Fox’s Liberal Pundit Kirsten Powers: ‘I’m an Orthodox Christian’
10:02 am, May 25th | by Laura Donovan
We suspect the average Jane Dough reader was a bit of a Tracy Flick in high school or college (guilty!). For the uninitiated, Flick (portrayed by multifaceted Academy Award winning actress, Reese Witherspoon) is a tireless, tenacious teenager who is determined to become class president in 1999 dark comedy, “Election.” Of course, she gets a lot of flak for her overachiever status, but let’s just say she comes out ahead in the end. Fox News political analyst Kirsten Powers, a contributor for The Daily Beast and USA Today and proud Democrat, says she was a lot like Flick at the beginning of her career — and we think that’s a good thing. You don’t get to serve in the Clinton Administration, become a higher-up at AOL, work on political campaigns, or regularly appear on television without being ambitious.
You also don’t have the chance to publicly denounce misogyny without the strength to endure the backlash. Powers has been doing that for a while, most recently when she condemned ultimate misogynist Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, who said this year that granting women the right to vote was “one of the greatest mistakes America [has ever] made,” on Sean Hannity’s show:
After former Congressman Anthony Weiner finally admitted to posting a lewd photograph of himself on Twitter, Powers called him out for providing her with false information and claiming innocence before she was set to talk about him on TV. While many focused on Rush Limbaugh’s intolerable remarks about Sandra Fluke earlier this year, Powers reminded everyone that the conservative radio host is far from the only misogynist in the media, and her article went viral because it was long overdue. She has done a lot to combat misogyny in her career, but is going to continue fighting the good fight, so we’re lucky we had a opportunity to chat with her about women’s rights, how she got to where she is today, lesser known things about her (she’s an Orthodox Christian), and her future goals:
Matt Lewis recently listed you as one of his favorite working journalists at the moment. Who is yours? Well, Matt Lewis, of course. After him, I would have to say Peter Boyer, who currently writes for Newsweek. I was a long time fan of his at the New Yorker and have been lucky enough to become friends with him and he is as wonderful a person as he is a reporter and writer. Peter is part of a dying breed: He does interviews and research and then he reports the story fairly and based on what he has learned instead of trying to make it fit into a reigning narrative or ideology. He’s old school; a real journalist.
In summary, what does a typical work week look like for you? Typically I’ll be on Fox around five times a week but other than a few scheduled hits, I rarely know when I’m going to be on with much advance notice. I’ll usually have a column or two to write for the Daily Beast or USA Today, though some weeks I’ll have none. It’s a very unpredictable schedule but I enjoy it because it’s never boring. When I’m not on TV or writing a column I’m reading up on issues, doing interviews and general research and Tweeting about what I’m finding.
Your recent media misogyny Daily Beast piece, which argues that men on the left are not held accountable for misogyny as much as men on the right, exploded on the Internet and received more than 12,000 Facebook recommendations. Why do you think it fared so well among countless other articles on the Fluke/Limbaugh debacle?
One never knows with these things.I have to say I was surprised by the reaction it got. I suppose it was noteworthy that a liberal was calling out liberals. I wish that wasn’t noteworthy, but in this day and age there is very little intellectual honesty on either side of the ideological spectrum. I wrote the column because misogyny and women’s issues in general are my passion and while I agreed that Limbaugh’s outbursts were terrible and worthy of condemnation, this one issue paled in comparison to the epidemic of liberal media misogyny that is generally ignored by the people who were screaming for Limbaugh’s scalp. My point wasn’t meant to be that liberals were being hypocrites, but to bring to people’s attention that we have a serious problem in this country called media misogyny and it really does impact women in public life, or even women’s desire to be in public life. Unfortunately, the bulk of it is perpetrated by men on the left, something that liberals are going to have to face up to at some point. I’d like to write a book about this if I can ever find the time.
What kind of professional and personal advice would you give your younger self? Chill out! I was such a Tracy Flick in my 20s and really worried about everything. I had no balance whatsoever and I’ve honestly only recently started to learn what that looks like. I actually am pretty pleased with my career trajectory so I don’t think I would have done anything differently there except to mellow out a bit and not take everything so seriously.
Which news sources and websites do you enjoy reading? The Jane Dough is a favorite and I’m not just saying that to curry favor. I read things there that I would otherwise never know about. Because the writers are young it helps me keep in touch with what young women are facing or discussing. On the right, I like Hot Air and on the left I read Salon.com a lot. Steve Kornacki has been a must read for me since he was at the NY Observer. Otherwise it’s just the usual: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, the Atlantic, the Economist, Real Clear Politics and so on.
What would you consider the biggest highlights of your career? I have too many to list. I’ve had a varied career from working in the Clinton White House to being a Vice President of International Communications at America Online during the Internet boom. I’ve also worked on Democratic campaigns, and then settled on a media career. So sticking with the current era, the biggest highlight would be Roger Ailes offering me a job to work full time as a political analyst at Fox News. He is the one who gave me a chance to start a new career and make the transition from politics to media. To have someone who knows as much as he knows about television news pick you out is pretty humbling. On the writing side, it would be getting a call from George Will — who I had never met — about six months after I started my NY Post column to tell me “you have it. You really know how to write a column.” I was jumping up and down after that call. Finally, it was hearing Tina Brown say on ‘Morning Joe’ that I was a “terrific columnist” at the NY Post, which led to me writing for the Daily Beast.
You’ve written a lot about sex trafficking and slavery. Is there another topic about which you are very passionate and would like to explore further? My biggest passion outside of politics is human rights, particularly women’s rights. I’m interested in writing more — perhaps a book — about the scourge of misogyny which for some reason is still tolerated, even glorified, around the world. Misogyny needs to go the way of racism — something that no civilized society will tolerate. We have a long way to go, baby.
What’s the number one thing about you that would surprise people most? I’m an Orthodox Christian. I’d say evangelical but that word is too loaded with cultural baggage, so I say Orthodox instead. I came to this faith later in life so for people who have known me for a long time this fact is still a bit of a mind bender. Honestly, it’s still kind of a mind bender for me too considering the atheistic world in which I happily resided for so long.
What do you foresee yourself doing in the coming years? I’d love to write a book or two or three.
Finally, what is your favorite place in the world? Fairbanks, Alaska (where I grew up) playing with my nieces Khloe and Mataya and/or eating my mom’s homemade bread.