There are a lot of legitimate reasons to criticize Sarah Palin, her new book, and her policies, but you don't have to stoop to sexism to do it. Newsweek's November 23 issue, however, does just that by publishing on its cover a photo of Palin in short running shorts and a fitted top, leaning against the American flag. Making matters worse is the equally offensive headline Newsweek editors chose to run alongside the photo -- "How Do You Solve a Problem like Sarah?" -- presumably a reference to the Sound of Music song, "Maria," in which nuns fret about "how" to "solve a problem like Maria," a "girl" who "climbs trees" and whose "dress has a tear."
Now, this photograph may have been completely appropriate for the cover of the magazine for which the picture was apparently intended, Runners World. But Newsweek is supposed to be a serious newsmagazine, and the magazine is certainly not reporting on Palin's exercise habits.
Like her or not, Palin is a former governor and vice presidential candidate. She deserves the same respect every single one of her male counterparts receives when they are featured on the cover of the magazine. I must have missed the cover of Vice President Joe Biden in short shorts or of Mitt Romney in a bathing suit.
Newsweek's sexist treatment of Palin doesn't get any better inside its pages. The mag ran this photo to lead off its "Features" section, which focused on Palin:
Then, for no apparent reason, illustrating Christopher Hitchens' piece on "Palin's base appeal," Newsweek ran a picture of this disgusting Sarah Palin-as-a-slutty-schoolgirl doll:
What kind of message is the magazine trying to send here?
This is just the latest in a pattern of the media's sexist coverage of female politicians. With regard to Palin, Media Matters documented the sexist treatment both Palin and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received throughout the 2008 campaign. For instance, after McCain announced Palin as his VP, sexist commentary on cable news soon followed.
Some "raise[d] the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?" Others promoted the sexist notion that Biden will have to soften his tone and manner in a debate against Palin, since she is a woman. And despite repeatedly accusing liberals of engaging in sexist attacks on Palin, conservative males were no better.
In addition to drooling over the "panty line" he convinced himself he saw, radio host Chris Baker claimed Palin "shoulda had a little cleavage going" during the vice presidential debate in order to "[d]istract [Sen.] Joe Biden a little bit" and advised Palin: "[S]how your stuff, you know what I'm saying? Use all your assets." Discussing the "ugly skanks" in the Democratic Party who are jealous of Palin's "good look[s]," radio host Lee Rodgers offered: "I mean, my God -- you know, guys sitting around, talking, perhaps in a bar someplace -- they have a way of scoring them. ... I know, it's sexist. It's sexist. It's unfair, and all of that, but they will look over a female who comes in and just make an announcement: How many drinks it would take before you'd jump her bones, you know." According to Rodgers, that's what liberal women are "PO'd about. Sarah Palin's good-looking and they hate that."
Newsweek offers some interesting analysis of Palin and her appeal in its November 23 issue. Unfortunately, its sexist treatment of Palin's physical appearance distracts from any legitimate arguments the magazine and its contributors wish to make.
Last week after reading Scott Rasmussen's sky-falling-on-Obama polling piece in the WSJ, I asked, "Since when do serious, 'independent' pollsters write columns urging the president to "shift right"?, which is what Rasmussen did.
Now, in the wake of his recent posting, I have to ask, since when do serious, 'independent' pollster hawk partisan books in their survey write-ups?
This week Rasmussen arrives with (surprise!) a pro-Palin poll just in time for her book release, and at the same time when other pollsters are finding a clear majority of Americans don't think Palin is qualified to be president.
Not only is Rasmussen's new survey a stroke of luck for Palin, but note this passage [emphasis added]:
Sixteen percent (16%) of all voters are following news about Palin's book release very closely, and 20% say they are likely to read it. That latter figure includes 31% of Republican voters. (To order the book, Going Rogue, click HERE).
Huh? Pollster Rasmussen is now pointing people to Amazon to buy a partisan politician's new book? I'm guessing Gallup does not do that.
Appearing on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos over the weekend, Ifill suggested women voters are intrigued by Palin's tale: "You cannot underestimate the degree that women will be drawn to her story."
Actually, you can underestimate it. Women voters are kinda, sorta turned off by Palin's story [emphasis added]:
Among women, who, theoretically, should form the base of Palin's support, nearly four in ten (39 percent) have a strongly unfavorable impression of her while just 20 percent were strongly favorable. Overall 39 percent of women had a favorable impression of Palin while 57 percent had an unfavorable one.
The Nation's Ari Melber notes that Yuval Levin, formerly an aide in George W. Bush's domestic policy shop, is Newsweek's editor of national affairs, in which position he has written that liberals must "pull back to the center--or suffer the consequences." And warned of "Obama fatigue." And suggested the stimulus package passed earlier this year should have contained a "meaningful tax-cut component." (Melber notes that in fact the stimulus contained $280 billion in tax cuts, which seems pretty meaningful to me.)And in June, Levin co-wrote a column with Bill Kristol, declaring "ObamaCare is wrong. It should and can be defeated."
In March, a piece Levin wrote for Newsweek identified him as a "Bush veteran." But more his more recent bylines have described him simply as "editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center," so Melber asked Newsweek why Levin's partisan background is no longer disclosed. Here's the response he got from a Newsweek spokesperson:
Levin's previous article for Newsweek involved the issue of bioethics, his primary focus while at the White House. He disclosed his prior position in the body of that piece. His most recent article was not related to that topic. We believe our readers are aware of Mr. Levin's background, and are able to discern a reported news article from argument, which Levin's recent piece was. (Emphasis added.)
This is absolute nonsense. There isn't one person in a hundred who knows Yuval Levin worked in the Bush White House. Is there even one person in a thousand? In ten thousand? And how many know he co-authors attacks on "ObamaCare" with Bill Kristol and contributes to National Review Online?
Newsweek's apparent belief that because they disclosed Levin's background once, long ago, all of their readers have committed his resume to memory reminded me of Anne Applebaum's recent defense of her failure to disclose the fact that her husband is an official in the Polish government who was lobbying for leniency for Roman Polanski while she was writing in support of the same.
Applebaum, a columnist for Newsweek's sibling publication, the Washington Post, wrote: "For the record, I will note that I mentioned my husband's job in a column as recently as last week, and that when he first entered the Polish government three years ago I wrote a column about that too. I have to assume that the bloggers who have leapt upon this as some kind of secret revelation are simply unfamiliar with my writing."
This is nonsense. If a conflict exists, it isn't sufficient to disclose it once. It must be disclosed every time it is relevant. Applebaum seems to assume that Washington Post readers make a mental catalogue of every Post reporter and columnist, their relationships, and their conflicts of interest. That anyone who ever reads anything she writes will take it upon themselves to keep a running tally of her conflicts, so she need disclose them only once. That, obviously, is not going to happen. And it displays a stunning arrogance -- she thinks everyone who reads her column cares enough about her to know where her husband works.
Finally, she's misstating the nature of what she mocks as the "secret revelation." The criticism wasn't that her husband is an employee of the Polish government. Nobody cares about that. It's that her husband is a Polish government official who is currently lobbying for the very thing Applebaum is arguing in favor of. Surely she understands the difference?
(For the record, Applebaum had another, much better, defense of her failure to disclose her husband's lobbying for Polanski: she says she didn't know he was doing it.)
And then there's Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post media critic with the lucrative side-job hosting a television show for CNN. He's promised to disclose his financial relationship with CNN every time he writes about the cable news giant -- but he doesn't do so. Not even close.
What Kurtz, Levin, and Applebaum have in common -- besides a corporate parent -- is the apparent belief that as long as they disclose potential conflicts of interests once, anyone who ever reads anything they write will be completely aware of their background. That is obviously foolish -- not to mention arrogant. This may be hard for Washington Post Company journalists to believe, but most readers have more important things to do than to memorize the life story of every reporter whose reporting they might encounter.
Leave it to the right-wing blog machine to turn a candlelight vigil on the sidewalks outside Sen. Joe Lieberman's home into a torch-wielding mob of "leftist goons" "threatening" Lieberman and his family. "The radical left is now threatening Joe Lieberman and his family at his home for his stand against nationalized health care," writes Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft. The post features a picture of the protest, which Gateway Pundit has helpfully labeled "leftist goons." Of course, the crowd in the protest looks anything but "threatening" -- rather bored, actually -- but let's review the reporting on the protest. Fortunately, Gateway Pundit provides us a recap from the "far left" Stamford Advocate:
Quietly holding candles, hundreds of clergymen, congregants and reform advocates lined the sidewalks outside Independent U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's Stamford home Sunday night in a show of support for universal health care.
Who hasn't felt threatened by a group of people "quietly holding candles"? Especially "clergymen" quietly holding candles"?
Gateway Pundit also links to video of the rally and states: "They weren't just praying. They were chanting outside his home."
And in the coup de grace (of stupidity), Hoft writes: "Last night they brought candles... Tomorrow?"
From a November 17 TVNewser.com report by Gail Shister:
Lou Dobbs "would be delighted" to join Bill O'Reilly as a semi-regular contributor, Dobbs says.
Dobbs, who resigned from CNN on the air last week, was "surprised and very flattered" when O'Reilly made the offer on his Fox News show last night, Dobbs said in an interview today.
"Absolutely, I'm thinking about it," said Dobbs, on the fly after a "Today" show hit. "I have immense respect for Bill O'Reilly. He's an outstanding broadcaster."
Despite buzz that he will be the next hoss in Roger Ailes' stable, the partisan pontificator says he and his wife plan "to take a lot of time" mulling over numerous offers from "all forms of media and politics."
He won't discuss details, saying only that he feels "blessed and fortunate to have the choices that I do." His CNN contract, which was not set to expire until the end of 2011, does not include a non-compete clause.
Previously / Related:
Media Matters has repeatedly shown that Fox News falls decisively short of being "fair and balanced," but instead is a 24/7 partisan organization -- or as Fox senior VP Bill Shine put it, the "voice of opposition" to the Obama White House.
That's why it was so gratifying to see that, although Fox personalities may still be in denial, others in the News Corp. family have seen the light.
No, really. Check out the News Corp.-owned New York Post's recent reporting on Lou Dobbs' departure from CNN:
Klein long believed Dobbs was at odds with CNN's desire to position itself as an opinion-free, middle-of-the-road alternative to its cable news rivals -- conservative Fox News and liberal MSNBC.
CNN is pushing hard to position itself as a middle-of-the-road news source, between left-leaning MSNBC and conservative Fox News Channel.
Nice to know they've been paying attention.
Washington Post reporter Michael Shear explains his paper's wall-to-wall coverage of Sarah Palin's new book:
Why do we spend so much time on Palin? And is it too much? Perhaps. There's a danger that we are overdoing it -- four stories in today's paper may have reached that point. On the other hand, there seems to be an insatiable demand from our audience -- liberals and conservatives -- and at the end of the day we have to, and should, respond to that.
Really? There's an "insatiable demand" from Washington Post readers for coverage of Sarah Palin's book? How does the Post know this? The book just came out -- has the paper's switchboard been flooded with demands that for all-Going-Rogue, all the time? Are Post editors getting angry emails insisting that three articles in one day's paper just won't do -- a fourth is absolutely necessary, though still not sufficient?
I doubt that very much.
I don't mean to single Shear out here. You see this kind of thing all the time -- reporters justifying something they can't justify on the merits by asserting public demand they can't (or won't) quantify.
Like when Howard Kurtz defended obsessive cable news coverage of a balloon that was not carrying a little boy by writing "The ratings, forgive me, must have soared." Must have? Well ... Did they? Or when Politico's Mike Allen asserted that "Fox executives are relishing" their recent fight with the White House because "ratings at Fox are through the roof" -- without actually providing the ratings to back up that claim. As Eric Boehlert has explained in detail, Fox's ratings spike is a myth.
It's bad enough when journalists suggest that the news media should simply report what the public to see. That isn't journalism -- and if we go too far down that road, it won't be long before NBC Nightly News consists of nothing more than cat videos and B-list celebrity sex tapes. But it's even more frustrating when they make decisions about what to cover based on baseless assumptions about what the public wants.
For years, local news producers have led their stations in a race to the bottom, driven by the prevailing belief that "eyeball grabbers" and "soft news" are the only hope for local news in an era of declining TV audiences.
But a 2004 study* argues that they might want to rethink their approach. In "The Local News Story: Is Quality a Choice?" political science professors Todd L. Belt and Marion Just conclude that sensationalistic news does not lead to sensational ratings.
Belt, assistant professor at the University of Hawai'i, Hilo, and Just, a professor at Wellesley College and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, argue that the prevailing worldview in the nation's newsrooms has it all backward: Good, solid journalism, not tawdry, tabloid-style content, keeps viewers tuned to their TVs.
What Belt and Just found certainly goes against industry conventional wisdom.
"The data show quality journalism produces commercial success," they write. Newscasts that posted high scores on the quality index nabbed higher ratings than their mediocre counterparts. The finding held true for both the early and late evening news time slots. It also held for lead stories, suggesting that the old TV news mantra - "If it bleeds, it leads" - might be in need of revision.
Although local news viewership as a whole fell during the period covered by the study - 1998 to 2002 - the data nonetheless show that those stations that produced high-quality newscasts did better in hanging on to their audience.
He already served time as Laura Bush's flak, so maybe GOP lapdog Malcolm is eying a return to the Republican payroll. His crush on Palin is quite obvious this week, although Malcolm's reading comprehension skills seem suspect as ever.
Get a load of this headline:
Going berserk over 'Going Rogue;' Democrats' reaction to Sarah Palin book and publicity
According to Malcolm's astute reading of the political landscape, it's Democrats who are going "berserk" over Palin's book. And how many "Democrats" does Malcolm quote in his piece? Yeah, that'd be zero because, as everyone else but Malcolm realizes, Democrats are pretty much sitting the Palin thing out this week and gleefully watching as Palin pits Republicans vs. Republicans as they conduct another bloody round of the 2008 Blame Game.
Always desperate for a partisan spin, Malcolm, as is his custom, just makes stuff up and claims Democrats are going "berserk" over Palin's book. But oops, Malcolm doesn't actually quote a single Democrat to prove his point.
Malcolm and Palin could make a perfect pair.
UPDATED: What's Malcolm's proof that (nameless) Democrats are going "berserk"? The fact that the DNC has sent out some emails containing links to Palin-related news stories. Oh brother. This is lame even by Malcolm standards.
From The Fox Nation, accessed on November 17: