Newsweek's Palin Cover

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Newsweek's cover photo, is, in Sarah Palin's words, "unfortunate." Originally shot for a running magazine, the photo displays the former governor in short shorts under the cloying headline, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah?" Palin has slammed the magazine on her Facebook blog: "When it comes to Sarah Palin, this 'news' magazine has relished focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant," she writes. "The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now." Newsweek's editor-in-chief Jon Meacham responds: "We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do." Pundits are inclined to side with Palin:

  • How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sexism?  At Media Matters, hardly a bastion of Palin love, Julie Millican says Newsweek didn't have to employ sexism to disparage Sarah Palin. "There are a lot of legitimate reasons to criticize Sarah Palin, her new book, and her policies, but you don't have to stoop to sexism to do it," she writes. "Like her or not, Palin is a former governor and vice presidential candidate. She deserves the same respect every single one of her male counterparts receives when they are featured on the cover of the magazine. I must have missed the cover of Vice President Joe Biden in short shorts or of Mitt Romney in a bathing suit." Millican says the magazine's cover is just "the latest in a pattern of the media's sexist coverage of female politicians," including Hillary Clinton.
  • If It Wasn't Sexist, Than What Was the Point?  At Hot Air, Allahpundit says sex sells. And he can't find another explanation for putting a "sexy" photo of the former governor on the magazine's cover.
The point of the cover is … what? Sarah Palin likes to jog? Sarah Palin is in damned fine shape? Sarah Palin showing some leg might help sell a few more magazines? Where’s the “conveyance” in that? There’s nothing necessarily sexist about noting her physical appeal, even in the course of an otherwise serious political critique, but as a standalone image to introduce a bunch of pieces that dump on her, the subtext seems to be that she’s not worth taking seriously — and that her good looks symbolize that. I know women on both sides of the aisle who disprove that theory.
  • Sexism Created Sarah Palin  Amanda Hess of The Washington City Paper says "Sarah Palin’s very existence as a national figure depends upon people being sexist." She argues that it was sexism that propelled Palin to the national stage to begin with. "Hey! That sounds kind of like what John McCain did when he chose Palin as his VP: Found an attractive lady, slapped her on to his campaign, and used her image as a sexy lady in order to distract people from her scant qualifications, her total lack of concern for women’s issues, and her complete suckiness as a candidate."
  • Memo to Palin: Embrace Your Sexy Self  Palin fan Robert Stacy McCain says Palin can beat the media at their own game by owning her image as a powerful, and yes, sexy woman. "You are a happily married Christian conservative pro-life woman who -- oh, glorious coincidence! -- looks good in shorts," he says. "Your husband is a certified USDA prime slice of hunkalicious beef, your son is a soldier in Bravo Company, and your daughter is a single mom with a selfish douchebag ex-boyfriend. All of which is to say, you are the 21st-century all-American woman, a symbol to which a lot of moms can relate." McCain advises Palin not to let the media get under her skin. "Don't ignore your critics, governor, but don't let them undermine your confidence, either. You are winning."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.