New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd claimed that while "sexism does swirl around" Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, her "campaign cries sexism too often." Dowd has a long history of sexist attacks on Clinton, including writing three weeks ago that the former secretary of state ran "as a man" in 2008 but "is now running as a woman."
Dowd wrote in her February 6 column (emphasis added):
Hillary is like a veteran actor who doesn't audition well. Bill could tell her not to shout her way through rallies, that it doesn't convey passion but just seems forced, adding to her authenticity problem. Her allies think mentioning her shouting is sexist, and sexism does swirl around Hillary, but her campaign cries sexism too often. In 2008, Barack Obama used race sparingly.
Clinton faced rampant sexism from the press during her 2008 campaign, a pattern that re-emerged during the first week of February when a series of pundits attacked her "shrieking" tone of voice during a speech.
With Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton facing a barrage of criticisms over the tone of her voice during a recent speech, Media Matters looks back at the rampant sexism she faced from the media during her 2008 presidential bid.
Right-wing media pundits attacked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for celebrating her victory in the Iowa Caucus, claiming her tone during her speech was "unpleasant," "angry, bitter, screaming," and suggested that Clinton "may be hard of hearing." Criticism of Hillary Clinton's speech echoes a larger, sexist right-wing media campaign to denigrate Clinton's voice, mannerisms and public appearances.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd suggested that Hillary Clinton "should have run as a man this time" and likened Clinton to a dog in in her latest negative assessment of the Democratic presidential candidate.
Dowd has a decades-long history of attacking Clinton, often invoking bizarre comparisons in her criticism. According to a recent Media Matters analysis of Dowd's columns on Clinton dating back to 1993, 75 percent of 212 columns that made significant mention of Clinton were negative. Since June 2014, all 17 of Dowd's columns that mention Clinton significantly were negative. Dowd's first 2016 column on Clinton compared her to Leonardo DiCaprio's character from the movie The Revenant, which is about a revenge-minded trapper making his way through the wilderness.
In a January 16 column for The New York Times, Dowd claimed that Clinton ran "as a man" in 2008 but "is now running as a woman."
Based on her apparent belief that Clinton's 2016 campaign is overly feminized, Dowd wrote, "she should have run as a man this time, when Americans feel beleaguered and scared and yearn for something 'big and masculine and strong.'"
Instead Dowd claimed that Clinton "has cast herself as Groundbreaking Granny."
In a later section in her column, Dowd wrote, "It may be more relevant to ask if someone is a cat or a dog," as opposed to a man or a woman.
While comparing President Obama to a cat, Dowd likened Clinton, along with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, to a dog:
Both Hillary and Trump have been emphasizing that they will do a lot more schmoozing with lawmakers and others who disagree with them, vowing to be dogs with a bone, eager canines offering paws, and not a cool cat stalking away at the first sign of difficulty or when affection is most desired.
Dowd previously accused Clinton of "acting like a masculine woman" during the 2008 campaign and her call for Clinton to now "run as a man this time" comes after Dowd has accused Clinton of betraying feminism more than three dozen times.
According to Media Matters' January 13 study, dating back to November 1993, Dowd has made significant mention of Hillary Clinton in 212 columns:
With her first column of 2016, The New York Times' Maureen Dowd returned to her decades-long crusade attacking Hillary Clinton. Dowd has increased her vitriol towards Hillary Clinton in her New York Times columns since Media Matters first analyzed her body of work over a year-and-a-half ago.
As we reported, 72 percent of the 195 columns Dowd wrote from November 1993 to June 2014 with significant mentions of Clinton were negative. All 17 columns with significant mentions of Clinton that have been published since the first report were negative.
Dowd's first column of 2016 compares Hillary Clinton to Leonardo DiCaprio's character from the movie The Revenant, which is about a revenge-minded trapper making his way through the wilderness. In a now-famous scene, DiCaprio's character is mauled by a bear.
And finally, of course, there's the politician most like Glass in her willingness to crawl through glass, flip her positions and persona, and even bear up under a mauling by a merciless, manic bear to reach that goal most yearned for. In Hillary Clinton's grimly relentless trudge toward the White House, the part of the bear is played by Donald Trump.
Dowd continues the column by accusing Clinton of being a hypocritical feminist scheming for power.
This latest column follows Dowd's script for Hillary Clinton, which she's been using for decades. In eleven of the newer columns added to this study, Dowd characterized Clinton as being power-hungry, while in fourteen of them she argued that Clinton is a phony (accusing her, for instance, of "acting like a masculine woman" in the 2008 election). Dowd also returned to presenting herself as an expert on the Clinton marriage in two of her recent columns, with claims like "[Clinton] has spent a lifetime cleaning up messes sparked by her overweening desire for control and her often out-of-control mate."
Including the past eighteen months of data, dating back to November 1993, Dowd has made significant mention of Hillary Clinton in 212 columns:
Dowd's Clinton bashing is so repetitive that she appears to occasionally recycle column headlines. In July of 2002, Dowd's column was headlined "Hooray for Hillarywood!" and then thirteen years later the exact same phrase was back, this time asking "Hooray for Hillarywood?"
The same themes are being recycled as well. Dowd has leaned on movies to an almost absurd rate in order to prop up attacks on Clinton. In the past, she called Clinton "the senator from Stepford," for example, and quoted an anonymous aide calling her "The Terminator."
In May of 2015, Dowd was back at the movie well:
Hillary Clinton's campaign has echoes of various classic movies: "Single White Female," with Hillary creepily co-opting the identity of the more trendy Elizabeth Warren; "My Fair Lady," with Hillary sitting meekly and being schooled on how to behave by tyrannical Pygmalions (Iowa voters); "The Usual Suspects," with Hillary's hoodlums, Sidney Blumenthal and David Brock, vying to be Keyser Söze; and, of course, "How to Steal a Million," a caper about a heist plotted by a couple that doesn't need the money.
Dowd even wrote a piece comparing the former secretary of state to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady was embroiled in the "deflategate" controversy where it was alleged he had a role in tampering with footballs used during a playoff game.
In her column, Dowd found a way to connect the athlete with the former secretary of state:
Two controlling superstars with mutable hair and militant fans, married to two magnetic superstars who can make a gazillion an hour for flashing their faces and who have been known to stir up trouble.
A pair of team captains craving a championship doing something surreptitious that they never needed to do to win.
It turns out Tom Brady and Hillary Clinton have more in common than you would think.
The comparison doesn't make a lot of sense, but it fits right in with Dowd's bizarre rhetoric over the last two decades when it comes to Clinton.
Media Matters used the Nexis database to search The New York Times archives for "hillary and clinton and BYLINE(Maureen Dowd) and Editorial Desk." We also used the Times website to identify Dowd pieces that mentioned Clinton from the Week In Review and Magazine sections prior to Dowd's 1995 move to the editorial desk. We reviewed those columns, coding ones that included any substantive discussion of Hillary Clinton for whether Dowd invoked any of 16 negative tropes in five categories.
Those variables were:
Plotting For Power
o Hillary is inflexible/uncompromising
o Hillary has a bunker mentality, will not listen to detractors
o Hillary acts tough
o Hillary is always scheming for more power
Betrayed Feminism And Played The Victim
o Hillary is bad for feminism
o Hillary traded on slights from men to get ahead
o Hillary fakes her feminism
People Don't Like Her, She's Not A Nice Person
o Hillary is mean
o Hillary is not likeable
o Hillary is cold and unemotional
She's A Phony
o Hillary doesn't know who she is
o Hillary has no 'real' identity
o Hillary doesn't believe what she says
o Hillary is scripted and prepackaged and poll-driven
Targeting The Clintons As A Couple
o The Clintons won't go away, even though everyone wants them to
o Their marriage is a sham, a trade of power for more power
Multiple media figures derided Hillary Clinton's laugh during the first Democratic presidential debate, calling it a "cackle" and "a record scratch." During the 2008 presidential race, Clinton's laughter was repeatedly attacked, despite criticism that such attacks were rooted in sexism.
During the October 13 CNN debate in Las Vegas, Clinton laughed after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders defended her from repeated questions about her use of private email by criticizing the media for fixating on the issue and saying, "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!" Clinton and Sanders shook hands as the crowd applauded.
But several media figures initially focused on Clinton's laugh. BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski tweeted, "oh god the Clinton laugh is out," while the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "THE CLINTON LAUGH," and Fox's Sean Hannity tweeted "Omg that laugh."
Several conservative media figures took it further, calling it a "cackle":
::looks up 'cackle' in the dictionary:: ::sees Hillary's face::-- Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) October 14, 2015
(Hillary's laugh grates like a record scratch.)-- Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) October 14, 2015
The cackle. Drink!-- Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) October 14, 2015
Cue the cackle. #DemDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) October 14, 2015
Attacking Clinton's laughter was a common theme during the Democratic primary before the 2008 election. In September 2007, after Clinton appeared on several Sunday political talk shows and laughed in response to some questions, media figures spent weeks debating and mocking her laughter. Fox News led the charge, with Bill O'Reilly even discussing Clinton's laughter with a "body language expert" who deemed it "evil," and Sean Hannity calling the laugh "frightening."
The mainstream press picked up on the attacks on Clinton's laugh, with New York Times political reporter Patrick Healy writing an article with the headline "Laughing Matters in Clinton Campaign," in which he described Clinton's "hearty belly laugh" as "The Cackle," calling it "heavily caffeinated" and suggesting it may have been "programmed."
Then-Politico reporter Ben Smith also described Clinton's laugh as her "signature cackle," while Politico correspondent Mike Allen and editor-in-chief John F. Harris wrote that Clinton's laugh "sounded like it was programmed by computer."
And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who has a long history of nasty attacks on Clinton, claimed Clinton's laugh was allowing her to look less like a "hellish housewife" and a "nag" and more like a "wag":
As Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, once told me: "She's never going to get out of our faces. ... She's like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won't stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone."
That's why Hillary is laughing a lot now, big belly laughs, in response to tough questions or comments, to soften her image as she confidently knocks her male opponents out of the way. From nag to wag.
The list goes on: MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, then-MSNBC host David Shuster, then-MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, radio host Mike Rosen, Dick Morris, the Drudge Report, The Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi, Time magazine's Joe Klein, the New York Times' Frank Rich, CNN's Jeanne Moos, and others all debated or derided Clinton's laughter during Clinton's first run for president.
Politico's Allen said on MSNBC during all of this that "'cackle' is a very sexist term," and disputed MSNBC's Chris Matthews' use of it in reference to Clinton. Other outlets agreed; Jezebel called out Matthews for his "cackle" criticism and other derisive remarks, asking, "can we agree that no matter what your political allegiances, this is not the way you speak of a woman -- whether she is a senator or not?" Rachel Sklar, writing in the Huffington Post, said at the time "I keep finding sexist Hillary Clinton bashing everywhere I turn," noting that criticisms of the candidate's laughter "turn completely on the fact that she's a woman. 'The Cackle?' So would never be applied to a man. We all know it."
Unfortunately, the criticism hasn't stopped in the intervening seven years. The Washington Free Beacon has a "Hillary Laugh Button" permanently on its site. The National Journal published in June 2014, many months prior to Clinton declaring her second bid for president, a "Comprehensive Supercut of Hillary Clinton Laughing Awkwardly With Reporters." And conservative tweet-aggregator Twitchy in August mocked "scary as hell" pens which featured "Clinton's cackling head."
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd did him "a big favor" by featuring him in a recent column.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trump described Dowd as a "great person" who has "written a lot about me over the years." He added that Dowd "understands that I adore women."
Dowd featured Trump in her August 8 and August 15 columns, as well as an online article detailing the candidate's thoughts on a variety of topics, from Iraq to Bill Clinton.
On August 8, Dowd described Trump as "the gleefully offensive and immensely entertaining high-chair king in the Great American Food Fight." She also wrote, "I enjoy Trump's hyperbolic, un-P.C. flights because there are too few operatic characters in the world."
In her August 15 column, an interview with Trump, she wrote, "The billionaire braggart known for saying unfiltered things is trying to be diplomatic. Sort of."
Trump also gave The Hollywood Reporter his thoughts on other media figures.
Trump said he and Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch "have been friendly," noting that "he had some very evil tweets, and now they've been nice lately."
Trump still apparently has issues with Megyn Kelly's debate question about his past sexist comments, noting, "I don't understand how [Fox News chairman and CEO] Roger [Ailes] could have allowed that first question to be asked."
He said Ailes "is certainly very impressed with my poll numbers" and that "when he looked at the ratings, what happened to the ratings at Fox, I think that makes him think about it even from a financial standpoint." Trump described his relationship with Ailes as "great," claiming he had lunch with him "three weeks ago."
Trump called Internet gossipmonger Matt Drudge a "legend" and "an amazing guy" who has "been so fair to me."
The New York Times' Maureen Dowd's latest tired attack on Hillary Clinton involves a lengthy comparison of the Democratic presidential candidate to disgraced New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Dowd spent nearly half of her August 1 column spearing Clinton with dubious pseudo-scandals and comparisons to quarterback Tom Brady, recently suspended from four NFL games for his role in the use of deflated footballs in January's AFC championship game. "It turns out Tom Brady and Hillary Clinton have more in common than you would think," Dowd claimed, calling the two "[a] pair of team captains craving a championship doing something surreptitious that they never needed to do to win." She went on:
Brady had his assistant terminate his Samsung phone the day before he talked to an investigator about Deflategate. Hillary set up a home-brew private server, overruling the concerns of her husband's aides, and erased 30,000 emails before the government had a chance to review them to see if any were classified.
Brady and Hillary, wanting to win at all costs and believing the rules don't apply to them, are willing to take the hit of people not believing them, calculating that there is no absolute proof.
They both have a history of subterfuge -- Brady and the Patriots with Spygate, Hillary with all her disappearing and appearing records.
In stretching to link Clinton to Brady, Dowd echoes right-wing media pundits desperate to spin any news into an attack on the leading Democratic presidential candidate. Such attacks are old territory for Dowd. For more than 20 years, Dowd has been attempting to smear Clinton by any means necessary, even stooping to pushing sexist tropes and taunting nicknames. According to a Media Matters analysis of 195 of Dowd's columns written during her tenure at the Times, more than 70 percent painted Clinton in a negative light.
The raucous political warfare of the 1990s returned into view late last week with the stunning news that former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is under indictment for allegedly agreeing to pay more than $3 million in hush money to cover up sexual abuse involving a male student at a high school where Hastert taught decades ago.
Hastert's unsettling case doesn't have anything to do with partisan politics, per se. But his rise to the speakership back in 1998 sure did. Like virtually everything else inside the Beltway at the time, Hastert's promotion revolved around the Republicans' relentless impeachment pursuit against President Bill Clinton. And today, Hastert's alleged crime once again throws into focus what a strange and hypocritical spectacle it was for GOP men to play sex cop and crusade for impeachment.
The impeachment of Bill Clinton defined American politics in the 1990s. It also defined the Beltway press, which still clings to many of the bad Clinton-related habits it formed that decade. The impeachment farce, where the press teamed up with Republicans to wage war on a Democrat, could also explain why the Clintons today might not fully trust the media as Hillary Clinton expands her presidential run and the press stands "primed" to take her down.
Why won't Hillary Clinton open up to the press? Why can't Bill and Hillary handle the media? Why has she "withdrawn into a gilded shell"? Why does she wear media "armor"? Those questions have been rehashed in recent months as journalists focus on themselves and what role they'll play in the unfolding nomination contest.
A suggestion: Follow the path back to Dennis Hastert's impeachment era for clues to those Clinton press questions.
During the 1990s, Hastert remained a firm advocate of impeachment, at one point condemning the president for his "inability to abide by the law." Hastert stressed, "The evidence in President Clinton's case is overwhelming that he has abused and violated the public trust."
Of course it was the impeachment imbroglio that elevated Hastert, indirectly, to his lofty position of speaker of the House; a position he later leveraged into millions by becoming a very wealthy lobbyist.
The background: Former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich was forced to resign in 1998 after the impeachment-obsessed GOP faced disastrous midterm losses. (Gingrich later admitted he was engaged in an affair with a Congressional aide at the time.) Up next was Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee. "One of the loudest of those calling for the House to impeach Clinton over an extra-marital affair," noted the National Journal, Livingston was soon ousted after he was forced to publicly confess to committing adultery "on occasion."
Into that void stepped Hastert.
That means all three Republican House leaders who pursued Clinton's impeachment have now confessed or been accused of sexual and moral transgressions themselves. Those were the people the D.C press took its cues from during the impeachment charade?
As Orin Kerr noted in the Washington Post following the Hastert indictment:
If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy.
While some in the press have conceded that the '90s impeachment was a strange circus, the truth is the Beltway press basically served as executive producers for the GOP's doomed theatrical run. It was the media elite who legitimized for years the right-wing's Javert-like pursuit of all things Clinton. "So much of the media was invested in breathless, often uncritical coverage of Clinton's impeachment," wrote Josh Marshall at Salon in 2002, while detailing the final release of the independent prosecutor's $70 million Clinton investigation.
Put another way, the same D.C. press corps that openly taunted the Clintons for years in the '90s, culminating with impeachment, is the same D.C. press corps that's now openly taunting them, for instance, regarding the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton's emails, and anything/everything else that can be presented as a Clinton "scandal" story.
That's why when the New York Times story about Hillary Clinton's email account first broke in March, "The media and politicos and Twitterati immediately responded with all the measured cautious skepticism we've come to expect in response to any implication of a Clinton Scandal," noted Wonkette. "That is to say, none." And that's why Times columnist and chief Clinton sex chronicler Maureen Dowd has, to date, published 100 columns mentioning "Lewinsky."
More than twenty years ago, the Clintons understood that the so-called liberal media was working with conservative activists and Republican prosecutors to try to destroy Bill's presidency. For the GOP, the motivation was purely partisan. For the press, it seemed to be a mix of careerism (Clinton bashing proved to be good for business), combined with a genuine dislike of the Clintons.
Today, it's often difficult to recapture just how completely bonkers the D.C. media establishment went during the impeachment saga, and how on some days it seemed journalists were more pruriently obsessed with the Clintons than their tireless Republican tormentors. The recent Hastert sexual abuse allegation helps bring into focus the absurdity of the era, and reminds us why, as a new campaign season unfolds, the Clintons might not fully trust the Beltway media.
From the April 21 edition of MSNBC's NOW with Alex Wagner:
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The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd advised Hillary Clinton "how to campaign as a woman," using a series of sexist tropes in line with her more than 20 years of gendered attacks on the former secretary of state.
In an April 19 op-ed for The New York Times, Maureen Dowd wrote that Hillary Clinton is a "granny" who "can't figure out how to campaign as a woman" after she "scrubbed out the femininity, vulnerability, and heart" required to do so during her 2008 presidential run. Claiming Clinton is now trying to shift her image after she "saw the foolishness of acting like a masculine woman," Dowd asserted that the candidate "always overcorrects," and is now "basking in estrogen." Dowd concluded, saying hopefully Clinton will "teach her Republican rivals...that bitch is still the new black" instead :
Hillary always overcorrects. Now she has zagged too far in the opposite direction, presenting herself as a sweet, docile granny in a Scooby van, so self-effacing she made only a cameo in her own gauzy, demographically pandering presidential campaign announcement video and mentioned no issues on her campaign's website.
In her Iowa round tables, she acted as though she were following dating tips from 1950s advice columnists to women trying to "trap" a husband: listen a lot, nod a lot, widen your eyes, and act fascinated with everything that's said. A clip posted on her campaign Facebook page showed her sharing the story of the day her granddaughter was born with some Iowa voters, basking in estrogen as she emoted about the need for longer paid leave for new mothers: "You've got to bond with your baby. You've got to learn how to take care of the baby."
Let's hope that the hokey Chipotle Granny will give way to the cool Tumblr Chick in time to teach her Republican rivals -- who are coming after her with every condescending, misogynist, distorted thing they've got -- that bitch is still the new black.
Dowd's advice for Hillary Clinton relied on the same kind of sexist tropes the columnist has spent more than twenty years using to attack the former secretary of state. According to a Media Matters analysis of 195 of Dowd's columns written during her tenure at the Times, 72 percent painted Clinton in a negative light. In those columns, Dowd repeatedly accused Clinton of being an enemy to or betraying feminism (35 columns, 18 percent of those studied), power-hungry (51 columns, 26 percent), unlikeable (9 columns, 5 percent), or phony (34 columns, 17 percent).
And in the 2008 elections, Dowd consistently used gendered criticism to mock Hillary Clinton and her other Democratic rivals. A Media Matters review of Dowd's columns between 2007 and 2008 found she repeatedly employed gendered critiques of Clinton, referring to her as masculine and domineering, calling her "mommie dearest," the "debate dominatrix" and "Mistress Hillary."
Maureen Dowd's latest column attacking Hillary Clinton with comparisons to former President Richard Nixon echoes attacks from the Republican National Committee (RNC).
In a New York Times op-ed on April 11, Dowd predicted that Clinton's presidential campaign will "take the Nixon approach" by "trying to charm people one by one in the early states for 2016, an acknowledgement that she cannot emulate the wholesale allure of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama."
Dowd's Nixon comparison has been made before, repeatedly, as part of the RNC's "Stop Hillary" campaign. As the Washington Post noted on April 11, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus "habitually describes Clinton as a cold, Nixonian liberal millionaire."
Priebus made the comparison in March when discussing Clinton's email use while serving as secretary of state, saying "even Nixon didn't destroy the tapes" (an implication that the deleted personal emails on Clinton's private server were equivalent to Nixon's involvement in the Watergate conspiracy).
Conservative media figures followed his lead, and the Nixon comparison found its way onto a variety of Fox News programming, into the pages of National Review, and even into the mouth of conservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on the March 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press.
Dowd has now followed suit. The columnist has been attacking Clinton on often personal terms repeatedly for more than twenty years. She's accused Clinton of being power-hungry, unlikeable, phony, and an enemy of feminism, among other attacks. Now it appears she's looking to the Republican Party for new inspiration.
Typing up her latest scornful, fill-in-the-blank sermon about Hillary Clinton -- the kind Maureen Dowd has been churning out robotically for two decades (only the "scandal" topic changes) -- the New York Times columnist actually began her latest missive by likening the Clintons to the Iranian regime. A few paragraphs later, Dowd had managed to segue to perhaps her favorite topic: Bill Clinton's distant sex life. In fact, the March 14 column became Dowd's 100th that contained a "Lewinsky" reference, according to a review of Dowd's columns in the Nexis database.
Dowd's fixation may be something of an outlier at the Times. Who else would reference an extramarital affair in one hundred different columns? But Dowd clearly does represent the Times' larger, institutional and never-ending personal antagonism toward Bill and Hillary Clinton. It's been a Times-sponsored grudge match that goes back more than two decades. (Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. once told Clinton the paper had adopted a "tough love" policy towards his presidency. "I've seen the tough," Clinton quipped. "Where's the love?") And now that enmity has been awakened for the recent Hillary Clinton email saga.
Has that contempt fueled the Times' often sloppy coverage lately? "The real controversy isn't about politics or regulations," wrote Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek, offering up a detailed critique of the Times' email reporting. "It's about journalism and the weak standards employed to manufacture the scandal du jour."
For instance, note that in its March 2 report about Clinton's emails, the one that ignited the so-called scandal, The New York Times suggested Clinton "may have violated federal requirements" through her use of a non-government email address while serving as secretary of state." It was that hint of criminality that first gave the story so much pop in the press.
But it turns out that hint of criminality was invented by the Times newsroom, as several news outlets have since confirmed that Clinton did nothing illegal with her email account. (Ten days later, the Times got around to making that point itself.)
And that's the pattern we've seen unfold for twenty-plus years at the Times. With the bogus pursuits of Whitewater, the Loral spy satellites story, would-be spy Wen Ho Lee, and now Hillary Clinton's emails, the Times uncorks supposedly blockbuster allegations against a Clinton that are based on vague reporting that later turns out to be flimsy, but not before the rest of the Beltway media erupts in a guttural roar (led by sanctimonious Times columnists), and not before Republicans launch investigations intended to destroy the Clintons politically.
Last week, the Times' Patrick Healy wrote that the news media is emerging as Hillary Clinton's toughest political opponent. Indeed, the Times, once again, remains at the front of the charge.
Buzzfeed reported that the emails, released after a hacker group broke in to Sony's computer systems, detailed a series of exchanges between Dowd, Pascal, and Pascal's husband Bernard Weinraub, a former Times reporter, for a March 2014 column Dowd was writing about the declining percentage of women in the film industry.
The emails show Dowd promising Pascal she "would make sure you look great" and Weinraub warning Pascal not to tell anyone that he was "seeing the column before its printed." From Buzzfeed:
But the leaked documents show that when Dowd emailed Pascal on March 3 for the column -- which would run online the next night and in print on March 5 -- Dowd told Pascal "i would make sure you look great and we'd check it all and do it properly."
Before Pascal actually interviewed with Dowd for the column, she talked to Weinraub.
"I said the rap that you jus like to make womens films is unfair amnd sexist," Weinraub said in an email to Pascal on March 4. "You made all these "women's movies ===league of their own, 28 days,,,the nora Ephron films...zero dark.... but you also do spifderman... denzel....Jonah hill.....bad teacher etc etc."
Pascal responded, "IM NOT TALKING TO HER IF SHE IS GONNA SLAM ME. PLEASE FIND OUT."
Weinraub assured her, "you cant tell single person that I'm seeing the column before its printed...its not done...no p.r. people or Lynton or anyone should know."
After the column was published later that night, Pascal emailed Dowd, saying "I THOUGHT THE STORY WAS GREAT I HOPE YOUR HAPPY "
Dowd responded: "I hope you're happy! Thanks for helping. Let's do another." Pascal replied, "Your my favorite person so yes" and Dowd finished the conversation with "you're mine! you're amazing"
Dowd denied that she had given anyone an advance look at her column in a statement released to several reporters, as Politico reported:
In an email though, Dowd says she "never showed Bernie the column in advance or promised to show it."
"Bernie is an old friend and the Times' former Hollywood reporter, and he sometimes gives me ideas for entertainment columns. In January, he suggested a column, inspired by a study cited in the L.A. Times, about the state of women in Hollywood. Amy is a friend and I reassured her before our interview that it wasn't an antagonistic piece. She wasn't the focus of the story, nor was Sony," Dowd said. "I emailed with Bernie and talked to him before I wrote the column in March, getting his perspective on the Hollywood old boys' club and the progress of women. But I didn't send him the column beforehand."
UPDATE: In an August 13 blog post, New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal praised Maureen Dowd for the "masterful" analysis in her latest column of a recent Hillary Clinton interview. He did not address the criticism of that column.
Maureen Dowd's long descent into anti-Clinton self-parody hit a new low last night when she managed to transition from discussing the death of Robin Williams to an attack on Hillary Clinton.
In her August 12 column following the news that Williams died in an apparent suicide, Dowd opened by recounting an interview she once conducted with the comedian, before abruptly transitioning into an attack on Hillary Clinton (emphasis added):
As our interview ended, I was telling him about my friend Michael Kelly's idea for a 1-900 number, not one to call Asian beauties or Swedish babes, but where you'd have an amorous chat with a repressed Irish woman. Williams delightedly riffed on the caricature, playing the role of an older Irish woman answering the sex line in a brusque brogue, ordering a horny caller to go to the devil with his impure thoughts and disgusting desire.
I couldn't wait to play the tape for Kelly, who doubled over in laughter.
So when I think of Williams, I think of Kelly. And when I think of Kelly, I think of Hillary, because Michael was the first American reporter to die in the Iraq invasion, and Hillary Clinton was one of the 29 Democratic senators who voted to authorize that baloney war.
Dowd's bizarre segue was immediately greeted with widespread ridicule from both conservatives and liberals.
Conservative website Twitchy -- which Media Matters agrees with very seldomly -- asked, "How does that make any sense whatsoever?" The site also highlighted criticism from numerous pundits, including NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, who wondered whether "the New York Times is too embarrassed to edit Maureen Dowd anymore"; Bay Area News Group editor Daniel Jimenez, who called the column "stupefyingly embarrassing" and posited that Dowd was "destroying" the Times' brand; and Forbes contributor Tom Watson, who said the Times should "be ashamed."
Fox News contributor Mary Katharine Ham, writing for conservative site Hot Air, called Dowd's transition from Williams to Clinton "the most graceless, tacky, incoherent segue in recent memory." Referencing Dowd's ill-fated experiment with edible marijuana, Washington Examiner senior writer Philip Klein wrote, "From now on, I'm just gonna assume that Maureen Dowd writes all her columns from a Denver hotel room." (Examiner colleague Tim Carney replied, "I literally assumed there was an editing error.")
Several critics noted Dowd's tendency to turn any news event into an attack on the Clintons. Wonkette's Rebecca Schoenkopf called the piece "as glowing an example of Maureen Dowd's Hillary vendetta as any we've seen yet," while Mother Jones' Kevin Drum asked, "I wonder if there's anything left in the world that doesn't remind Dowd of Hillary Clinton?"
The answer is no. Dowd's bizarre obsession with Hillary Clinton dates back more than two decades, during which she has attacked the former secretary of state and first lady in at least 141 columns. A Media Matters analysis of Dowd's work since 1993 found that the columnist has repeatedly used popular culture references to attack Clinton, managing to link her to everything from the movie The Stepford Wives to a Picasso painting.