June 22, 2008

The NYT "public editor" Clark Hoyt concludes that Maureen Dowd "by assailing Clinton in gender-heavy terms in column after column, went over the top."

"Went over the top" is a pretty mild criticism though, don't you think? Surely, a columnist can exaggerate for comic effect and lampoon public figures. "Over the top" is almost a compliment. So it was over the top? Was it over the line?
... 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...
That Times article? That Times article? For crying out loud! Link!!! To be fair, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, under the heading "Past Coverage," you'll see "Critics and News Executives Split Over Sexism in Clinton Coverage" — with the link I've carried over, and you can figure out that it's the same article referred to in the first paragraph of Hoyt's article. But dammit, Times, put links in the text as you refer to things.

Back to the subject at hand:
“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. She often refers to Barack Obama as “Obambi” and has said he has a “feminine” management style. But the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on Clinton — in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1 — left many readers with the strong feeling that an impermissible line had been crossed, even though, as Dowd noted, she is a columnist who is paid not to be objective....

Politically correct is never a term one would apply to Dowd’s commentary. Her columns this year said Clinton’s “message is unapologetically emasculating,” and that she “needed to prove her masculinity” but in the end “had to fend off calamity by playing the female victim.” In one column Dowd wrote, “She may want to take a cue from the Miss America contest: make a graceful, magnanimous exit and wait in the wings.”

“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.”
Hoyt never says that Dowd went over the line, and I don't see that he's criticized her in any significant way. Nor should he! Her explanation of what she does and why it's right is dead on. Hoyt went through an appropriate "public editor" analysis in response to criticism, and he let it seem as though he was disapproving, and yet I don't see that he really was.

Have the balls to say she was right.


vet66 said...

Maureen Dowd writes like Maureen "DUDE". If one of us testicular neanderthals had the temerity to speak of women the Mo Dude does we would be pilloried.

Ask Larry Summers what happened to his "boys" the last time he spoke at Harvard and gave, by extension, Michelle the vapors. Racism trumps femininity in the democratic party.

The Drill SGT said...

The fundamental reason that the NYT is going to fail is that its Owner, Editors and now its Ombudsman have lost a grasp of the fact that Columists write opinion and that reporters are supposed to write objective stories.

Everybody knows what you are getting when you read Dowd. A very smart opinionated Woman who writes very amusing and witty agenda laden columns.

The Problem is that their reporters write agenda laden rubbish that is neither factual or amusing.

I say that as a NYT subscriber (my ex-NY wife likes the crossword and the features)

The WaPo has some of the same failings, but has not lost all professionalism. Its articles are sometimes slanted, but its Editoral page displays occasional periods of balance and honesty, like this week when it went after Dodd and Conrad on Loans, and ripped Obama on his flagrant dishonesty on Campaign finance.

rhhardin said...

a “Media Hall of Shame” has been created by the National Organization for Women.

There's the remark of Wm. Kerrigan in his review of Random House Webster's College Dictionary

I return to the reviewer's packet: `` `Our entries are defined so that even the most militant feminist (whoever he or she is) cannot find fault', says Sol Steinmetz, executive editor of RHWCD. `We strive to be evenhandedly nonsexist, referring to gender only when it is truly relevant.' '' How can someone be evenhanded when trying not to offend the most militant feminist?

``The Neurotic's Dictionary'' _Raritan XI:3 p.102, Winter 1992

Meade said...

"But dammit, Times, put links in the text as you refer to things."

Come editors public
Who still use a pen
And keep your screens lit
And your keyboards plugged in
And don't type too soon
For the facts are not in
And there's no tellin' you
Who Dowd's flamin'.
You're the loser now
Cause you can't hyperlin...k
For the Times they aren't a-changin'.

Tom Crippen said...

Dowd: "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."

You say Dowd is "absolutely right"? Bullshit. She's not twisting gender stereotypes, she's applying them. I suppose the jerk in the playground who calls another boy a faggot is also "mining" stereotypes. Or the people who used to say career women were mannish.

One of the handiest uses of a nasty cultural stereotype is to stick it on someone who doesn't actually belong to the stigmatized group. It's a great way to punish difference and procure a brief thrill of superiority, which is what that twit Dowd is in business to do.

I'm amazed that adults need this explained to them.

William said...

I am a McCain supporter. I notice that he is old and that his gestures are circumscribed by age and pain. Also, he looks a little cootish when he pulls that Navy baseball cap down low over his eyes. Do these observations make me an ageist?....Maureen Dowd is the first column I read in the Times. I seldom agree with her but I enjoy watching the descent of public figures down her razor wit. The first duty of a columnist is to be read, and she fulfills that duty.... How is it possible to observe Hillary without using words like pantsuits, shrill, and cackle? There may be good reasons to vote for her, but McCain is old and she, at times, cackles.

Joe said...

The Drill Sgt hit the nail on the head. Modern news gathering as a whole has largely forgotten that there is a profound difference between reporting fact and opining on those facts. Even in the most basic story, it is no longer surprising to find some egregious commentary.

(This is true even on the local level. How many times have you read or seen a story about a car accident only to have the reporter add a comment about a seat belt law?)

LutherM said...

Public Editor Clark Hoyt wrote,"I do not think another one could have used Dowd’s language. Even she, I think, by assailing Clinton in gender-heavy terms in column after column, went over the top this election season."

The remark is dead wrong - if anything, Maureen Dowd pulled her punches with Hillary. The Hoyt remark is also sexist and reflects a pro-Clinton bias.

Joan said...

I avoid MoDo unless someone quotes a particularly amusing passage. I can't recall the last time I read an entire column. (Obviously, I have never been a Times Select subscriber.)

Formatting note: I hate the bold. It's overkill, particularly for sentences punctuated with exclamation points.

AJ Lynch said...

28 out 44 columns since Jan 1 blasted Hillary! Jeez overkill IMO.

Even opinion columnists should be scolded by the idiotors when they over-mine a topic.

Ann Althouse said...

"Even opinion columnists should be scolded by the idiotors when they over-mine a topic."

I don't think it was overmined. It was a rich lode.

Michael said...

Maureen Dowd was over the top. In other news, Garrison Keillor was folksy and Pee-Wee Herman was retro.

Beldar said...

Maureen Dowd makes a living by being spectacularly bitchy. Who knew?

The fact that the NYT pays her a salary is one reason I refuse to purchase the NYT. But their calculation is that they make more money than they lose from paying her salary and publishing her column. Free country, free market. They should glory in her status, and add a title to her byline: "Resident spectacular bitch."

(Yeah, it's a sexist term, "bitch," certainly in this context, but as she says, it's a feature, not a bug.)

ZHID said...

Who cares? I think I was the last one who gave a damn what the NY Times opinion page said, and I stopped caring about five years ago. The NY Times is to opinion these days as a hand crank is to automotive starting systems...

Peter said...

"Have the balls..."
I do not think they allow balls in the NYT building.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann :

I could agree with you. I think "Mother Load" was the name of a Dowd column where she critiqued how Hillary! looked in pantsuits. Heh.

FWII this gender stuff that Dowd churns out is naturally more interesting to women.

AST said...

I live in a Red State. Is this what passes for important in the Blue ones?

Bruce said...

Meade: Outstanding post! Loved it.