Monday, June 3, 2013

Women in Politics? What a Concept!

Actual NYT quote:
The Congress of yore might conjure images of spittoons and old male politicians with briefcases, but the 113th has ushered in a historic number of women — 20 in the Senate, and 81 in the House — and with them a historic number of handbags.
Actual WaPo quote:
It may say more about Washington than White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler that she’s known in the West Wing for her fabulous shoes.
Okay, quick history lesson. See this person?
That's Jeanette Rankin. She was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. That happened in 1916. 1916. As in Season 2 of Downton Abbey. At that time, a woman serving in Congress was a novelty, and it was appropriate to report it as such. But that was nearly a century ago. Today, women serve at all levels of government, and even if their percentages in the Congress don't come close to their percentages in the general population, they are not a novelty anymore.

There are plenty of important stories just begging to be covered. Is the presence of handbags in the Senate cloak room really one of them?

(h/t Christina Wolbrecht)


  1. I would think that in their drive to cut costs due to all of the problems newspapers have been having recently, those things are being reported by people who are not particularly well paid, not very senior, and not expert on political issues. Quality reporting is expensive, and those companies simply don't have the resources to pay people to do it very often. I would also argue that as private businesses, it is unrealistic to expect them to fill in as a branch of government. Just as any other businesses does, they have the right to ask "who are you to say how we should run our business?" Many people who read what they publish aren't even paying customers--advertisers are.

  2. I wish that were the explanation. The WaPo piece was written by Juliet Eilperin, an experienced and pretty solid (and presumably reasonably paid) reporter. I don't know much about Ashley Parker, the NYT author, but she used to research for Maureen Dowd, which is instructive.