The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Sexualization of Journalism

Posted on | February 28, 2013 | 23 Comments

Marin Cogan complains in The New Republic that some people don’t know where to draw the line:

As a political reporter for GQ, I’ve been jokingly asked whether I ever posed for the magazine and loudly called a porn star by a senior think-tank fellow at his institute’s annual gala. In my prior job as a Hill reporter, one of my best source relationships with a member of Congress ended after I remarked that I looked like a witch who might hop on a broom in my new press-badge photo and he replied that I looked like I was “going to hop on something.”

What? You’re going to give up your best source because he made an off-color joke? Geez. Cogan’s story continues:

Sometimes they reach the level of stalking: One colleague had a high-profile member of Congress go out of his way to track down her cell-phone number, call and text repeatedly to tell her she was beautiful, offer to take her parents on a tour of the Capitol, and even invite her to go boating back home in his district.
“I think journalism schools should have workshops for young female reporters on managing old men who have no game and think, because you’re listening to them intently and probing what they think and feel, that you’re romantically interested, rather than conducting an interview,” says Garance Franke-Ruta, a senior editor at The Atlantic. “Every female reporter I know has had this issue at one time or another.”

“Managing old men who have no game”? Care to name names, Garance? Or are you unwilling to burn a source? Can we just assume this is a reference to Harry Reid?

Never mind. The problem is that this is learned behavior. If powerful men in D.C. weren’t accustomed to scoring with young women who hope to sleep their way to the top of the ziggurat of ambition, this kind of misconduct would not be so common as to be nearly ubiquitous.

We have certainly seen that “a high-profile member of Congress” can cross the line, but ask yourself: Where do these guys get the idea that they are hot commodities? Why do they expect women to be flattered by their interest? In a sexualized society, the lines become blurred because, every once in a while, one thing leads to the other:

The month after her White House internship began, Ms. Lewinsky and the President began what she characterized as “intense flirting.” At departure ceremonies and other events, she made eye contact with him, shook hands, and introduced herself. When she ran into the President in the West Wing basement and introduced herself again, according to Ms. Lewinsky, he responded that he already knew who she was. Ms. Lewinsky told her aunt that the President “seemed attracted to her or interested in her or something,” and told a visiting friend that “she was attracted to [President Clinton], she had a big crush on him, and I think she told me she at some point had gotten his attention, that there was some mutual eye contact and recognition, mutual acknowledgment.” . . .
According to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President made eye contact when he came to the West Wing to see Mr. Panetta and Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, then again later at an informal birthday party for Jennifer Palmieri, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff. At one point, Ms. Lewinsky and the President talked alone in the Chief of Staff’s office. In the course of flirting with him, she raised her jacket in the back and showed him the straps of her thong underwear, which extended above her pants.

How often does that kind of thing happen in Washington? Often enough, we may suppose, that “old men with no game” get the mistaken idea that female reporters angling for an exclusive may be interested in more than a scoop.

UPDATE: Maureen O’Connor wonders why female reporters don’t “out” congressmen who “creep” on them. Excuse me for suspecting that (a) most female reporters are liberal and (b) most of the congressmen hitting on them are Democrats, and therefore (c) keeping hush about it amounts to “taking one for the team.” I mean, Ted Kennedy’s drunken womanizing was never a secret in Washington, and yet he was supposedly a hero of women’s rights.

Oh, I almost forgot this quote from Marin Cogan’s story:

One Washington climate reporter remembers an environmentalist stroking her leg at one such outing and noting, disapprovingly, that she hadn’t shaved.

Environmentalists are all creeps. But that’s not “news.”



23 Responses to “The Sexualization of Journalism”

  1. Bob Belvedere
    February 28th, 2013 @ 10:55 am


  2. pabarge
    February 28th, 2013 @ 11:05 am

    Marin Cogan in case you were interested.

  3. DarthLevin
    February 28th, 2013 @ 11:07 am

    You’d think, “Senator Whoozitz is a skeezy old lech who thinks he can stick his not-so-happily-married hands on anything with two X chromosomes” would make a good set of articles that would sell LOTS of ink, but I guess not.

  4. pabarge
    February 28th, 2013 @ 11:07 am

    Oh, and here’s Garance Franke-Ruta in case you were interested.

  5. McGehee
    February 28th, 2013 @ 11:15 am

    Ziggurat of Ambition

    What am I bid for this excellent band name, fresh off the smoking keyboard of the irrepressible Stacy McCain?

  6. Steve Skubinna
    February 28th, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    The Prime Directive of feminism is to use every advantage or trick you can, and decry it when you can’t. And if you are past the point where a particular gambit is useful, you bitterly blame the Patriarchy for it.

  7. Andrew Patrick
    February 28th, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

    And here I was thinking that enviros liked their women hairy. So dies another stereotype…

  8. McGehee
    February 28th, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

    My God, she looks 12.

  9. gvanderleun
    February 28th, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

    Got a bit of a Monica mouth but other than that she wouldn’t be hot in LA or NYC, Seattle, maybe, depending on the size of the tramp stamp on her back.

  10. alanstorm
    February 28th, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    “taking one for the team.”? Kind of a new twist on that phrase, isn’t it?

  11. alanstorm
    February 28th, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    “taking one for the team.”? Kind of a new twist on that phrase, isn’t it?

  12. JeffS
    February 28th, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

    Can we just assume this is a reference to Harry Reid?

    I think not, given the stories that Reid is a lifelong pederast.

  13. Adjoran
    February 28th, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

    This came up in a search, looks a bit more filled out than the one pabarge found – but surely proves she wants nothing to do with creepy older men.

  14. theCL Report: Grasping at Shadows
    February 28th, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

    […] The Sexualization of Journalism […]

  15. Wombat_socho
    February 28th, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

    Twenty thousand quatloos!

  16. Wombat_socho
    February 28th, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

    What an unfortunate caption.

  17. Sex In The City | That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    February 28th, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    […] Stacy McCain goes into detail here about a couple of feminist journalists who complain about anonymous politicians who put the move on them. […]

  18. Bob Belvedere
    February 28th, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

    Just Image-Googled her. Man, her eyes are far apart.

  19. Mike G.
    February 28th, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

    Some women journalists complain about being hit on by politicians in
    the halls and offices of Washington D.C. These are the same women that
    fought tooth and nail for the so called sexual revolution…you know, “If
    it feels good, do it.”

    The same women who fight everyday for the woman’s right to choose, (
    if I don’t want it, it’s just a blob of tissue, if I want it, it’s a
    baby), are complaining because they feel like they don’t have a choice
    about turning down flirtations or sexual advances by powerful men in
    Washington. Guess what “ladies”, you do have a choice…start naming names
    and shame these worthless pieces of shit. Until you do start shaming
    these people publicly, you will always have this problem and I will have
    absolutely no sympathy for you.

  20. DaveO
    February 28th, 2013 @ 8:56 pm

    What’s the woman’s opinion on Bill Clinton and Paula Jones?
    Bill Clinton: the shibboleth of Feminism

  21. K-Bob
    February 28th, 2013 @ 9:57 pm

    Nah, they want ’em to look underaged.

  22. Bob Cavalli
    March 1st, 2013 @ 9:01 am

    I guess they don’t like to ‘out’ their predators, lest they lose them as sources.

    Seems to me that she’s a whore, and we’re just haggling over the price.

  23. Roxeanne de Luca
    March 1st, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

    As I keep saying, slut-shaming is the tool of women, not the patriarchy. Only when we can condemn women for showing their thongs to their bosses can we get our bosses to understand that we do not to show them our thongs.

    As creepy as the “My virginity belongs to my future husband!” stuff is, it has the virtue of excluding every other man on the planet from the woman’s pants.