Girls on Plame

A battle of the columnists, in which metaphoric variations of the term "catfight" get thoroughly explored

Published October 24, 2005 11:46PM (EDT)

Only in New York, Kids. Only in New York...

On Sunday, New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser -- a journalist whose work tends to list slightly to the right of Attila the Hun's -- used her column inches to explore the Valerie Plame-Judith Miller imbroglio over at the New York Times.

Peyser's column was headlined "Punchin' Judy: A Catfight Breaks Out at the Paper of Wreckage" and began with the words "Meow, Maureen." In it, Peyser recapped Maureen Dowd's critical Saturday column about Miller, describing the discord between the two Times reporters as a "catfight ... in full claw-baring, teeth-gnashing, blood-spattering swing." Peyser went on to call Dowd and Miller, respectively, the "50-something, Pulitzer-winning babe of record" and the "50-something, Pulitzer-winning babe of ill repute." After quoting Dowd's opening line, "I have always liked Judy Miller," Peyser editorialized, "Mee-ouch." Wondering why Dowd decided to come out against Miller, Peyser posited, "I guess they wanted a dame to pick on someone her own size." And later in the column, after rehashing Byron Calame's Sunday piece on the scandal and Bill Keller's regretful memo from Friday, Peyser described the time in 2001 when Miller was sent white powder in the mail, and everyone was afraid it was anthrax. "But that didn't stop Miller from theatrically, and hysterically, strutting around the newsroom," wrote Peyser.

In Monday's column, Peyser had decided -- thanks to a call from Miller in which the Times reporter had confessed, "I'm not mad; I'm sad" -- that her phone friend wasn't hysterical at all! In fact, she was putting on a "brave front as Times folk rip her." Perhaps most fantastically, Peyser complained that "hired gun moll Maureen Dowd on Saturday scratched out Judy's eyes in a remarkably sexist column."

Yeah. Dowd's column was sexist.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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