An economic commentator whom President Donald Trump has picked to fill one of the two open seats on the Federal Reserve Board wrote multiple columns in the early 2000s that railed against female sports commentators, female athletes, and the concept of pay parity in professional sports, CNN reported Monday.
Stephen Moore made these points in columns for the conservative magazine National Review. While it’s true that some of his comments wouldn’t have looked out of place on many early sports blogs—posts for which some authors have since apologized for the sexism they casually promoted—Moore told CNN that his articles were satire. “This was a spoof. I have a sense of humor.” We’ll leave it up to the reader to decide whether you find the columns funny.
First, from a 2000 column titled “Battle of the Sexes”:
Have you seen the latest Nike ad? A woman athlete makes a plea for pay equity in sports. She pleads to the camera: “Don’t we play as hard, sweat as hard, practice as hard, as the men? But we aren’t paid as much.” Ahh, the injustice of it all! No doubt sales of women’s sneakers will skyrocket in coming months.
If there is an injustice in tennis, it’s that women like Martina Hingis and Monica Seles make millions of dollars a year, even though there are hundreds of men at the collegiate level (assuming their schools haven’t dropped the sport) who could beat them handily. Yet these men make nothing.
He hits a different note about gender dynamics in a jokey 2001 column about March Madness:
When Allison and I got married the hoops ground rules were already well established: She’s not allowed to talk to me during the NCAA tournament. Sometimes she slips up and pesters me by saying, “Steve, take out the garbage please.” And I will respond: “That’s funny, I didn’t think it was April yet.”
[The author’s son] was delivered in the middle of an Indiana-Temple game, a real nailbiter. I remember the game vividly because I kept running back and forth between the delivery room and the hospital TV room. The surly nurse kept asking me: “Mr. Moore, is this an inconvenient time for your wife to have this baby.” I told her, with all honesty, that the timing could have been a lot better.
Admittedly, this column is more on the self-deprecating side. But lest you start to think his actual intention is only to mock his own participation in childish and tired gender tropes, he goes on to add in a dig against female announcers and commentators. (“Is nothing sacred? This is like having wives attend a bachelor party.”)
He revisited the same theme (“keep those three crying kids out of my hair for the next three weeks,” he told his wife during March Madness) in a column the next year and went on to list ways to prevent March Madness from “being ruined by reformers” in ways that “are simply un-American.” One of those ways was to keep women out of the whole thing:
This year they allowed a woman ref a men’s NCAA game. … Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women? What’s next? Women invited to bachelor parties? Women in combat? (Oh yeah, they’ve done that already.)
Here’s the rule change I propose: No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything. There is, of course, an exception to this rule. Women are permitted to participate, if and only if, they look like Bonnie Bernstein. The fact that Bonnie knows nothing about basketball is entirely irrelevant.
He also extrapolates that message (one he repeats in a 2003 column) to the larger world of sports:
And while I’m venting on the subject, here’s another travesty: in playground games and rec leagues these days, women now feel free to play with the men — uninvited in almost every case. … It can get pretty competitive and, well, vulgar. I think I speak for almost all men when I respectfully tell the ladies that we don’t want you anywhere around during these precious moments of male bonding.
This last bit of advice, apparently, led to some backlash, which he noted the next month in another column: “Several readers (all women) have called and e-mailed complaining about my last column as ‘sexist’ because I said that women shouldn’t be permitted to ref the men’s game. Their retort was: ‘Well then why should men ref the women’s games?’ Look, for all I care the women can use chimpanzees to ref their games. I hate women’s basketball.”
Charming! And Moore didn’t limit himself to sports. In a column from 2000, he complained that his wife had voted for a Democrat, canceling out his own vote. “Women are sooo malleable!” he said. “No wonder there’s a gender gap.”
Moore worked as an editorial board member at the Wall Street Journal after his time at the National Review, and until recently, he contributed to CNN, according to the news organization. Trump has not yet officially nominated Moore, though he said in March he plans to do so.
Also on Monday, Trump announced that his other choice for a seat on the board, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and failed presidential candidate Herman Cain, would not be nominated after all. Cain has faced a pushback to the idea of his nomination because of sexual harassment allegations. “My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board,” Trump tweeted Monday. “I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!”
Between Cain and Moore, Trump’s choices have shown that he is as comfortable as ever stocking the nation’s powerful institutions with men who appear to lack respect for women.