Since her appointment as the new panel member of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mishal Husain has already been salivated over by virtually every newspaper reporting on the story. By the male journalists, that is, who felt called upon to discuss this important event.
Astonishingly, this is the first time the Today Programme has had two female presenters on its panel, and one of an ‘ethnic minority’ (unpleasant phrase, implying as it does that white is the universal norm). Yet despite the er, groundbreaking nature of her selection, Husain is still discussed almost entirely in terms of her looks.
Peter Hoggart at the Guardian felt it necessary to note that Husain is “captivatingly intelligent and beautiful” (hey, at least he said she’s intelligent, right?), while his colleague Peter Preston chose the same combination, describing her as “the most luminous of BBC presenters, combining beauty and a keen intelligence”.
The Telegraph helpfully recounted a 2009 clash between Husain and her new Today co-host John Humphrys, when on Celebrity Mastermind he asked her whether she was only employed for her looks, and implied that in 10 years’ time she would be getting the sack.
However, Quentin Letts at (where else?) the Daily Mail trumps them all with his assessment of “Dishy Mishy”: “her gaze is as steamy as a pan of slimmer’s spinach”.
The thing is, you would think that she could escape this kind of appearance judgement on radio. Where no one will see her.
Nope, apparently not.