Fox News really stepped on a beehive this week when it announced the hiring of former Olympian and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner.
Previously known as Bruce Jenner, Caitlyn became one of the most famous transgender people in America after transitioning in 2015. She has described herself as a “constitutional conservative” and unsuccessfully ran for governor in California as a Republican in 2021. Now, Fox has hired Jenner as a contributor to provide regular political commentary on-air.
“Caitlyn’s story is an inspiration to us all,” Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said in the announcement. “She is a trailblazer in the LGBTQ+ community and her illustrious career spans a variety of fields that will be a tremendous asset for our audience.”
In some more socially conservative circles on the Right, this development prompted ridicule and criticism. “This is not conservatism,” Daily Wire culture reporter Megan Basham tweeted. “I’m embarrassed for my friends at Fox News,” BlazeTV host Elijah Schaffer said in the response to the news.
But what, exactly, is the argument here? Simply that Fox shouldn’t hire Jenner because of the former Olympian identifying as transgender?
That seems absurd.
Set aside for a moment the debate over whether a transgender person can be a conservative. Fox News is a news network. It employs contributors from across the political spectrum, including progressives and Democrats, even employing former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile in recent years. Whatever one’s views on related issues, transgender people exist.
There are about 1 million people in the United States who identify as transgender. It only makes sense, then, that a news network would have at least one transgender person on its roster. How else could its coverage accurately reflect America and capture the full spectrum of experiences and opinions?
Conservatives are so quick to criticize the legacy media for its bias and echo chambers, often rightfully so. In this case, however, some are pushing the same exact mentality.
What’s more, Caitlyn Jenner is not some radical progressive transgender activist. Conservatives have entirely fair concerns about unfairness caused by transgender participation in women’s sports and pushing life-altering gender transition treatments on minors too young to consent. But Caitlyn actually shares many of these concerns and can provide an empathetic, credible, and nuanced voice pushing back on these extremes.
Frankly, it seems like many of the criticisms boil down to some social conservatives just finding transgender people overall, even adults such as Caitlyn who are simply hoping to live their lives as best makes them happy, distasteful. These critics need to realize that they are not entitled to a cable news safe space, even on a right-leaning network such as Fox, with no voices that challenge their assumptions.
More traditional social conservatives have every right to their opinions. But they should seek to hash these discussions out on-air through civil debate, not seek to bar different perspectives from the conservative media arena altogether.