Deja Vu

Photo by Camille Kimberly on Unsplash

We’ve learned our lessons, right?

Moving forward, we will behave differently?

Especially quality journalists who yield a mighty sword?

They will use more discretion in the stories that they highlight (or repeat ad nauseam), and they will be careful in the language that they use?

For example, they will avoid describing a woman as cold, or warm, or thawing, correct? Instead they will describe factually what she has to say, her actions, and her accomplishments?

So why did I find this quote in an article about Elizabeth Warren on the front page of the Boston Globe?

After giving most of the media the cold shoulder since she arrived in the Senate five years ago, Warren is warming up to the press. … Now political observers and reporters alike have noticed a thaw — of sorts.

The article discusses her “strained relationship” with the press and even includes this absolutely ridiculous false equivalence tweeted by an editor of the New York Times:

Warren’s disdain for the press is comparable to Trump’s disdain for the press? Really?

Post 11/9, why is an editor from the New York Times tweeting this false equivalence, and why is a journalist from the Boston Globe quoting it?

So, it looks like we need to learn a little bit more about language and false equivalence and the stories that we choose to highlight.

But, in light of recent events, many of us have certainly come up to speed about sexual harassment, right? We don’t blame the victim? We don’t make excuses for the harasser? We don’t focus on the how or when the victim describes the event since there are so many factors that go into a person’s level of comfort (or discomfort) in telling the story, right? Rather, we focus on the actual event?

Especially quality journalists who yield a mighty sword?

Then how come this article once again about Elizabeth Warren and once again published on the front page of the Boston Globe reports that Warren’s “tone of her telling [of her experience with sexual harassment] appears to be inconsistent.” 

So, her tone when she was in her twenties (when the incident happened) was different from the tone she used in her forties. And that tone was different from the tone she is currently using in her sixties!

How is that possible? What do you suppose could be behind that inconsistent tone?

The journalist also reports that Warren may have laughed uncontrollably during the actual incident. And isn’t it odd she went to his funeral?

That made me think of the time when a police officer informed me a boy had told my then 16-year-old daughter “I could rape you.” But, the officer added, she laughed and didn’t leave.

Fingers crossed that journalists 35 or so years from now know what part of that story is important to cover.

The journalist also notes that Warren did not mention that her harasser had suffered from polio, which affected his mobility.

Those of you with mobility issues? I guess it’s okay for you to sexually harass women. Because I guess it shouldn’t really bother them. Or I guess they aren’t really in danger. Ah, never mind. I really don’t have any educated guesses as to why it was important for Warren to note the fact the creep had polio.

And what hurts most is that the journalist who penned both of these articles is a woman.

Madeleine Albright’s quote, which was misinterpreted during the campaign, comes to mind:

There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.

Thank goodness the Globe had a great follow-up article by Joan Vennochi today.

To the editors and journalists out there – including at my favorite papers The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and The Washington Post – please step up. Please take on this very important responsibility that you have. Get it right.

I don’t want to relive 2016.

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1 Response

  1. Susan Colt says: