The latest incident in the ongoing Sarah Palin hullaballoo is the charges of sexism being levelled at Newsweek for their cover story, critical of Palin, which uses a shot from a spread Palin did for Runner’s World magazine earlier this year.
And you know what? Palin and her supporters are RIGHT.
Sure, she agreed to the shoot in the first place — but it was a shoot for a fluff piece promoting women’s health in an athletics magazine. It was all about the context. Is it a bit “beauty queen?” Sure — but again, it wasn’t ever intended as anything other than “I’m a runner, here’s my running gear — women should excercise!” Hard to really criticize someone for that, even if you think (as I do) that they’re an emblem of everything that’s wrong with neoconservatism.
Newsweek sought out that photo. Purchased it from the photo bureau that owned the rights. They specifically set out to pick a photo that portrayed her as unserious, frivilous — as a problem. So, what did they go for? They went for a pin-up shot of a woman showing off her body.
I’m sorry, but even if you can’t stand Sarah Palin (and believe me, I can’t) — that’s bullshit. That’s exactly the same thing as the “Hillary Nutcrackers” which were selling around the country during the Presidential Primaries. Belittling her on the basis of her gender.
Going after her in a sexist attack is not only wrong, but it also is a massively stupid thing to do: It gives her and her supporters fuel for the whole “Palin as Victim” thing, which they have used to keep her from any tough questions regarding her qualifications or positions. This is a woman who almost made it to the office of Vice President of the United States without ever having to answer unfiltered questions about her political positions or plans. This sort of gender-based smear makes it only more likely that real attempts at journalism will be painted with the “liberal media attack dog” brush.
It also ignores the very real threat that she poses, as an example of empty-suited populist demagoguery — she, like Bush before her, is an unqualified know-nothing used as a figurehead and a mouthpiece for some very sinister neocon power-players, to enact their agenda in the guise of “Aw Shucks, Jus’ Folks” classism. There’s a word for the corporate-conservative agenda, kids — Fascism. And ignoring that reality, especially while engaging in really nasty gender-based attacks, is unbelievably irresponsible.
Newsweek not only commits blatant sexism here, they abdicate their most essential responsibility as journalists. Folks on the Left should be pointing this out, just as much as critics on the Right.