How do you solve a problem like Jon Meacham?

Hell freezes over: I agree with Sarah Palin. Newsweek's out of context short-shorts cover was sexist

Topics: 2008 Elections, Media Criticism, Sarah Palin,

I mentioned it in passing yesterday, but Newsweek’s Jon Meacham gets America’s Top Clueless Male award for taking a photo Sarah Palin shot for Runner’s World, and using it on a serious news story about her role in the GOP. Palin denounced the photo selection as “sexist and degrading” on her Facebook page, and she’s right.

Criticized by right and left — even my friend Markos Moulitsas thinks Newsweek went too far; Media Matters has been blasting Newsweek all day — Meacham told Politico: “We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do. We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard.”

Really, Jon Meacham? Did you really want to say that? OK, then, let’s deconstruct the cover entirely. The photo of the lovely, bare-legged Palin is paired with the headline: “How do you solve a problem like Sarah?” For those too young to recognize the reference, it’s from a “Sound of Music” song, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” about a young novice who is too cute and flighty to be a nun (“she’s a flibbertyjibbit, a will o’ the wisp, a clown!”). That’s a great way to describe our first GOP vice-presidential nominee. Not sexist at all. (The “how do you solve a problem like” cliché is typically applied to women, although I’m proud of once asking “How do you solve a problem like Joe Lieberman?” who is certainly a clown.) Oh yes, Jon Meacham, your answer is proof-positive that there was no sexism to your imagery. Fail.

You Might Also Like

A few liberals are trying to suggest that Palin has nothing to whine about since she willingly posed for the picture, but that’s silly: What she wore to a Runners’ World shoot is different from what she’d wear for Newsweek. I’ve heard people defend the photo because Palin uses her sexuality as part of her political appeal, and I think that’s also unfair. She didn’t campaign in daisy dukes and crop-tops; she’s a good-looking woman who wore flattering but professional jackets and skirts. Of course her looks are part of her appeal — I don’t think the gulf between men and women who “approve” of Palin (yup, she’s more popular with men, go figure!) is about her policy ideas — but attractive women are damned whatever they do with their looks. And let’s be clear — this wasn’t an article about Palin’s sex appeal, or the role of her gender in the campaign — this was an article about her political assets and flaws. The out-of-context photo was, in fact, “sexist and degrading,” as Palin says.

That’s about all the time I have to spend feeling sympathy for Sarah Palin: I detest her political ideas and her divisive approach to politics. But I call out sexism when I see it. Jon Meacham used a nice pair of women’s legs to sell his political magazine this week, reducing a powerful, ambitious woman to her shapely body parts, and that’s sexism. (On Twitter, the Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel linked to this alleged video of a Newsweek editorial meeting.)  It’s nice to see a lot of men and women on the right and left agree about something for a change. Maybe we can agree to get rid of the Stupak amendment! Nah, I didn’t think so. 

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>