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Sometimes A Pantsuit Is Just A Pantsuit

The NYT's public editor Clark Hoyt went searching for sexism in the paper's coverage of Hillary Clinton and he says he found it. But I have to quibble with one of his search terms: along with "shrill," "strident," and "giggle," he believes "pantsuit" is a word that "might indicate sexism." So does one of the people he consulted in his search--Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania:

Jamieson noted the occasional “improbably blue pantsuit” or “no-nonsense pantsuit,” and said such terms would never be used to describe a man’s clothing.

But it's not as if the Times didn't occasionally comment on Obama's clothing throughout the campaign. A brief sampling:

       Mr. Obama’s sleeves were rolled up, his suit jacket left behind stage. -- April 28, 2008

Senator Barack Obama hops up to the stage in that hip-mod gray suit of his, clapping along with the audience on Friday, clapping for himself, clapping for this moment. He gazes at 1,200 people in overcoats and woolen hats and snow boots and asks for a show of hands. -- January 5, 2008

Wearing a trim dark suit and a deep purple tie, Mr. Obama stands in an airy, cream-walled room and strolls slowly toward the camera, speaking directly into the lens.-- September 20, 20087

I agree that there was some sexism in the coverage of Hillary Clinton. But I don't think that describing her preference for pantsuits is evidence of that.

P.S. Now, calling her Nixon In a Pantsuit is another matter. . . .

--Jason Zengerle