Fox to Newscasters–Wear Red White and Blue

Believe it or not, the news anchors and reporters at the Fox-owned station WFLD Channel 32 were ordered by their boss to wear flashy clothes — preferably “red white and blue.” Robert Feder writes in today’s Chicago Sun Times.

In an internal memo obtained by this column, Andrew Finlayson, the recently installed vice president of news at Channel 32, told on-air staffers to think of their election night coverage as a “party” and to dress accordingly.

“Dull clothes are out,” Finlayson declared. “Red white and blue is in . . . I know it sounds obvious . . . but sometimes people forget and show up in just shades of gray. We want to be comfortable, professional and ready to rock.”

What’s the point of his wardrobe edict? Ratings, of course.

“Sparkle and shine,” Finlayson wrote, “and give the viewers a visual difference when they are flipping around. Content will win, but you want to catch the eye of our friends and neighbors at home.”

As of this writing, it’s too soon to tell whether the dress code had any effect on Channel 32’s ratings. (The station’s newscasts generally lag behind its competitors, which accounts for the recent management upheaval there.)

But the very idea of journalists being ordered to wear attention-getting costumes while they cover the news struck some staffers as offensive, patronizing or just plain dumb. And the idea of putting such a directive in writing might have been even dumber.

Cue the clowns and jugglers.