Maureen Dowd Starts 2016 With Return To Anti-Clinton Crusade

Dowd's Last 17 Clinton Columns Have Been Negative


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:

  • 159 columns (75%) were negative
  • 53 columns (25%) were neutral or positive
  • 61 columns (29%) have accused Clinton of being power hungry
  • 37 columns (17%) accused Clinton of betraying feminism
  • 15 columns (7%) said Clinton was not likeable
  • 47 columns (22%) characterized Clinton as a phony
  • 44 columns (21%) performed psychoanalysis of the Clinton marriage

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.

In the past 18 months, Dowd has also compared Clinton to an "annoyed queen," and asked Clinton if she could campaign as “something between Macho Man and Humble Granny.”

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