The Post tells (half of) the sexism story!


Jessica Goldstein gets it (half) right: We'll guess that Jessica Goldstein's report is headed for the magazine in this coming Sunday's Washington Post.

Repeat—that's just a guess. At any rate, Goldstein's essay appeared online yesterday morning. As best we can tell, Goldstein does an excellent job telling one half of a story.

Goldstein's essay tells the sleazy story of sleazy media misogyny around the turn of the century. Rather, it tells the story of sleazy media misogyny as directed at young entertainment stars like Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson.

We weren't reading the sleazy magazines, Rolling Stone not excluded, on which Goldstein focuses. But here's a taste of the media culture she's talking about:

GOLDSTEIN (3/2/21): What exactly was going on in the early 2000s? From one vantage point, it was an encouraging period for young women, a real you-go-girl time in entertainment. All-female acts like TLC and Destiny’s Child climbed the charts with anthems about kicking scrubs and cheating exes to the curb. Smart, plucky heroines led box office hits like “Erin Brockovich,” “Bend it Like Beckham” and “Legally Blonde,” while “Buffy,” “Dark Angel” and “Alias” duked it out on TV. It seemed like a pretty good time to be a girl, considering the alternative (all of human history up to that point). 

But it was also the era of “Girls Gone Wild” and MTV Spring Break live-streaming wet T-shirt contests from Daytona Beach. Terms like “slut-shaming” and “victim-blaming” had yet to enter the lexicon and “revenge porn” was neither a concept nor a criminal offense, though sex tapes released without the consent of their participants (like Paris Hilton’s) were treated as major news and entertainment events.

“There was a lot of talk about the word ‘raunch,’ ” said Vanessa Grigoriadis, who, as a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, spent the 2000s profiling celebrities, including Simpson and Spears. “What is raunch culture and why is it taking over America? Why are people interested in Jenny McCarthy and Jessica Simpson and Jenna Jameson and Anna Nicole Smith? . . . I think everybody thought this was a real moment in American pop culture history where we had reached the bottom.”

"What exactly was going on in the early 2000s?" Goldstein focuses on the raunch culture of magazines which adopted an exploitative stance toward young female celebrities.

What kind of exploitive stance is being discussed? Exploitive raunch like this:

GOLDSTEIN: Dan Peres, who became editor in chief of Details in 2000, noted this shift in his 2019 memoir: “Edginess and cool had given way to T&A and bosomy midriff-baring cover models,” he wrote. “Fighting to compete, most traditional men’s magazines, including Details, followed suit, and their covers became virtually indistinguishable from the Playboys I used to try to peek at as a kid.”

Even the more literary-minded men’s magazines got in on it. In 2003, Britney was pantsless on Esquire; three years later, Aguilera was topless on GQ. The articles pretty much matched the pictures. “The male writer would go and basically flirt with a female celebrity to see if the female celebrity would take the bait,” said Grigoriadis, her eye roll nearly audible through the phone. “That was a trope that was used constantly.”

Goldstein discusses the extent to which these young female stars can be said to have played a willing role in this culture. But there's one thing Goldstein doesn't discuss:

She doesn't discuss what was happening in the early 2000s (and in the 1990s) with respect to our sleazy and deeply stupid high-end political culture.

As far as we know, Goldstein has done an excellent job with this aspect of entertainment culture. If she has the stomach for it, we'd like to see her roll up her sleeves, extend her range, and tackle the political side of the coin:

The misogyny aimed at Hillary Clinton from the 1990s on. The misogyny aimed at Naomi Wolf during Campaign 2000.

The ridiculous conduct of Chris Matthews, followed by the ridiculous conduct of Keith Olbermann, all of it aided by the ridiculous conduct of their various manchild sidekicks and by the silence of a wide range of enablers. All of this was permitted by the lazy indifference of the liberal and feminist worlds, who let this garbage-can culture continue until Donald J. Trump reached the White House.

Our resistance began the very next day! Literally, that's when we "rose from our warm beds" and began to pretend to resist.

In June 2008, Clark Hoyt devoted a column to the misogyny Maureen Dowd had aimed at Candidate Hillary Clinton during the previous year of campaigning. At the time, Hoyt was the New York Times' public editor.

On the upper ends of the mainstream and liberal worlds, Hoyt's column generated exactly zero discussion. Even after such a jump start, the behavior of such a major New York Times star simply could not be discussed.

This is one of the basic ways we got Donald J. Trump. This is also one of the basic ways we got George W. Bush.

On the brighter side, a bunch of people scored outstanding careers in mainstream and liberal journalism. They were rewarded for their silence. Everyone else got Trump.

(Have you ever seen Rachel talk about this? No, and you never will. Last night, she made an utter fool of herself beating on Joe Manchin. We aren't especially sharp in Our Town, although we do know what we like.)

We think Goldstein did an excellent job. Half of the story remains.


  1. "She doesn't discuss what was happening in the early 2000s (and in the 1990s) with respect to our sleazy and deeply stupid high-end political culture."

    However bad it was in the early 2000s and the 1990s, dear Bob, it was a political culture paradise compared to the mountains of shit your liberal-hitlerian cult constructed (and still is constructing) since 2016.

    So, please get your righteous indignation priorities straight, dear Bob.

    1. Trump tried to gaslight a viral pandemic, as if it was some common Right-wing bigot cheering along his HUGE tax breaks for the Establishment.

  2. Goldstein wrote a story about something else, something different than what Somerby wanted talked about. That isn't her fault -- he isn't her editor, just another reader.

    Feminists said plenty, at the time, about the misogynistic treatment of Hillary during her multiple elections. Somerby doesn't read those writers. He claims they said nothing because he doesn't read them. If Somerby thinks mainstream writers are going to hang themselves out to dry by citing misogyny in the mainstream press, he doesn't understand how bias works. ACCESS is required to make such complaints, and it isn't granted to women who are speaking in shrill voices about things that make men uncomfortable.

    So fuck Somerby and his too little too late "wokeness" on misogyny that he cannot seem to recognize unless Maureen Dowd does it.

    1. Somerby defended Brock Turner. So much for his claims about concern on misogyny. And there are his continual attacks on Maddow (probably because she isn't a Trumptard like TDH).

  3. Bob, would you pity Olbermann if you found out he was a sociopath?

  4. Here is a feminist review of how gender affected Clinton in 2008. It includes an analysis of how the media treated sexism and sexist remarks during her campaign. It includes the following comment about Clark Hoyt:

    "The second example is from the New York Times, which clearly felt compelled to defend itself and media coverage more generally against charges of sexism in both a June 13 article1 and a June 22 op-ed by Clark Hoyt,2 public editor for the newspaper. The upshot of both was that the accusations of sexism were without much merit. However, consider this quote from a front page article in the New York Times on March 4, 2008: “The day was the latest installment in the riveting drama between two formidable, historic candidates: the first woman to be a serious contender for president and the charismatic young black man who has packed arenas across the country and overtaken Mrs. Clinton in many polls and the delegate count.”3 If you were an undecided voter, which candidate would you want to support? And consider that the New York Times actually endorsed Hillary Clinton as their choice for the Democratic nomination! With friends like these, who needs enemies?"

    The article also discusses the tendency to ignore sexism as a problem that affected Clinton's campaign strategy and the tendency to blame Clinton's loss on campaign inadequacies (without taking the need to respond to sexism into account).

    This has been Somerby's problem too. Somerby tries to strike a pseudo-feminist stance today, but he himself has said on numerous occasions that Clinton lost because she was a terrible candidate and he has never acknowledged the difficulties a female candidate encounters that dictate how she must campaign, as this article clearly explains them.

    Media Matters complained loudly about the unfair treatment of Clinton, as did both feminists and Clinton supporters, but the press wasn't interested in hearing about it. Somerby confuses media silence with a lack of outcry. The outcry was there -- Somerby didn't know where to go to listen to it.

  5. Somerby wrote a column attacking Nancy Pelosi for being unconcerned about the sexist attacks on Hillary, but he did so on July 25, 2008, after the Democratic nomination had gone to Obama and the Democratic party was rallying about him. Somerby pretends not to understand the politics of expecting the Speaker of the House to diss the outcome of the nominating process that produced a Democratic nominee that she would likely have to working with. That's just not realistic.

    Then Somerby quotes Hoyt saying:

    "Over the course of the campaign, I received complaints that Times coverage of Clinton included too much emphasis on her appearance, too many stereotypical words that appeared to put her down and dismiss a woman's potential for leadership and too many snide references to her as cold or unlikable. When I pressed for details, the subject often boiled down to Dowd."

    In this manner, Hoyt evaded the sexism rampant in nearly all reporting by the paper and scapegoated Dowd (who did deserve it, but was far from the only person engaging in sexist coverage of Clinton's campaign). This is how Hoyt shifted blame from all of the other coverage by the paper.

    Somerby piled on, because he didn't like the way Dowd talked about Gore, not because he felt a strong need to defend Clinton against sexism. Today, Somerby pretends there weren't numerous complaints about Clinton's sexist treatment received by the Times, and he blames feminists.

    And in 2016, Somerby blamed Clinton, having learned nothing from media coverage in 2008, which got worse with coverage of Clinton Cash, Benghazi, Clinton's emails, and leaked Podesta emails on Wikileaks, and the tactics of the Bernie Bros (who hacked Clinton's DNC files and then complained bitterly when they were sanctioned for it), not to mention Trump's Russian benefactors, and Comey's October surprise. And yet she won the popular vote. But Somerby called her a failed candidate. Some feminist! And now Somerby wants to let all that by bygones and pretend he complained about Clinton's treatment. As if!

    1. Note that both Somerby and Hoyt complained about sexism after the election was over and not during the campaign or while the sexism was occurring. If he cared, he would have been more prompt, seems to me.

  6. “All of this was permitted by the lazy indifference of the liberal and feminist worlds”

    This is Somerby’s story and he’s sticking to it. Without this claim, Somerby’s blogging on this topic would be meaningless. With it, he gets to claim that liberals (and feminists) are “performative”, in other words they claim to care about sexism, but they really don’t, because Somerby says none of them complained. He can’t prove nobody complained, because you can’t prove a negative. So he gets to make an unproven claim and treat it as truth.

    When he later says:
    “On the brighter side, a bunch of people scored outstanding careers in mainstream and liberal journalism. They were rewarded for their silence. “, it does nothing to qualify his earlier statement that liberals and feminists were indifferent. That some (unnamed) people supposedly benefited from journalism careers by their silence doesn’t prove that liberals and feminists in general were silent. In fact, liberals and feminists have always been angry at the mainstream press for this and many other reasons.

    The other thing that Somerby does is to reduce sexism or misogyny to high profile people like Matthews or Olbermann, when it was (and is) a massive societal problem. It goes beyond Matthews calling Hillary “Nurse Ratched.”

    From 2017:
    “Women made up 39.1 percent of all newsroom employees in 2017, compared to 38.7 percent in 2016. (And only up slightly from way back in 2001, when it was 37.35 percent.) Again, online-only news organizations did better than daily newspapers: 47.8 percent of online-only news site employees were women, compared to 47.6 percent in 2016, while at daily newspapers, women comprised 38.9 percent of employees, compared to 38.1 percent in 2016.”

    This is also part of the problem.

  7. If Matthews had been fired for calling Hillary “Nurse Ratched”, that would have been an example of liberal cancel culture. Many Trump voters would have been born because of it.

    At least, that seems to be the way it works in Bobworld.

  8. 'We aren't especially sharp in Our Town, although we do know what we like.)'

    You mean your town of hardcore Trumptards intent on attacking liberals and defending Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes, Tucker Carlson, DJT, Zimmerman and Brock Turner ?

  9. What exactly were the great things that Hillary Clinton was going to do in office?

    You can pathologize the media all you want but I've never seen an answer to that.

    1. Not let half a million people die from covid.

    2. 11:35,
      Should have paid more attention to her campaign, and less to the Right-wing NY Times mouthpieces, who pretended to care that Republicans were pretending to care about her email protocols.

      Thanks for letting us know you were one of those who got suckered by corporate malfeasance.

    3. 2 non-answers. Democrats don't believe in anything. Do they? What do they believe in? They don't believe in helping the working class. Democrats despise the working class.

      They do believe in war.

      Oh boy do they love war.

      What were the great things Hillary was going to do in office? Stop the pandemic? That's it?

    4. What do Democrats have on the table now that will improve the common good? Putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill? The Democrats are too in bed with their donors, Wall Street and corporate multi nationals to affect real change to the common good. People come after corporations for Harris, Pelosi, Biden etc. The people come second each and every time with both sides.

      Democratic Party would have to acknowledge that something much bigger than Trump is wrong in our society. It would take letting go of the mythical American story of steady, forward progress. And this is a myth that Democrats don’t seem ready to abandon.

    5. How about the stimulus bill, which is supported by 70%% of voters, including Republicans?

    6. Trump gave us stimulus bills, sugar.

    7. What do Democrats believe in? Name one thing.

    8. Everyone's vote gets to count.
      Representative democracy.

    9. 10:18's point is that Democrats should spend more time governing, and less time reminding America that the Republican Party puts sexual predators on the Supreme Court.

  10. The reason there isn't enough love has to do with America being run by rich, spoiled brats. The only rich people who even try to care are actors and musicians, because their jobs require empathy.

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  12. "Last night, she made an utter fool of herself beating on Joe Manchin."

    Maddow targeted Manchin because he is blocking passage of the Stimulus bill. Somerby must know this. That he objects tells us where his sympathies lie -- with conservatives who are trying to delay its passage, God knows why.

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