1. Powerful women under the microscope. I was surprised to read Politico’s recent story that quotes the proverbial anonymous member of the New York Times staff criticizing Executive Editor Jill Abramson. An incident involving managing editor Dean Baquet — in which he admittedly stormed out of her office, slammed his hand against a wall and then left the newsroom — provoked a discussion not about his behavior, but Abramson’s.
Significant criticism of Politico’s Dylan Byers media columnist ensued, leading Anna Palmer and Darren Samuelson to remind readers to: Sheryl Sandberg is bossy, Nancy Pelosi is old. Ann Curry is weepy. And Jill Abramson is condescending, brusque and bitchy.
Besides clothes, hair dos and wrinkles, perceived demeanor of women leaders is food for the journalistically opinionated and gossip mongers.
While Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was criticized for being too tough in ending the company’s teleworking policy, journalist Ann Curry has been criticized for being a cry baby — letting tears slip on her last day anchoring the “Today” show.
When her dismissal was attributed to her lack of chemistry with co-host Matt Lauer, Curry was over it. lashed out, “‘Chemistry,’ in television history, generally means the man does not want to work with the woman,” Curry reportedly said. “It’s an excuse generally used by men in positions of power to say, ‘The woman doesn’t work.’ ”
2. Really? “Come to papa!” Ouch! 30 Rock just can’t escape the fallout from Operation Bambi. This is the code name for the plan that dumped news reporter and then co-host Ann Curry off the ‘Today’ Show. And the bad guy is Matt Laurer, who denies that he ever told a production assistant, “I can’t believe I am sitting next to this woman.”
In late March, New York Magazine’s Joe Hagan wrote an in-depth analysis Matt Lauer and the Decline of NBC’s ‘Today’ Show.
“Matt Lauer doesn’t want to be seen with sharp knives, it’s because last summer his co-host Ann Curry was discovered with one in her back. She was swiftly replaced by a younger, more genial woman, Savannah Guthrie. Ever since, Lauer has been the prime suspect in Curry’s virtual demise. Five million viewers, the majority of them women, would not soon forget how Curry, the intrepid female correspondent and emotionally vivid anchor, spent her last appearance on the Today show couch openly weeping, devastated at having to leave after only a year. The image of Matt Lauer trying to comfort her—and of Curry turning away from his attempted kiss—has become a kind of monument to the real Matt Lauer, forensic evidence of his guilt.”
600,000 women viewers have left the Today Show over the Ann Curry debacle and the show worth half a billion dollars in ad revenue has lost its first place morning show ratings perch.
Ann Curry cont. next column.
As the NewYork Times reminded us a week ago in ‘Who Can Save the ‘Today’ Show?, Ann Curry had spent 22 years of her professional life in the hallways of 30 Rockefeller Center. This article is particularly interesting because it points out that the boys club that ran the ‘Today Show’ just assumed that everything would blow over once Operation Bambi was a kill.
The press might be bad for a week or two, but after the London Olympics, everything would return to rosy pink normal. Instead, the red ink bled profusely as women said “count me out!”
Now the plot thickens at ‘Today’, with New York Magazine reporting that NBC management reached out to CNN’s Anderson Cooper about replacing Matt Laurer. Double ouch.
US News asked this week in The ‘Top of the Morning’ Case for Closing the Gender Gap if a team of women executives would have dealt with the situation at Today a whole lot better than the boys club. Brian Stelter’s new book ‘Top of the Morning’ examines the Ann Curry firing, with the author telling us: “There’s a gender gap throughout television and it’s very pronounced in morning TV since these shows are mostly meant for women,” he says. “I just wonder, if there was a more even split, men and women in the control, whether they would think differently about how they treat their anchors.”
Stelter thinks the show wasn’t right for Curry, but agrees the ouster was a total debacle. Over at Today, Laurer axed the idea of Kathie Lee Gifford publishing her seven pages of signatures supporting Laurer.
3. Salon interviews Comedy Central’s newest starlet Amy Schumer, asking her if women comedians will ever be treated equally. Schumer’s 2012 Comedy Central special “Inside Amy Schumer” premieres on Comedy Central April 30.
Asked if she still gets queried about whether it’s hard to be a female comic — given the inherent assumption that women aren’t funny — Schumer says ‘yeah’ in every interview and she thinks the question comes from laziness.
The ‘Mostly Sex Stuff’ comic continues: “And while I’m sure there are some people who say that women aren’t funny, I don’t think most people do. I think those things are perpetuated by journalists, and I don’t actually run into it that much.”
Pressed Schumer adds: “I think it has something to do with the general aggression toward women, and it being pounded into people’s heads that it’s just not possible for women to be funny. Even though we’re living in the times we’re living in, there is still stigma with women in general. People want women to be in a certain place. And not everyone’s comfortable with a woman speaking openly and honestly. When I read Gloria Steinem quotes, I just think that we aren’t that far along, or much further along than when she was.”
The funny woman says that the gender stereotypes are a battle that doesn’t seem like it can be won. Her focus is using humor, changing one mind at a time.
4.Could voters possibly prefer women candidates? Are we dreaming? But PA’s own Democratic guberbatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz, is named in Molly Ball’s The Atlantic piece arguing that women are hot political candidates.
With Hillary Clinton being heckled at a rally in 2008 by men shouting “Iron my shirt!” we must be dreaming that the author is on point. It’s true that boys club political analysts like Chris Matthews are now saying that America wants to elect a woman president.
“Voters want change,” says Mike Shields, the chief of staff at the RNC. “A woman candidate personifies change just by being on the ballot.” adds Democratic pollster Andrew Myers. in these intolerably gridlocked times, “voters believe women are more likely to compromise and find common ground and solutions, and less likely to argue and triangulate for political advantage.”
Both consultants emphasize that women are harder to criticize than men. Sharp-edged attacks by male rivals — particularly in these critically divisive times by male rivals — conjure up images of hitting a girl.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) launched the idea of this week’s dinner between President Obama and 20 women senators. “I said, ‘As you put together your agenda for this term, if you want a bipartisan, core group of people to start moving legislation, a great way to start is the women senators,’” she said.