Election 2020

The New York Times Just Made an Embarrassing Error

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

A painful error made by the New York Times wasn’t caught before publication. In her opinion piece titled, “No Wrist Corsages, Please,” opinion columnist Maureen Dowd spoke of the prospect of Joe Biden picking a woman as a running mate, recalling back to 1984, when Geraldine Ferraro was selected by Walter Mondale to be his running mate.

On the cusp of Joe Biden teaming up with a woman, I am casting back to my time covering the first woman who was a serious contender for veep.

The feminist fairy tale — which began with women crying and popping champagne on the convention floor in San Francisco in 1984 — had a sad ending. Cinderella with ashes in her mouth.

It’s hard to fathom, but it has been 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket. To use Geraldine Ferraro’s favorite expression, “Gimme a break!”

For real? The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maureen Dowd actually forgot that the last time a man and woman ran together on the Democratic Party ticket was actually 2016? Not only that, but the woman (who’s name is Hillary Clinton, in case Dowd forgot) actually topped the ticket.

I know liberals would like to forget 2016, but how do you forget such a detail? It’s not like Dowd didn’t cover the 2016 election. But perhaps the worst thing about this is that this glaring false fact never got flagged during editing. How many eyes saw it before it was published?

The article was not only published with this ridiculously false claim, but the New York Times even tweeted out the article, highlighting the false quote:

Apparently, it took the New York Times being called out on social media for them to be reminded of the fact that it was only four years ago that a man and woman ran together on the Democratic Party ticket. Only then was the article updated to read, “It’s hard to fathom, but it took another 36 years for a man to choose to put a woman on the Democratic ticket with him,” and for a correction disclaimer to be added to the article:

Correction: Aug. 8, 2020

An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated the history of the Democratic ticket. It has been 36 years since a man chose a woman to run as his vice-president on the Democratic ticket, not 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket.

The correction makes the article more accurate, but the original incorrect sentence served as the foundation of the entire article, in which Dowd reflected on the complexities and challenges of having a woman running on the Democratic ticket, and how that influenced media coverage.

And yet, in the very same piece, Dowd brings up the 2016 election, writing, “Ferraro walked the same tightrope that tripped up Hillary Clinton when she wondered if she should wheel around in that debate and tell the creeping Donald Trump to scram.”

But perhaps the worse thing about Dowd’s article is that she’s setting up a scenario where whoever is picked by Biden will be unfairly targeted by the Trump campaign.

We don’t know whom Biden will choose but we do know the sort of hell she will endure at the hands of Team Trump. Even after the #MeToo revolution, even with women deciding this election, have the undercurrents of sexism in America changed so much? Hollywood, after all, only just began forking over major budgets to women directors, after years of absurdly stereotyping them.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, Kellyanne Conway, Kayleigh McEnany, Lara Trump and Jeanine Pirro — the Fox Force Five of retrograde Trumpworld — will have the knives out. Conservatives will undermine the veep candidate with stereotypes. She’s bitchy. She’s a nag. She’s aggressive. She’s ambitious. Who’s wearing the pants here, anyhow?

No mention is made of the way Democrats treated Sarah Palin after she was picked by John McCain to be his running mate. There was a small controversy surrounding Barack Obama saying, “You can put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig,” which some believe was in reference to Palin. The Obama campaign denied this, of course, but it nevertheless destroys Dowd’s premise that a woman on the ticket of either major party changes the dynamics of the race.

Certain statements are bound to result in accusations of sexism. A story on wardrobe choices and hairstyles on a woman candidate inevitably is met with the accusation of sexism because such articles wouldn’t be written about male candidates. But in 2008, the media and the Democratic Party united in their efforts to present Sarah Palin as a dumb former beauty pageant contestant, who, despite having more executive experience than Barack Obama, was unfit to be the running mate of septuagenarian John McCain. Palin was routinely mocked by the media, and Tina Fey’s unflattering portrayal of Palin on Saturday Night Live! had a huge impact on the public’s perception of her.

Dowd herself even wrote, “Caribou Barbie is one nutty puppy,” in reference to Palin in 2009. Eleven years later, she’s lamenting that whoever is picked by Biden will be the target of “sexist” attacks by the Trump campaign. That’s rich.

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Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trumpand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis