean we have to be honest. I’ve seen those cases – plenty of them in my career – as well. So, I think that the more we can decide personally where we’re going to draw a line. You know I talk about Roger Ailes in the book and the fact that he was a dichotomy, like everybody. He was incredibly generous to people who were in trouble or ill or had emergencies in their life. He was a TV genius but there was this side of him too that for me I had to deal with some really uncomfortable conversations. I kept going back and having those conversations because it was part of a regular part of my career to meet with him and to advocate for myself to take on new assignments and do things. But there came a point to me where I felt like, there was a moment where he said let’s talk about you having a show and I thought “fantastic.”
I talk about the book, how I put together this folder of all of my ideas. It was very mapped out and specific and I went in there to talk to him, I had the folder, he immediately kind of tossed the folder aside where I realized we’re not gonna have a conversation about the show. That’s drawing me back into another one of these uncomfortable conversations with him and I said it may jettison my career but at this point, I have to draw the line here and say I’m not going to have these uncomfortable meetings with him anymore. So, for the last two years he was at Fox I never saw him again in person. I thought, “I can live with that,” because for me it’s gone to my breaking point which is, no more of this. I love my job as a Supreme Court correspondent. If that’s the last thing I do at Fox, I will have been blessed and I love it. I left it there and I never saw him again after that last meeting where for me that was the line in the sand.
Ben Shapiro: I don’t mean to get gossipy, but I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask what those uncomfortable conversations were like. What exactly was the content of those?
Shannon Bream: Well he would talk about the need to be more sexy on TV. The conversation he would use is, people need to think if they went on a date with you it’d be a good time. Because right now that’s not the vibe I’m getting from you. I’m kind of getting like church lady vibe, which is me. I kind of give off the church lady vibe but I’m okay with that. I think he understood the medium of television and he knew what audiences wanted, in a way that sometimes you had to think, “Ok, as a journalist am I okay with this?” Yes, I can dress differently than when I was a lawyer and I wear black suit to court every day. So, ok that’s a step I can take. I need to dress more colorfully; I need to be more imaginative about that. But if I have to try to do the new way that’s also me flirting with the audience. No. That’s ok with me. You can have a wink and a nod about a funny topic or story here and there, but I didn’t want to come across as provocative or somebody who was trying to be sexually alluring while delivering the news, that just wasn’t something that works for me as a combination.