Sunday, June 22, 2008


Clark Hoyt, the public editor of The New York Times, examines charges that his paper was sexist in its coverage of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic nomination contest. He concludes that the paper didn't do a bad job -- except every few days when Maureen Dowd's embarrassment of a column appeared:

...I think a fair reading suggests that The Times did a reasonably good job in its news articles. But Dowd's columns about Clinton's campaign were so loaded with language painting her as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work....

Over the course of the campaign, I received complaints that Times coverage of Clinton included too much emphasis on her appearance, too many stereotypical words that appeared to put her down and dismiss a woman's potential for leadership and too many snide references to her as cold or unlikable. When I pressed for details, the subject often boiled down to Dowd....

Dowd is shocked, shocked. And miffed -- this kind of criticism is unprecedented, she says!

..."I've been twisting gender stereotypes around for 24 years," Dowd responded. She said nobody had objected to her use of similar images about men over seven presidential campaigns...

And she's right -- nobody has ever criticized her gender stereotyping of men.

Oh, except Bob Somerby:

...Let's start, once again, with her sick, endless need to "feminize" Barack Obama.

Not that there's anything new about this. It has now been almost nine years since Dowd told the world that "Al Gore is so feminized...he's practically lactating." (That was June 16, 1999 -- the day of Gore's formal announcement.) It has been almost five years since she helped dub John Edwards "the Breck Girl." (June 8, 2003. After that, she called him "the Breck Girl" in five other columns.) It has been almost a year since she wrote a column headlined, "Obama, Legally Blonde?" (February 14, 2007. One week later, he was "Scarlett O'Hara.") And of course, she has kicked the stuffing out of endless Dem wives, for the nastiest, stupidest reasons you could conjure. In Dowd's world, Major Dem Men are constantly girls -- and Major Dem Women are most often men....

And Atrios:

Dear Maureen [Dowd] and Camille [Paglia]

Okay, we get it. Democrats are all women except female Democrats who are men. You can stop writing now.

And Media Matters and Columbia Journalism Review and Mother Jones and Molly Ivors and Taylor Marsh and me two days ago and you, probably, and lots and lots of other people.

But it's all news to Maureen Dowd, who's apparently as much the "Bubble Girl" as the oblivious George W. Bush is "Bubble Boy." Yes, she insists this is the first she's heard of such criticism. And it's not fair!

..."From the time I began writing about politics," Dowd said, "I have always played with gender stereotypes and mined them and twisted them to force the reader to be conscious of how differently we view the sexes." Now, she said, "you are asking me to treat Hillary differently than I've treated the male candidates all these years, with kid gloves." ...

I don't know about Hoyt, but Atrios (see above) nails it, and the rest of us are asking you to add at least a second joke to your one-joke act.

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