The Times reports why Christine Quinn lost!


Nobody cares about issues: Yesterday, Gail Collins tried to explain why Bill de Blasio rolled to victory in this week’s mayoral primary.

As we noted yesterday, she said de Blasio won because of race—because one of his TV ads generated an “urban feel-good moment.” You see, de Blasio's wife is black. And in the TV ad in question, the whole family seemed very happy!

Like Collins, we don’t know why de Blasio won. It wouldn’t be easy to answer that question, since it involves the votes of many New Yorkers.

That said, we were struck by how little Collins seemed to care about the policy issues involved in the campaign. We had a similar reaction to the lengthy analysis piece in which Jodi Kantor and Kate Taylor tried to explain why Christine Quinn lost.

Right off the bat, we were struck by the banner headline on the large, sprawling piece. This was the headline in our hard-copy Times:

“Questions About How Big a Role Gender and Sexuality Played in Quinn’s Loss.”

Gender and sexuality might have played important roles in this race—although, to be perfectly honest, the reporters didn’t turn up much information. For the most part, they offered anecdotal accounts and complaints which added up to very little.

Still, we were struck by their focus. We wondered—could we imagine banner headlines like these in the New York Times?

“Questions About How Big a Role Stop and Frisk Played in Quinn’s Loss.”
“Questions About How Big a Role Early Childhood Education Played in Quinn’s Loss.”

It was hard to imagine those headlines. Those articles didn’t appear.

In truth, the Times did little reporting in the last few months about the issues of this campaign. The paper obsessed on Anthony Weiner’s sexual problems while showing little interest in much of anything else.

Yesterday, Collins discussed a feel-good moment concerning de Blasio's family; Kantor and Taylor speculated about sexuality and gender. In truth, these are the types of things which interest the New York Times. To judge from its emphasis and focus, the Times doesn’t care about the issues which got discussed in de Blasio's ad, the ad which made Collins feel good because his family seemed happy.

It isn’t Kantor and Taylor’s fault that they received this assignment. The questions they raised are perfectly valid, although they came up with little real information.

But land o Goshen, some of the glimpses they offered from within the Quinn campaign! Welcome to the cultural frameworks surrounding the upper-class Times:
KANTOR AND TAYLOR (9/121/3): Critiques of Ms. Quinn’s physical attributes came from many corners, even the wealthy Upper East Side women who helped raise money for her mayoral bid. “Why can’t she dress better?’” they would ask Rachel Lavine, a Democratic state committeewoman who was on Ms. Quinn’s finance committee.

“I might think that St. John is not the end all and be all of fashion,” Ms. Lavine said, referring to the upscale clothing line favored by wealthy, older women. “But that’s what they’re saying. ‘Why isn’t she wearing a size two St. John’s dress?’ There’s that kind of constant commentary.”
Remember—those were the people supporting Quinn. And this is part of the cultural framework which spills from the upper-class Times.

In fairness, Kantor and Taylor sounded somewhat clueless on their own at times. Who is betraying a hopelessly upper-class outlook now?
KANTOR AND TAYLOR: [Quinn’s] fall from front-runner status to a distant third place finish in the Democratic primary is now stirring intense debate about whether her femaleness, or her homosexuality, played any role in her struggle to win over voters.

Exit polls showed no gender gap in the results and indicated that Ms. Quinn lost for a number of reasons—her close association with the plutocratic incumbent mayor, her rivals’ ability to outmaneuver her on the issue of stop-and-frisk policing, and her inability to be a change candidate in an election in which voters sought new direction.

Still, her supporters wonder: Why has New York, home of tough, talented women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Wintour, proven resistant to female candidates? And was it simply too much to expect the electorate to embrace a candidate who would be not just New York’s first female mayor, but its first openly gay one, too?
According to that middle paragraph, it sounds like de Blasio won because of the desire to move away from plutocrat approaches. Kantor and Taylor moved quickly past that, saying Quinn's supporters had other things on their minds.

Wintour is editor in chief of Vogue. She was all over yesterday’s Times, mainly in the highly foppish Thursday Styles section.

But good lord! Who could be so clueless as to ask why the city where Wintour lives could “prove resistant to female candidates,” if that is really what happened? Granted, Kantor and Taylor attribute that question to Quinn’s supporters. But they were willing to type it up as if it made perfect sense.

Collins talked about race, but only concerning that “feel-good moment.” Kantor and Taylor's analysis piece went on and on about sexuality and gender. Increasingly, this is the stuff of press corps discourse, and not just in the upper-class Times. We were struck by this statement by Gloria Steinem:
KANTOR AND TAYLOR: [T]rue to the concerns of the women who met with Ms. Quinn in July, some allies thought the campaign could have handled the tricky matter of being a woman candidate with more finesse.

Gloria Steinem said in an interview that Mr. de Blasio effectively “took over the language of gender” in the race with his proposal to expand preschool programs with a tax increase. (The proposal was widely seen as impractical but politically effective.)

Even though Ms. Quinn passed a Council bill to provide paid sick leave, she stalled action on the measure for so long that she was widely viewed as an opponent, which hurt her credibility as a fighter for women.
In this account, de Blasio didn’t make a proposal which many voters favored. Instead, he “took over the language of gender,” aside from which nothing exists. (Steinem may have said a great deal beyond the remark which was quoted.)

Reading this piece after reading Collins, we were struck by the lack of interest in the lives of average people. The Times likes to talk about race and sex, not about people in Queens who might yearn for preschool programs because that would help them with their everyday lives, not because it helps them figure who’s saying what about gender.

Not about people in Manhattan who may think that preschool programs would create a better society.

Why did people vote as they did? Without any question, gender and sexuality might be involved, though Kantor and Taylor offered little real information.

But the Times likes to talk about sexuality and race. Does it like to talk about preschool programs for low-income children?

People! Possibly not quite so much! Collins blew right past that crap. On assignment, so did Kantor and Taylor.


  1. Yes, the aristocrats are certainly having a lot of trouble understanding us peasants these days.

  2. OMB (Missing the obvious Edition)

    Nobody seems to give a rats aspic why Quinn lost in Bobfan world, so I will try and give his commentary thread a little nudge.

    For somebody who claims civilization is either ending or paralyzed due to the vast influence of the ladies populating the Op-Ed page of the Times, BOB spends way to much time on Collins and not enough on DOWD!

    Issues? Nobody discussed issues, so the people---the slobs who don't know squat from Squadooshy-doodle-doo, according to BOB--- they must have reacted to the press. No lady reporters at the NYTimes will go where BOB should have dared to go. Straight to the DOWDIAN Dump (not to be confused with the Colbert Bump, something created by an overpaid cable comedy hack).

    Quinn was firmly ahead in this race until early August, when the color of her toenails was revealed by Dowd in a major Sunday feature. She immediately began to crater.
    Her collapse was cinched in late August, when Dowd attemted to trash deBlasio and wife, thus alerting clueless voters to deBlaisio's racial preferences and,
    at the same time negating any advantage Quinn had by being married to a lesbian. deBlasio's lead jumpted to double digits and it was all over but the counting.

    Check the numbers if you doubt the great and magnificent
    Zarkon. Real Clear Politics has a nice chart of the polls.

    KZ (Pud Pulling Poll Pusher)

    1. You miss the bigger picture, oh mighty emperor.

      It has long been verboten and in very bad form in Bobfan World to bring up race. It is now verboten and in very bad form to discuss sexuality and gender as well.

    2. It is only bad form when using R,S&G as liberal ordinance in verbal or literary combat with other tribes. Clearly one can discuss R for example, when mentioning was the children at the one True Liberal Channel
      (TLC) don't mention, for example.

      Beside that, nothing is verboten when dumping on DOWD. I shed all Imperial trappings and monarchial majesty and become a monotheist whenever our BOB in Howlerven
      turns his wrath on her. Although I must point out he did not have the temerity and/or
      snap to ask why Dowd never discussed if Quinn's teal toenails and her fingernails matched.


    3. I'm curious, Is "KZ" short for "Krazy"?

    4. No.

      King Zarkon. From Doom. Where paralysis
      comes from planetary gravity not press gravitas.

    5. As usual, OMB deserves every double facepalm img google has to offer.

    6. Well Marcus, if stupid press did not do Quinn harm, or help deBlasio, then I guess
      it had no impact on Gore either.


  3. Gloria Steinem is arguably America's most public yet bizarrely unrecognized crackpot. During the early 1990s she promoted the belief that there was an an international Satanic conspiracy conducting human sacrifices and engaging in fetus munching and notoriously praised the work of quack psychiatrist Bennett Braun who claimed that the leader was--and I swear I'm not making this up--a Jewish Nazi (cough, cough) named Dr. Green. Thankfully Braun eventually had his license to practice medicine revoked. Steinem's reputation, on the other hand, seems to have been completely unaffected by this episode, which by rights should have relegated her to the dust/loony bin of history.

    See how the patriarchy oppresses women?

    1. Steinem promoted belief in Statanic fetus munching in the earlky 90's? Not making it up!

      OK. Link to any example of this promotion.

    2. A degenerate troll writing, really disgusting. I do wish Somerby would stop trolling comments.

    3. Anon 12:07 - google Steinem and satanic ritual abuse and be apprised of hundreds of links detailing Steinem's and MS magazine's support for the "recovered memory movement" and prosecution of the Buckleys et al.

      If you can't be bothered to do a simple google search, know that Steinem narrated a 1993 HBO documentary "Search for Deadly Memories", detailing the techniques used by recovered memory proponents.

      Foolish to deny these basic facts.


    4. Anon at 4:20 "Foolish to deny these basic facts." Foolish of you to type those words!

      First, the basic fact asserted was this:

      "During the early 1990s she promoted the belief that there was an an international Satanic conspiracy conducting human sacrifices and engaging in fetus munching."

      I didn't deny this as a fact. I asked its author to serve up a single link. None has been. You offer no links either. You simply suggest I google something and I will "get hundreds of links detailing...."

      Want a basic fact? If I google "Obama and Satan" I will get hundreds if not thousands of links detailing.....

      Support for the "recovered memory movement"
      is hardly promotion in the 1990's of a fetus munching Satanic conspiracy.

      I do hope you will try hard, now that I have challenged you, and dredge up the infamous Ms. Magazine cover story from 1993. Hope you research Ms. Magazine's ownership before you try.

    5. Ah, you want links containing the words Steinem and fetus-munching!

      Sorry, no can do. But the undisputed facts about Steinem are that she provided considerable support and promulgation of recovered memory movement bullshit.

      Thousands of lives were altered and families shattered by this "movement" lauded over and over again by Steinem. And I've never seen a single statement from her repudiating this corrosive evil.

      In her review of the appalling 'Secret Survivors', she wrote that the book "explores the constellation of symptoms that result from a crime too cruel for the memory to face. This book, like the truth it helps uncover, can set millions free."

      Proponents of recovered memory promoted a belief in satanic ritual abuse, skyrocketing levels of incest, and child molestation by daycare workers. For years, Steinem pushed the narrative of the Courage to Heal monstrosity. Foul beyond compare.

  4. I break my self-imposed exile from commenting to offer the following:

    Non NYC'ers should refrain from trying to comment on NYC politics. (Questions welcome. Know-it-all comments, forget it.) To comment is beyond the folks in NYC to handle in any summary way and certainly not within the range of Mr. S or most of the commenters here.

    Please note that the NYT is not the main source of info for New Yorkers (in case Bob's ditto-heads think it is). (In fact, Cecilia-ditto-head-in-chief-and -an example of -the-source-of-our-nation's woes -- is she employed by the Koch brothers? -- may be interested to learn that the Wall Street Journal has wider readership in NYC than the NYT does. Even among many liberals! E.g., my high school best friend, a Jewish woman married to a black woman -- go figure!) So let's all pile on the Dowds and Collins, whom most New Yorkers either ignore or have never heard of. Feels good, I guess, to Bob and his ditto-heads, to go for the low-hanging Dowd and Collins fruit. (Question: why does he not go after the males more? Friedman, Brooks, Douthat.... Those guys who actually dominate the NYT pages?) And completely misses the point.

    Go after the NYT as a national (rather than local) newspaper, if you want. But please, stop identifying this corporatist (as it always has been) newspaper as particularly liberal or (god forbid! as left. The left i.d .is particularly offensive. The NYT? you gotta be kidding!) The paper is totally corporatist and always has been, as anyone who knows NYC knows -- as anyone who is seriously "liberal" to "left" has known certainly since my childhood (1950's). (God, my grandfather, born in 1890's NYC knew it! And he a Republican (of that era, I add in his defense), not some crazy lefty.) Really, don't try to pretend that the NYT is "the" NYC news and opinion source."

    God, give this great city, however much it over-boosters itself (yes, does so insanely), a little credit.

    1. This was the worst attempt at forming an argument I have ever seen.

    2. "- is she employed by the Koch brothers? -- "

      No, but close: The Satanic Fetus Munchers Consortium.

    3. When I worked in a Wall Street brokerage firm, a copy of that days WSJ appeared on everyone's desktop, and I mean a piece of furniture, not a terminal.

      Most of the recipients of these freebies only looked at the stock and bond prices. That's why the WSJ was put there.

      I don't know if this holds true today when a desktop is now on a computer screen, but it does leave room for thought. How many desks are there in New York's financial District?

      Circulation is not necessarily readership.

  5. This is a truly excellent analysis. The NYTs own maps of who voted for Quinn, a small concentration of upper Eastsiders -- and NO ONE else, spoke volumes. It also showed that turning Manhattan into a borough of semi-vacant corporate housing and luxury pied à terres for people who are registered to vote elsewhere had some political consequences for the perpetrator. Manhattan is on the way to morphing into a version of Short Hills or Palm Beach! Too bad this post, like many of Somerby's better ones, seems to have attracted an unusual number of trolls/ I do wish he would start to moderate the comments. --Ellen

    1. Yes, it is a shame it took 24 hours before any of the many who admired its excellence thought to speak out, Ellen.

      So what showed the political consequences, the maps or the analysis? And who, pray tell, was the perpetrator?

    2. Shorter Ellen: anyone who criticizes the blogger for any reason is a troll.

      Sound familiar?