Fox News’ newest employee Caitlyn Jenner assures viewers that she’s a “patriot” and not a “trans activist.”

Fox News celebrated International Transgender Day of Visibility this week by signing a new contribution deal CaitlynJenner. However, the Olympic gold medalist-turned-reality-TV star and failed California gubernatorial candidate was quick to reassure Fox News viewers that she was “not a trans activist” in her first paid appearance on the network — a short, roughly three-minute spot Sean Hannity‘s show. Jenner’s new performance drew heavy criticism from conservative pundits, which is not surprising given the Republican Party’s nationwide war on transgender rights. Those tensions were captured Thursday night when Hannity welcomed Jenner into the Fox family with a clip of the Florida governor Ron DeSantis to crack down on Disney employees for protesting recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Florida. Jenner spent most of her spot telling audiences that being transgender was just “a part” of her life, reiterating that she was a “patriot” before describing herself as “common sense person” and all remembered that she helped raise 10 children and has 20 grandchildren.

“My father fought in World War II. My mom is 95… and she’s a patriot. I grew up that way and I want it to stay that way,” Jenner said, trying to divert focus from the litany of anti-transgender legislation Republicans are passing (though she conceded that LGBTQ+ issues will likely play an outsized role in will play the Midterms 2022 ). Hannity ended the segment by asking that Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” law be passed, citing it as a way for US educators to focus on “math, science, English” proficiency scores, rather than one “awakened” agenda. Jenner shrugged and called the idea behind the Florida law — or at least, as Hannity put it — “great.” “I’m a common sense person, and that’s called common sense,” Jenner said.

Still, Jenner’s attempts to blend in with the Fox News crowd by wrapping herself in the American flag and asserting that she supports (or at least is indifferent to) the Republican assault on LGBTQ+ rights are unlikely to convince some conservative media figures. “I’m ashamed of my friends at Fox News” wrote Blaze TV Host Elijah Schaffer in response to the Jenner deal. Todd Starnes, a former Fox News Radio host who quit the network in 2019 after a guest on his show accused Democrats of worshiping a pagan god synonymous with child sacrifice, called The hiring “isn’t about ideology—it’s about the almighty dollar.” “No surprise Fox would hire a transgender activist…. So someone checked the numbers and decided that this is a good financial investment,” Starnes said tweeted Thursday. So did Trump’s former White House adviser Darren Beattie mocked the move as a clever maneuver designed to shield Fox from criticism. “Caitlyn Jenner on Fox…so now the cattle can say they’re not transphobic,” tweeted Beattie, a former Tucker Carlson tonight Guest.

Jenner has always held an odd position in the GOP; Jenner, an extremely wealthy longtime Hollywood Republican who came out as trans in 2015, said, “Coming out as trans was easy. It was harder to come out as a Republican.” In 2021, after a failed California gubernatorial race, Jenner called on Republicans to become “more inclusive.” It’s clear the party is going in the opposite direction, as a number of red states pass legislation banning trans students from participating in organized sports in some schools and barring trans youth from receiving gender-biased tutoring. In Texas, the governor considered gender-affirming foster care “child abuse” aimed at the parents of trans minors receiving such foster care.

Jenner received a warm welcome by Fox personalities Tammy Bruce and Tom Lahren. Lahren tweeted“Proud of the reception [Jenner] to the Fox News family. She is a kind and wonderful person who fights harder than most for freedom and American values.” In a statement Thursday announcing the hiring, the Fox News Media CEO said Suzanne Scott described Jenner as “an inspiration to all of us” and “a pioneer in the LGBTQ+ community.” Scott also noted that Jenner’s “elevated career encompasses a variety of areas that will be a tremendous addition to our audience.”

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Curtis Crabtree

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