So the other day I saw this WSJ front page, and the thought I had immediately was, “Well, she certainly knows how to stand at the plate.” And I almost posted that, but then my threat receiver went off. I could see me getting it from the feminists on the one hand — “You mean, … for a girl’…” And yeah, I guess that’s what I did mean, so that was only going to lead to more trouble.
Then I’d get hit from another direction because somebody would say I was suggesting Ms. Kagan was a lesbian. Which would lead to a lot of “no I’m not, but what if I was; are you saying that would be bad” yadda yadda and I just didn’t want to go there. So, as happens with nine out of 10 ideas for blog posts, it got dropped.
Now, I see that the WSJ has gotten into hot water over the picture for that very reason (and yeah, I’m behind on this “news;” I just saw an old Drudge Tweet about it while looking for something about her views on the Bill of Rights, silly me):
A spokeswoman for the Wall Street Journal said today its cover art was not intended as innuendo about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s sexual orientation after the paper’s front-page use of an image of Kagan playing softball provoked a mixture of irritation and amusement from gay and lesbian advocates.
“It clearly is an allusion to her being gay. It’s just too easy a punch line,” said Cathy Renna, a former spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation who is now a consultant. “The question from a journalistic perspective is whether it’s a descriptive representation of who she might be as a judge. Have you ever seen a picture of Clarence Thomas bowling?”
The vintage of the image, released by the University of Chicago, was a particular source of questions in the context of persistent, public chatter about the nominee’s sexual orientation. This isn’t exactly a whispering campaign, as the question — no longer particularly scandalous — has made it to the Washington Post and widely-read websites. White House officials have denied, on background, that Kagan is a lesbian.
“I think it’s strange that you’d go back 17 years to dig up a photo of someone who’s one of the most photographed women in the world today,” said Jenna Lowenstein, communications director for the National Stonewall Democrats.
“Personally I think the newspaper, which happens to have the largest circulation of any in the U.S., might as well have gone with a headline that said, ‘Lesbian or switch-hitter?'” grumbled the Dallas Voice’s John Wright.
The Wall Street Journal’s sister papers in the News Corp. empire are famous for cheeky cover photographs and thinly-veiled innuendo, and the Journal appeared to cross into the same territory earlier this year when it inserted a picture of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger into a photo array accompanying an article on feminine-looking men.
But Journal officials ridiculed a question about the image, which also appeared among other photographs in the Times’s coverage of Kagan.
“If you turn the photo upside down, reverse the pixilation and simultaneously listen to Abbey Road backwards, while reading Roland Barthes, you will indeed find a very subtle hidden message,” said Journal spokeswoman Ashley Huston.
“I think your question is absurd,” said Journal Deputy Managing Editor Alan Murray in a separate email.
Oh, boy. All we need. Then I saw this from today, also brought to my attention by Drudge (who seems obsessed with the nominee’s sexuality):
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 16, 2010 The White House ripped CBS News on Thursday for publishing an online column by a blogger who made assertions about the sexual orientation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan, widely viewed as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court.
Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate staffer, wrote that President Obama would “please” much of his base by picking the “first openly gay justice.” An administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing personal matters, said Kagan is not a lesbian.
CBS initially refused to pull the posting, prompting Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director who is working with the administration on the high court vacancy, to say: “The fact that they’ve chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010.” She said the network was giving a platform to a blogger “with a history of plagiarism” who was “applying old stereotypes to single women with successful careers.”
Back to the photograph: Personally, I thought it was a flattering picture that put her in a positive light. Hey, not enough people know how to address the plate properly nowadays, including a lot of guys. So put this in the nominee’s plus column, far as I’m concerned. I’d pick her for my team.