What is Fox News outraged about today, folks?
During a Wednesday morning segment on Fox’s The Faulkner Focus, ostensibly a part of the network’s “straight news” division, anchor Harris Faulkner and contributor Joe Concha spent several minutes grumbling about the Associated Press recommendation against using the term “mistress.”
The AP’s official Stylebook Twitter account sparked online debate and mockery when it tweeted this week that the news agency’s style guide suggests reporters “don’t use the term mistress for a woman who is in a long-term sexual relationship with, and is financially supported by, a man who is married to someone else.” The Stylebook added: “Instead, use an alternative like companion, friend or lover on first reference and provide additional details later.”
While the AP later pointed out that the guidance was first issued last year and explained that “we felt that was better than having one word for a woman and none for the man, and implying that the woman was solely responsible for the affair,” the conservative internet pile-on continued—resulting in the inevitable Fox News segment.
With the on-air graphic reading “AP Mocked for P.C. Definiton of ‘Mistress’”—indeed, the word “definition” was misspelled throughout the segment—Faulkner read off some tweets ridiculing the AP rule before declaring, “Oh, my goodness.”
“A little disclaimer: My mother-in-law is a big fan of your show,” Concha responded with his signature hokey uncle humor. “I want to be clear I’m only talking about the term ‘mistress.’ None of that going on here. Very much happy with your daughter, ma’am. Just want to make that very clear.”
Following that bit of cringey commentary, Concha continued to workshop corny jokes about the topic, noting he was in New Jersey and has “an Italian friend or two,” wondering aloud if the AP would prefer to use the term “goomah” in the place of mistress.
“Not quite sure what that means, but I would, I assume that it’s a cinnamon in this case,” he continued, perhaps unintentionally deploying a malapropism for “synonym.”
The hacky banter continued, of course, with Faulkner asking if the AP should use “paramour” instead; while Concha pivoted to other right-wing grievances like media hesitancy to use the term “riots” to describe the ongoing protests in Minnesota.
“But, you know, ‘seducer’ is good, ‘fornicator’ is good,” he exclaimed. “Or, I don’t know, call it a ‘mistress’ that actually wandered into a riot. How does that sound? Can we use both in one sentence, would that work?”
A clearly impressed Faulkner reacted: “Wow.”
When the segment finally moved on to the AP’s actual, nuanced explanation for the “mistress” guidance—that there is no equivalent male-centric word, and the term’s use has historically placed culpability on the woman—Concha claimed one could use “cheater” or “himbo” for men taking part in an extramarital affair.
As is Fox’s wont, the segment ultimately came around to labeling the AP style guidance as somehow yet another example of “cancel culture.”
“‘Mistress’ has been canceled, go figure. Who would’ve thought that mistresses would be canceled? Even that has fallen under cancel culture,” Concha sighed.
“Or they could not break one of the Ten Commandments and just be faithful to their marrieds,” Faulkner concluded the segment, prompting Concha to quip: “Like you and I are, that’s right.”