Yet again, media figures respond to a Pelosi controversy with attacks on her looks

Commenting on the controversy surrounding what Nancy Pelosi was told about the use of harsh interrogation techniques, numerous media figures have resorted to attacking Pelosi's looks, for example, by characterizing her as being incapable of “human facial expression,” referring to her “fashionable” “Botox shots,” and calling her a “hag.”

Commenting on the controversy surrounding what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was told about the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques, numerous media figures have resorted to attacking Pelosi's looks. Specifically, in the past several days, media figures have characterized Pelosi as being incapable of “human facial expression,” referred to her “fashionable” “Botox shots,” and called her a “hag.” Media Matters for America has compiled the following examples:

  • During the May 17 edition of CNN's State of the Union, CNN contributor Alex Castellanos claimed that “if Speaker Pelosi were still capable of human facial expression, we'd see she'd be embarrassed, because, right now, she is in a very Nixon-like position.”
  • In his May 17 column, Doug Giles wrote: “Either Nancy Pelosi is lying her backside off regarding her knowledge of the CIA's irrigation for information techniques, or one of the side effects of a high dollar Botox habit includes severe short-term memory loss.” Giles further wrote: “In December 2007, Mrs. Pelosi admitted that she attended the briefing, but she wouldn't comment for the record about precisely what she was told. (What do you think old Nancy is doing here? Is she Botoxing? Does she have selective amnesia? Perhaps, a senior moment? Or is she revving up the engines on her BS Express?).”
  • During the May 15 broadcast of his radio show, referring to Pelosi, Neal Boortz said he was going to talk about “how fun it is to watch that hag out there twisting in the wind.”
  • During the May 11 broadcast of his program, Rush Limbaugh said of Pelosi: “All right, all right. It wasn't a lie. It's a fashion statement. She wears Armani clothes -- fashionable; Botox shots -- fashionable. She's against waterboarding -- fashionable. Of course, after 9-11, she was for waterboarding. That was fashion then.” On May 15, Limbaugh claimed that during her May 14 press conference, Pelosi was “shaking.” He added: “Well, that could be Botox withdrawal. I don't want to be too hard on the shaking.”

Additionally, during the May 13 edition of Fox Business' Happy Hour, co-host Eric Bolling responded to criticism of his comments about Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), saying:

BOLLING: I woke up this morning, and they told me I was one of [MSNBC host] Keith Olbermann's “Worst Person in the World.” I was “worser” -- number two. [Fox News host] Greta Van Susteren, a wonderful lady, was worse. OK, here we go. Here was the problem.

This was supposed to be calling out people who wouldn't come on Happy Hour. We want them to come on Happy Hour. We'll take you. We'll take you, Timmy Geithner. We'll put you in left field this time because you're in left field. We'll take [Federal Reserve chairman Ben] Bernanke. This -- that's all this was all about. But he had a problem with me putting Barney Frank, Representative Barney Frank, as catcher.

Now, look, I come from a baseball past. We play -- listen, what am I going to do? Put Nancy Pelosi as a catcher? She'll get hurt. She's got all that plastic surgery. That would be terrible for her.

Media Matters previously documented media figures frequently resorting to attacking Pelosi's looks while discussing her. For instance:

  • On the January 26 broadcast of his program, Limbaugh claimed that if Pelosi “wants fewer births, I have the way to do this -- and it won't require any contraception: You simply put pictures of Nancy Pelosi -- like, for example, the picture that [Internet gossip Matt] Drudge has of Pelosi right now on his website. Put pictures of Pelosi in every cheap motel room in America today. That will keep birthrates down because that picture will keep a lot of things down.”
  • On the September 17, 2008, broadcast of his Minneapolis radio show, discussing Pelosi's reported response of “No” when asked whether “Democrats bear some of the responsibility regarding the current crisis on Wall Street,” Chris Baker stated: “Yesterday, they ask her, 'Do Democrats have any responsibility here?' And what does she say? 'No.' Another reason why it's very rare to find a woman worthy of serving in political office.” Moments before, Baker had said of Pelosi, “Get another facelift, lady.”
  • On the June 30, 2008, edition of his radio program, Michael Savage said of Pelosi: “It's Mussolini at work -- Mussolini in a skirt with bad rouge; Mussolini if he came back and wore ugly clothing and put on bad makeup and had too much Botox. He would be calling for the Fairness Doctrine, assuming he would still own the winery and the bad restaurant chain.” Savage previously referred to Pelosi, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as "yentas." He later asked his “board operator” if he would rather “be waterboarded for 30 seconds or eat Jane Harman's ravioli” and whether he'd rather “be waterboarded or eat Nancy Pelosi's tortellini.”
  • During the August 16, 2007, edition of MSNBC's Hardball, radio host Mark Williams referred to Pelosi as “Nancy Botox.”
  • During the October 31, 2006, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Republican pollster Frank Luntz said of Pelosi: “I always use the line for Nancy Pelosi, 'You get one shot at a facelift. If it doesn't work the first time, let it go.' ”