MSNBC cropped Vogue editor quote about Clinton's canceled photo shoot, omitting editor's criticism of the media

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

Discussing Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour's "letter from the editor," in which she addressed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's cancellation of a scheduled cover shoot, MSNBC gossip columnist Courtney Hazlett selectively quoted from Wintour's letter, omitting a portion directly preceding Wintour's assertion, "This is America, not Saudi Arabia." The omitted portion is directed at the media, not Clinton, and said: "How has our culture come to this? How is it that The Washington Post recoils from the slightest hint of cleavage on a senator?"

On the January 21 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Willie Geist and MSNBC gossip columnist Courtney Hazlett discussed Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour's February 2008 "letter from the editor," in which Wintour addressed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's cancellation of a scheduled cover shoot. Hazlett reported: "Hillary Clinton pulled out of that cover shoot. Her campaign told Anna Wintour and Vogue that Ms. Clinton's camp were concerned that if Clinton appeared in Vogue that she would appear too feminine. ... Well, time has not healed all wounds, and Ms. Wintour has written about this in her editor's letter in the February issue." Hazlett added that Wintour "did not take this lightly at all," and proceeded to quote from Wintour's "letter from the editor." However, Hazlett and the onscreen text purporting to represent Wintour's remarks selectively quoted from the letter, including her statement that "[t]he notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying" but omitting a portion directly preceding Wintour's assertion: "This is America, not Saudi Arabia." The omitted portion is directed at the media, not Clinton, and said: "How has our culture come to this? How is it that The Washington Post recoils from the slightest hint of cleavage on a senator?"

From Wintour's "letter from the editor" with the omitted portion highlighted with bold italics:

This spring we are blessed with a fantastic variety of subtle, sophisticated clothes that make a woman -- at work, at the playground, at cocktails -- look marvelously modern. See for yourself in Craig McDean and Grace Coddington's celebratory portfolio of day dressing at its most compelling, appropriate, and chic.

Imagine my amazement, then, when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our only female presidential hopeful, had decided to steer clear of our pages at this point in her campaign for fear of looking too feminine. The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying. How has our culture come to this? How is it that The Washington Post recoils from the slightest hint of cleavage on a senator? This is America, not Saudi Arabia. It's also 2008: [former British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher may have looked terrific in a blue power suit, but that was 20 years ago. I do think Americans have moved on from the power-suit mentality, which served as a bridge for a generation of women to reach boardrooms filled with men. Political campaigns that do not recognize this are making a serious misjudgment.

But, in quoting Wintour's remarks, Hazlett said:

HAZLETT: She did not take this lightly at all. What Anna Wintour said, in part: "Imagine my amazement when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our only female president hopeful, had decided to steer clear of our pages at this point in her campaign for fear of looking feminine. The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying. This is America, not Saudi Arabia."

As the italicized portion of Wintour's letter makes clear, Hazlett quoted two different parts of Wintour's statement as one continuous quote without ellipses to indicate that words had been omitted. In addition, as Hazlett was alleging to quote Wintour's letter, on-screen text displayed only the portion of Wintour's remarks that Hazlett quoted. The on-screen text did not include Wintour's question about "our culture" and her reference to The Washington Post, without indicating through ellipses or otherwise that in the passage displayed on the screen words had been omitted.

Wintour's mention of The Washington Post refers to a July 20, 2007, Washington Post Style section article headlined "Hillary Clinton's Tentative Dip Into New Neckline Territory," in which staff writer Robin Givhan wrote that "[t]here was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton." Givhan further asserted that Clinton's look was "unnerving" and claimed: "The last time Clinton wore anything that was remotely sexy in a public setting surely must have been more than a decade ago." Givhan added, "[I]t was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!" Following Givhan's article, several media outlets picked up on the story. For instance, on the July 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, during an exchange with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and NBC chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell, CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood declared his intent to "defend" Givhan's article. Harwood 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."

From the February 2008 Vogue:

This spring we are blessed with a fantastic variety of subtle, sophisticated clothes that make a woman -- at work, at the playground, at cocktails -- look marvelously modern. See for yourself in Craig McDean and Grace Coddington's celebratory portfolio of day dressing at its most compelling, appropriate, and chic.

Imagine my amazement, then, when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our only female presidential hopeful, had decided to steer clear of our pages at this point in her campaign for fear of looking too feminine. The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying. How has our culture come to this? How is it that The Washington Post recoils from the slightest hint of cleavage on a senator? This is America, not Saudi Arabia. It's also 2008: Margaret Thatcher may have looked terrific in a blue power suit, but that was 20 years ago. I do think Americans have moved on from the power-suit mentality, which served as a bridge for a generation of women to reach boardrooms filled with men. Political campaigns that do not recognize this are making a serious misjudgment.

Therefore, in a spirit of fashion, feminism, and fun, we have taken some looks from the recent New York pre-fall collections and will put them forward for Senator Clinton's consideration. We hope she will find them inspiring and empowering. For example, we would love to see her wear a demure coat in delicious purple by Carolina Herrera to memorial services on Martin Luther King Jr., Day. Or a niftily tailored white sile pantsuit by Franscisco Costa for Calvin Klein when she campaigns in sunny Florida. Senator Clinton is a fan of the trouser suit: Why not for a lunch with supporters in South Carolina, a chocolate brown ensemble with fuller legs and pretty sleeves by Oscar de la Renta; or a rethought tuxedo by Herrera with cardigan, feathered shell, and satin-striped pants for a black-tie fundraiser in New York? For bigger nights, still, and for a romantic Valentine's Day look, we would suggest long dresses from Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Herrera, and de la Renta that provide glamour without girliness. They speak volumes about the confidence, discretion, experience, and - yes -- femininity of their wearer. And they'd get my vote.

--Anna Wintour

From the January 21 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

GEIST: All right, now a little bit of presidential politics crossing over here with pop culture. Anna Wintour, of course, the world-famous editor of Vogue magazine, critiquing Hillary Clinton. What'd she say?

HAZLETT: Well, I don't know if you recall this or not, Willie, late -- in the late summer, we were talking to GQ magazine had pulled a cover of Bill Clinton. It was going to be a "Man of the Year"-type cover. And they did it so that they could save this Vogue cover that we heard Hillary Clinton would be appearing on. And Hillary Clinton pulled out of that cover shoot. Her campaign told Anna Wintour and Vogue that Ms. Clinton's camp were concerned that if Clinton appeared in Vogue that she would appear too feminine. That's what the Clinton camp told Vogue magazine at that time. Well, time has not healed all wounds, and Ms. Wintour has written about this in her editor's letter in the February issue.

GEIST: I didn't think she'd take this lightly. What did she say?

HAZLETT: She did not take this lightly at all. What Anna Wintour said, in part: "Imagine my amazement, then, when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our only female president hopeful, had decided to steer clear of our pages at this point in her campaign for fear of looking feminine. The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying. This is America, not Saudi Arabia."

GEIST: And she went on to say the power suit on Margaret Thatcher worked 20 years ago.

HAZLETT: Precisely.

GEIST: Doesn't work any more on Senator Clinton.

HAZLETT: Doesn't work so much now. So I think it's interesting. Her brother magazine, Vanity Fair, the editor in chief, Graydon Carter, he's often criticizing the presidency and politics in his editor's letter. This is one of the first times we've really seen Anna Wintour speak out, and I think it's because it was a personal affront to her. But she really does, I think, go to great pains to really defend the image that Vogue magazine has, which, it isn't this really hoity-toity magazine. When, in fact, Vogue magazine, if you look at the readership, most of the readers are in all those states that we fly over between California and New York. It's not the readership that maybe the Clinton camp thought it was or what the general perception is. It's Middle America. It's women who really like to go to the pages of Vogue to see who they're looking up to at the moment. Anna Wintour is not happy that Hillary Clinton bowed out.

GEIST: The message to Senator Clinton: You might be the most famous and potentially powerful woman in the world, but you do not dis Anna Wintour and Vogue magazine.

HAZLETT: I'm not going to dis Anna Wintour.

GEIST: I advise you against it.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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