Fox News' Neil Cavuto introduced an interview with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Playboy model Kara Monaco, who had just been named the 2006 "Playmate of the Year," by saying: "[T]his really is a big, big business story. The winner becomes the new face of Playboy, itself an empire, for the next year, representing the company around the world and schmoozing with powerful business titans." The ensuing interview, however, was light on business discussion but featured plenty of scantily clad and nude (though obscured) footage of Monaco.
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On the May 4 edition of Fox News' premier business news program, Your World, host Neil Cavuto conducted an interview with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Playboy model Kara Monaco, who had just been named the 2006 Playmate of the Year. In introducing the segment, Cavuto offered a pre-emptive defense of the interview -- presumably to those who would question its suitability for a business news program -- saying: "[T]his really is a big, big business story. The winner becomes the new face of Playboy, itself an empire, for the next year, representing the company around the world and schmoozing with powerful business titans." The ensuing interview, however, was light on business discussion but featured plenty of scantily clad and nude (though obscured) footage of Monaco.
The interview with Hefner and Monaco is only the most recent example of a report by Cavuto featuring nude or scantily clad women thinly disguised as "business news." During the May 4 interview, Cavuto asked exactly two questions relating to the business of Playboy: He asked Hefner if there were a correlation between Republican presidencies and poor Playboy earnings and inquired about Hefner's role at the magazine. There was no discussion of how Monaco, as "the new face of Playboy," would be "representing the company" or "schmoozing with powerful business titans," as Cavuto had suggested in justifying the segment.
Instead, Cavuto asked about Monaco's background as a Cinderella at Walt Disney World and how Hefner responds to charges that he is a "smut peddler." Cavuto also asked Monaco if she "reflects" on former Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith and her recent victory in the Supreme Court, and on the fact that Smith "could be a fairly rich lady." Lastly, Cavuto asked Monaco to respond to "the more liberal, modern-day women" who "are saying that ... you are dragging them down." During the interview, the on-screen text read: "First Interview with New 2006 Playmate of the Year!"
From the May 4 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto:
CAVUTO: All right. We have been getting a lot of buzz on this segment all week. And now it's here, an annual event that raises a lot of eyebrows from Main Street to Wall Street, Playboy's Playmate of the Year. And before you say, "Oh, Neil, stop," this really is a big, big business story. The winner becomes the new face of Playboy, itself an empire, for the next year, representing the company around the world and schmoozing with powerful business titans. The lucky lady, announced just minutes ago -- joining me now for her first live interview is Kara Monaco. She is the 2006 Playmate of the Year. And you know that fellow next to her, Playboy Enterprise founder and creator Hugh Hefner.
Welcome to both of you.
HEFNER: Thank you.
MONACO: Thank you.
CAVUTO: Kara, to you first. I was reading that you were a former Cinderella at Walt Disney World. What do you think the kids would be saying now?
MONACO: Yes. That's correct.
CAVUTO: What do you think -- what do you -- what do you think your kids, your -- your fans would be saying now?
MONACO: You know, I don't -- I don't know if the kids read Playboy, but maybe their parents do.
HEFNER: When they grow up.
MONACO: Yes. When they grow up, they'll see it.
HEFNER: I think the message here is that Cinderella has lost more than her shoe.
MONACO: Yes. Exactly.
CAVUTO: You know, Hugh Hefner, knowing that you would be on the show, quite a few viewers have been emailing me all day, some very complimentary, but I got to tell you, most not, some -- some saying, he is a smut peddler. Another viewer saying, "Neil, I am disgusted that you are even having him on." Still, someone else said, "Hugh Hefner is evil." What do you say?
HEFNER: Well -- well, I think that -- and I said it a long time ago -- you know, we do live in a conflicted society. And -- and part of it is puritan. I think people's perceptions, in terms of Playboy, are very personal. And I think my life and the magazine are rather like an inkblot or Rorschach test. People project their own dreams, fantasies, and prejudices on to me.
CAVUTO: Does it bother you, though, that -- maybe this happens on a day, you know, your -- your earnings did not quite measure what Wall Street thought, that maybe your company is under some pressure, that -- I don't know whether it happens only during Republican administrations, when your numbers go down. But is -- is there a connection between that? You didn't do well during the Reagan years.
HEFNER: Of course it's --
CAVUTO: You're not doing well during the Bush years. What's going on?
HEFNER: Well, we had problems during the Reagan years, too. Of course there's a connection. In other words, we don't and never have played on a level playing field. We -- we have problems of distribution in some parts of the country. We have problems in some areas related to advertising. And that has to do with politics. But I think that is what makes it all worthwhile. It means that Playboy makes a difference.
HEFNER: And --
CAVUTO: OK. Kara, I got to ask you, because you follow a pretty impressive group of women who have gone on to achieve fame. One of them was Anna Nicole Smith, who, as you know, in the last week, won a major Supreme Court ruling. Do you reflect on her and the fact that she could be a fairly rich lady?
CAVUTO: Kara, can -- Kara, can you hear that? That's for Kara.
MONACO: You know, I don't know if I can reflect on -- I don't know -- I don't know if I can reflect on her. But Playboy has a tradition. And it has been around for 53 years. So, women that grace that page -- women that grace --
HEFNER: And we are happy -- we are happy for -- for Anna Nicole. It is one of those instances, as a matter of fact, in which the Bush administration and Playboy were on the same side.
CAVUTO: Kara, what do you do with this? I mean, after -- you're Playmate of the Year. I mean, where do you go? What do you want to do?
MONACO: I am just going to spend the next year traveling and representing the company as their -- as Playboy's ambassador for the next year.
CAVUTO: As far as you go, Mr. Hefner, I have had your daughter on many times. I have always asked her -- I know you're the big-concept thinker for the company, but a lot of the people only know you running around the mansion in the silk robe. What do you do? What do you -- what do you do?
HEFNER: That's what I do. I run around the mansion in a silk robe. That's my job.
CAVUTO: But, conceptually, how much do you help Christie [Hefner] out, I mean, with the magazine, with some of the added products, Spice, and what have you?
HEFNER: Well, the magazine is my -- is my bailiwick. In other words, the creative and editorial end of the company is -- is what I take care of. And she takes care of the business end. And that makes it a very nice partnership.
CAVUTO: Kara, to you. I know it's very hard to hear, because there is a big crowd there, Kara. But a lot of more, you know, liberal, modern-day women are saying that, you know, you are dragging them down, that here you are, you are a beautiful woman, obviously, but that you're dragging them down, that this isn't how women should be characterized, nude in pictorials, and that sort of thing. What do you say?
MONACO: You know, Playboy may not be for everybody, but I think most of our subscribers now today are women. And I think that Playboy only puts us in a way that we're as classy as possible.
CAVUTO: OK. Well, Kara, I want to congratulate you. Hugh Hefner, always a pleasure.
MONACO: Thank you.
CAVUTO: Kara, enjoy that reign, OK?
MONACO: Thank you very much.
CAVUTO: All right.
HEFNER: Thank you.