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On the July 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood declared his intent to "defend" Robin Givhan's July 20 Washington Post Style section article which referred to the "cleavage on display" during Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) July 18 speech on the Senate floor. Harwood then asserted: "When you look at the calculation that goes into everything that Hillary Clinton does, for her to argue that she was not aware of what she was communicating by her dress is like Barry Bonds saying he thought he was rubbing down with flaxseed oil." As Media Matters for America has documented media figures frequently portray Clinton as "calculating" or overly ambitious, while rarely offering actual examples or support.
In the article, Givhan called Clinton's appearance "unnerving" and wrote: "[I]t was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!" Since the column, Post employees such as columnists Ruth Marcus and Dana Milbank have distanced themselves from Givhan's remarks, as Media Matters noted.
From the July 29 edition of NBC News' Meet the Press:
RUSSERT: I want to give Gene Robinson equal time for barber shops.
EUGUNE ROBINSON (Washington Post columnist): Well, I'll take equal time for barber shops. I think [Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL] needs to find some barbershops in New Hampshire to visit. And, you know, you won't have a lot of hair left if he gets it cut there many, many times. It's pretty short right now. I also -- let me jump in and offer a word in defense of Robin Givhan, the Washington Post columnist who wrote the cleavage column. As her former boss, you know, you either cover fashion or you don't. And I think it's legitmate to argue that you shouldn't worry about fashion, but, you know, it's the way we present ourselves to the world, to others. We make decisions every morning on what we put on and how -- what sort of image we want to project. And unfortunately in our society, women are scrutinized in a way that men aren't. I mean, what did John Edwards wear at the YouTube debate? What did Barack Obama wear?
MITCHELL: Eugene, arguably, if you look at the Senate floor any day of the week, if you look at the floor of the House of Commons when a new cabinet minister was speaking, who had a far more low-cut neckline, this was so marginal. This was like microscopic evidence --
HARWOOD: I'm going to defend that column too.
MITCHELL: --of inappropriate attire.
HARWOOD: I'm going to defend that column too. When you look at the calculation that goes into everything that Hillary Clinton does, for her to argue that she was not aware of what she was communicating by her dress is like Barry Bonds saying he thought he was rubbing down with flaxseed oil, OK?
MITCHELL: Sometimes a blouse is just a blouse.
RUSSERT: I'm going to move on to South Carolina because this is important. Here's the polls from South Carolina.