L.A. press to the Gray Lady: Start your bitching!

Publisher slams New York Times for omitting book title with B-word.

By Lynn Harris

Published December 7, 2005 7:58PM (EST)

Via Publishers Lunch: "LA's Silman-James Press has put out a release criticizing the NYT for 'astonishing squeamishness and misplaced political correctness' in omitting the title of the book CHESS BITCH: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport from two articles in the November 27 edition of the paper.

"The book by U.S. Women's Chess Champion Jennifer Shahade was referred to in the Sunday Styles section, and Shahade was commissioned to write a Week in Review piece, but apparently neither piece featured the B-word."

Silman-James co-publisher Gwen Feldman was quoted in the release as saying: "We asked that the Times have the courage and courtesy of setting the record straight by publishing the full title of 'Chess Bitch,' but they have declined even though one of its top editors has admitted in an email to me that 'it was an act of overly zealous concern for readers' sensitivities.'" She continues: "We are outraged by The Times' conduct and appalled that one of the country's great newspapers does not have the strength of character to admit to its readers that it lacked the spine to invoke a word that is perfectly acceptable in its context," said Feldman.

According to the release, the Times "has a history of using the word 'bitch' on its pages as far back 1975, when it reviewed a film called 'Super Bitch,' making its decision regarding 'Chess Bitch' all the more confounding."

Indeed! Bitches have come a long way, baby. "Super Bitch," it should be noted, is a "prominent drug dealer [who] works overtime to keep her title by wantonly using men to do her dirty work and then having them killed."

So maybe "bitch" is OK when it's accurate, but not when it's ironic? Gotcha. Here's how the Times could prove it hasn't totally lost its sense of humor: Retaliate with a statement calling Ms. Feldman a "total bee-yotch."

In other bitch news: According to the New York Observer, they're back.

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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