Fox & Friends beauty queen catfight? Rwwr! The 2010 Miss USA provocative promo pics really got under the skin of F&F co-anchor Gretchen Carlson this morning. Ironically, almost a year ago to the day (May 13, 2009), the former Miss America (1989) was likewise taking umbrage at Donald Trump’s edgy upstart which had the temerity to eclipse the one that made her queen. Nevertheless, not only did she rail against the racy lingerie photos at the beginning of F&F but she also pounced ferociously on the 2004 Miss USA who defended them in a later segment on the show.
When Gretchen’s producers prominently displayed four of the racy photos in the very first block today, she cattily commented, “Is that for Maxim?” Acerbically, she opined, “I think what this does is, really shows you the difference between Miss USA and Miss America. I’m a little biased as a former Miss America. There’s a talent category, there’s a scholarship aspect to it; [and] you have to do a lot of volunteer service. And, basically, be a classy person!” She added, “I’m not so sure this is the right role model situation that we want for our kids….(the) role model you want for your children, not what guys want to go home with.”
Less than an hour later, Gretchen was ready to growl again as she started her interview of 2004 Miss USA Shandi Finnessey. Starting somewhat abruptly, she queried, “Well, let me just ask you straight up. These photos, some are saying, ‘Too risque, too provocative, look a lot like the cover of Maxim magazine.’ Not really what some people would think was appropriate for a Miss USA contestant. Your thoughts?”
Somewhat meekly, Shandi answered, “I think it’s completely appropriate because the difference is Miss America and Miss USA. And Miss USA has always been a typical beauty pageant: it’s sexy, it’s fun, [and] it’s a woman of today….[Y]ou open up any magazine right now and that’s what you’re gonna to see. And, the Miss USA girls are the ones that move out to Hollywood and those are the ones who get into acting and TV hosting and modeling.” Then baring her teeth a tad, Shandi continued, “Miss America is the scholarship program….You yourself, Gretchen, you were a Miss America. But, more often, those girls…become doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, things like because it is a scholarship progam. And, so, I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
Not cottoning to that “left-handed” compliment, Gretchen scornfully retorted, “Right. I really appreciate you pointing out the stark differences between the two programs. The Miss America pageant has a talent category, of course. And, also, it’s the largest scholarship program in the world for women.” Going on the offensive again, Gretchen continued, “But, be that as it may, why would this be appropriate just because the current magazines of our day are showing photos like this? I’m sure there are a lot of parents out there right now who have small children who are saying to themselves ‘Even though magazines do this, why should everyone just follow the trend?'”
Sharply, Shandi riposted, “Well, I think that’s what keeps Miss USA very relevant. I mean, we are such a huge, we’re on NBC and co-owned between NBC and Donald Trump. Unfortunately, Miss America who hasn’t been able to stay with the times have lost their ratings, lost their advertisement. They no longer have a network they’re even on which is very unfortunate because that was the original pageant that started in 1921.”
In response, a still game Gretchen pressed Shandi about whether Miss USA (“not afraid to be sexy”) or Miss America (“hold ourselves to a higher standard”) was “a better role model for our young people today.” Defiantly, Shandi answered, “I personally think that Miss USA is because that girl is trained to live in the 2010. I mean, she is fun, she’s sexy, she’s confident, she’s relevant, she’s tangible. Miss America oftentimes is put on such a pedestal and she lives up to these expectations…. Miss USA’s…are very real, very relevant, and current with the times. And, that is why the ratings are so high. And, that is why we still have a network.”
Taking note of Shandi’s final slight, Gretched countered, “And, currently, Miss America is in Germany visiting our troops and thanking them for their service. We’ll let our audience be the judge on that.
Gretchen, as long as viewers tune in on May 16, Miss USA will probably not care if she is a role model.