Stay classy Sun-Times

Palin spoke in a black leather jacket and mini-skirt with her brunette hair hanging down, and a mammoth American flag behind her.

Excuse me Sun-Times, but that is incorrect. I also took note of Governor Palin’s outfit and as you can see, my description was a bit different:

Now, I can understand that Mr. Pallasch, the reporter who wrote this piece, might not be too well-versed in women’s fashions. But surely even the most clueless of men knows the difference between a miniskirt and a skirt that is knee-length?

But that’s not even the point, is it?

The point is that it is blatantly sexist to even mention what Governor Palin was wearing. If this was a male politician, would we have gotten a description of his suit and tie? Also, what relevance does her outfit and hairstyle have to what she says?

By the way, in my review of the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the event, I didn’t find a single mention of Sarah Palin’s physical appearance. That’s the way it should be.

UPDATE: I’m told by the Sun-Times that a female copy editor saw the reference to a mini-skirt and removed the “mini” part from the print version which, as we now know, also later happened in the online version. Questions that remain are:

1. Would a male copy editor have left it in?

2. What kind of editing process does the online version of a story go through and why wasn’t a similar edit made there?


  1. Anonymous May 13, 2010

    Amen. I did notice that the Trib website on Wednesday chose a photo that made Palin look goofy. Palin is goofy in many ways, but she has long gotten a raw, sexist deal from the media. The media looks for every opportunity to go after her like their job now is to vet her for gaffes. The Palin-haters just can’t see it, so deep in their rage that has been ginned up from just such coverage. Also: Stop making fun of her accent, media people. I come from Minnesota and that’s the way people talk there, too (there is actually a linguistic connection from Minn. to Palin’s part of Alaska). It doesn’t make her stupid anymore than a Chicago accent makes someone stupid. In “Fargo,” it was endearing. Now it’s a sign of stupidity?

  2. Anna Tarkov May 13, 2010

    Steve, thanks so much for commenting. I had a feeling you would concur. By the way, I am told that Abdon is prone to wearing 3-piece suits i.e. he is a very formal dresser. Perhaps that explains why he thought a knee-length skirt was a mini. Nevertheless, like my friend Scott said, the line should have died on the copy desk:

  3. Anonymous May 13, 2010

    My dislike of the Sun-Times piece isn’t political — it’s practical and professional. Is this supposed to be a column, straight article, blog post, something in between? If this were printed in paper, where would (did) it run? Either way, it’s just a poorly written and badly constructed piece (in my humble opinion). Also, I agree that the description of her clothing is misplaced and awkward. But I don’t think it’s necessarily sexist. Just unnecessary. Describing a person’s look or dress is a typical way or relating to readers (or listeners, in NPR’s world) how a subject is and acts in the moment. It gives a sense of place. However, in this instance, it doesn’t provide anything other than cheap glamour that doesn’t fit with the rest of the piece. Were this a personality profile of Palin while she hunts moose in Alaska, how she’s dressed would be appropriate. Similarly, how she presents herself at work, say, in a cabinet meeting (when she was governor, that is) would be appropriate. But in this instance, the clothing description does not fit with the rest of the piece, which is more a critique than anything substantive. So while I wave my finger at the Sun-Times editors for this, I wave it for different reasons. They weren’t being sexist or part of the liberal media conspiracy (in my humble opinion). They just weren’t attentive.

  4. Anonymous May 13, 2010

    The print edition (at least in Springfield) cut “mini” from the article. Maybe someone along the editing track compared the photo with the text of the story.

  5. Anonymous May 13, 2010

    Newspaper reporting EMBARRASSES me anymore. I get that everyone’s short staffed and copy editors especially are SO strapped for resources, but God. I can’t even read newspapers anymore. Especially the Sun-Times. What a load of trash.

  6. Anna Tarkov May 13, 2010

    I think there is still some good content in the Sun-Times and Abdon has written good stuff in the past as well. I hope that my highlighting of an example that showed the paper in a bad light wasn’t read as a wholesale condemnation of it.

  7. Anonymous May 14, 2010

    The black leather jacket is a valid issue because of its fascistic overtones, and would be for a male politician, too. Is this the same one:

  8. Anonymous May 14, 2010

    Hi, Anna — Let me just throw this out … I also notice a double-standard applied to women in some news coverage (I remember getting upset with every Hillary Clinton story that focused on her pantsuit or other clothing). However, noting that Sarah Palin was wearing a black leather jacket doesn’t seem all that weird to me. It’s not every day that we see a politician, especially a very socially conservative politician, dressed in a trendy black leather jacket. I mean contrast her to, say, Mike Huckabee or whoever. I think she wears that jacket for a reason, to make a statement about how she is supposedly something new and different. So noting that she was wearing a black leather jacket is an interesting detail, I think. I agree with you, though, on the alleged mini-skirt — that was not a mini-skirt; it was more of an office skirt. About the hair, S.P. herself once noted that her “brand” is “hair-up” (OK, I got that from the book “Game Change”) so it could be argued that showing up at the event with her hair down also is a conscious statement by Ms. Palin. I’m just saying there is another way of looking at this stuff.
    Also, don’t forget that the media also has written about male politicians’ clothes — I remember reading about Obama’s suits, and a lot was made of the dorky jeans he wore to throw out that first MLB pitch. So writers have focused on the men, too.

  9. Anna Tarkov May 14, 2010

    Jack, yes, that looks like the same jacket. But isn’t claiming fascistic overtones a bit much? In doing that, aren’t you going into Glenn Beck territory?

  10. Anna Tarkov May 14, 2010

    Stephanie, it’s true that male politicians’ wardrobes are also talked about at times. The same point was made by Whet Moser, the Chicago Reader’s Web Editor. If you read my comment over there, you’ll see how I responded:

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