- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2000

Pretty women

The White House Project has taken a closer look at the failed presidential bid of Elizabeth Dole and discovered a "disturbing trend" in newspaper coverage of women running for elected office.
"Coverage of what women will wear when they represent their country rather than what they'll do for the country remains a serious problem for female candidates," says White House Project President Marie C. Wilson.
Most recent victim: Mrs. Dole, who bowed out of this year's presidential contest in its early stages.
"Reporters covering this year's presidential race publicized Elizabeth Dole's personal traits more than they publicized her policies," says Mrs. Wilson. "This new research echoes what we found in our study of newspaper coverage of five women running for governor in 1998."
The independent women's group analyzed 3,900 paragraphs from 500 stories torn from five major newspapers. It concluded male reporters were more likely to focus on the "personal" rather than the "political" when covering Mrs. Dole.
At the same time, the study found female reporters covered Mrs. Dole, presidential candidate George W. Bush, and former candidate Steve Forbes "equitably."
"The timing of this report is auspicious, as many women candidates enter the final stages of their election-year battle," Mrs. Wilson notes.
Five women are currently running for governor, five for lieutenant governor, more than 100 for the House, and six for the Senate.

Flashing Kay

Media gadfly Steven Brill launched his journalism watchdog magazine Brill's Content to spotlight the good and embarrass the bad the latter now apparently including Washington Post matron Katharine Graham.

"What do you do about bad journalism?" Mr. Brill told a meeting of religious communicators this week. "You embarrass the people who do it."

He proposed the Federal Communications Commission impose a rule that at the end of every television show the name of the CEO of the company ultimately responsible for that show's airing be flashed across the screen.

"So at the end of the Jerry Springer Show, you would see the name 'Katharine Graham,' " he said.

Mr. Brill conceded such a rule might not improve the content of television programming, but it certainly "would be fun" to give a prominent name like Mrs. Graham a public airing.

Former publisher of the Post, Mrs. Graham is chairman of a television media conglomerate that, among other programs, presents the controversial show hosted by Mr. Springer.

Mr. Brill's lecture wasn't sponsored by Mrs. Graham, but the United Church of Christ, the National Council of Churches and the Telecommunications Research and Action Center.

Abusing Adam

Adam Clymer says he gets paid to take abuse as a New York Times reporter, but that doesn't mean he should pay to read it.
So the celebrated scribe, target of a recent disparaging remark by Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, writes to the editors of Washingtonian, asking his subscription to the magazine be canceled.
"He had nine months remaining, so we prorated it and returned his money," says a source at the magazine.
Mr. Clymer was upset after being roasted not once, but twice, in the October issue's Capital Comment, edited by Chuck Conconi.

B team

Republican pollster Frank Luntz says more Americans have heard of Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joseph I. Lieberman (primarily because he's made religion an issue in the campaign) than Republican counterpart Richard B. Cheney.
"Fully 40 percent of all likely voters cannot identify Republican vice-presidential nominee Dick Cheney as George W. Bush's running mate, and 34 percent cannot name Al Gore's vice-presidential pick," Mr. Luntz says.
This column isn't so sure name recognition matters. As John Adams, the nation's first-ever vice president, wrote to his wife, Abigail: "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

Donna's gold

The nation's No. 1 sports fan, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna M. Shalala, is back in Washington after heading the U.S. delegation to the Olympic games in Sydney, Australia.
We caught up with the secretary yesterday, who told us HHS actually won its first gold medal at the games.
It came in the first-ever Olympic triathlon, a grueling three-sport event that combines a one-mile cold-water swim, 25-mile bicycle race and 6-mile run.
The winner of the two-hour race: 33-year-old Swiss high school teacher Brigitte McMahon.
Turns out Ricia McMahon, Brigitte's mother-in-law, works at HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And when Brigitte crossed the finish line, Miss Shalala not only was there to greet her, the secretary couldn't help but scream: "HHS just won a gold medal!"

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