In case you have any doubts that the word ‘liberal’ implies evolved, two recent stories on the Huffington Post dispel that myth. One takes a hard look at which celebrity looks better wet and the other gives you, the reader, a chance to guess which boob job belongs to which celebrity, leaving one to wonder if you might as well just surf internet porn or go buy a copy of Hustler. As Buzzflash points out in conferring its Media Putz Award on HuffPo,
(N)ewsgathering organizations have to rely on credibility and legitimacy. Articles on fake celebrity boobs with no news value destroy both. As of this writing, this photo essay has received 1,158,595 views — a lot of hits — but at what price?
The Huffington Post has been portrayed as a progressive news Web site run by a woman, yet the site is filled with celebrity misogynist content, none more egregious than the fake celebrity breasts photo essay.
The misogyny at HuffPo however goes beyond content however. A study by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) in late 2008 found that over a nine week period, only 23% of the HuffPo bylines were by women. Jessica Wakeman writes,
Of the 89 times bylines were checked during the study, not once did the number of women’s bylines equal those belonging to men. Only eight times did women account for more than a third of all bylines. And Arianna Huffington, appearing 57 times, accounted for more than a fifth of all women’s bylines; 45 of those occupied the most visible top post. Only once, in fact, did a woman other than Arianna Huffington get her byline in the most visible top slot.
While it is particularly frustrating to see this in a news outlet that was founded by a woman, as Wakeman points out, those stats are in line with the industry norm.
Needless to say, as a woman who happens to write, this is pretty discouraging. Regardless of what I write and how well I say it, the chances of getting my worked picked up by a major outlet and getting wide readership are lousy. And I guarantee you this, by using the word “porn” in the title to this post, it will get many, many more hits than earlier posts this week about the perilous situations faced by sheroic human rights activists in Columbia and Burma (you did read those posts, didn’t you?).
As Catherine Orenstein of the Op-Ed Project, who is quoted in the FAIR piece quite accurately puts it, “The ways people get the most attention are still stacked.”
Postscript: In the Look What They’ve Done To My Song Ma category of publicity stunts that make you go eeewww, Bob Dylan’s latest album probably should have been called, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Definitely Not Alright.” Truly a sad day in folk music and another fine example of the unevolved liberal ethos.
Update: Kudos to WIMNs Voices Blogger Miranda Spencer for pointing out that HuffPo is apparently not content to rest on their laurels after winning the coveted Media Putz award, lookee what they posted today (hint, it involves bikinis and breast implants). Of note, all three of these offensive pieces are all written by Katherine Thomson, Senior Features Editor at HuffPo, here’s hoping she and Arianna get together and do some serious rethinking of what they are featuring. Soon.
On a much more cheerful note, check out this fabulous example of feminist media table-turning!