LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday criticized a Detroit TV station’s decision to air a story about the reaction to the dress she wore during her State of the State speech, which featured numerous unflattering or sexist comments about her physical appearance from social media users.
She tweeted that the segment broadcast by Fox 2 (WJBK-TV) on Wednesday was “way out of line,” before adding: “I’m tough, I can take it.” She said boys have teased her about her “curves” since fifth grade, and she tried in her speech to encourage people to “see the humanity in each other in this cruel political environment. In an era when so many women are stepping up to lead, I’m hoping people will focus on our ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance.”
The segment, which the station also published as an article on its website, highlighted comments that were posted on its Facebook page during a livestream of the Democrat’s Tuesday night address . People wrote negative, sometimes crude statements about Whitmer’s body and her dress, while others — who were interviewed in person — said she should have worn a suit.
In a statement, Fox 2 news director Kevin Roseborough defended the story that drew criticism from members of both political parties, current or former journalists, and others who chastised the station for amplifying comments from a platform known for “trolling.”
“We were taken aback by the number and nature of many inappropriate Facebook comments on the governor’s physical appearance,” he said. “We chose not to ignore the comments, and to instead examine them through person-on-the-street interviews and an expert’s opinion on the double standard faced by female leaders. This is not a subject that should be turned away from, and we have extended an invitation to the governor to talk to us about this further.”
Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield of Levering blasted the story, tweeting that it was “ridiculous” and “never should have given these losers a platform to make these inappropriate statements. Her speech was what mattered!” State Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes, who tweeted that the station should pull the online article, accused it of using anonymous comments to take “a cheap, sexist & indefensible shot at a strong woman in leadership.”