Betsy Rothstein's fake trend piece about female reporters using their sexy Twitter pictures for evil would be completely troubling if it weren't riddled with an undercurrent of Internet trolling and mired in the fact that she couldn't find any experts to agree with her. This morning, Rothstein, who runs FishbowlDC, called out three female reporters for being too sexy for their own good on Twitter. Because "sexy" in journalism is an amorphous term, we've decided to borrow from our old pal Right Said Fred and give you more concrete examples why you shouldn't take Rothstein's sexist, hypocritical lesson in trolling seriously:
I'm Too Sexy for...
This Hypocrisy: Rothstein called out these three reporters for being too "provocative" with their Twitter pictures. "Washington has its own crop of would-be sexy females on the loose," Rothstein wrote. "They’re using provocative, sometimes sexy photographs of themselves for their Twitter accounts." Oh no. Have you seen the photos?
The New York Times' Ashley Parker
Too sexy for this vehicle?
The Los Angeles Times' Maeve Reston
Or this one?
And The Hill's Amie Parnes:
We don't see anything wrong or "provocative" with the above pictures (perhaps we don't find buses "sexy"), nor would your blogger post an intentionally hideous picture of himself (or expect anyone else to) for daily public consumption. But going by Rothstein's own faulty standards (we'll get to that later), she failed to include her own shoulder-baring twitter picture as part of her "sexy" shaming:
This Sexism: Only females came under Fishbowl's "sexy" microscope. And men noticed (no, not for that reason). "Rothstein’s post only accused women of spurring this 'sexy' avatar trend, I found her post to be a clear example of the objectification and double standards that have existed far too long surrounding women in the workforce," wrote The New York Observer's Hunter Walker, who now has opted for a sexier Twitter picture (with the help of a Tom Selleck torso) of himself to show Rothstein what a "provocative" picture might look like.
And we know a few male reporters (your blogger included) who have taken their liberties
with the cropping function of Twitter photo tool with showcasing their best side for public Twitter display.
This Accuracy: Another major problem with Rothstein's fake trend piece is that the experts she consulted didn't even agree with her. "He’s a former journalist with ABC News and CNN. While he said none of the pictures we showed him struck him as particularly 'bad' or necessarily overly 'sexually suggestive', he does see potential pitfalls," wrote Rothstein.
Further, "I think it’s unfair that women are judged on this. But my concern is, are they doing anything to undermine their credibility? For anyone in the reputation management business, that would be a great concern," said media expert Brad Phillips in Rothstein's report. Did you catch that "unfair" right in the beginning?
As for her other expert: "That’s what they have going for them. How sexy? Cleavage? Kate Upton sexy? Seriously…. unless it’s truly X-rated, I think it’s within bounds to strike a cute, perhaps sexy, pose. It sells," said media pundit Henry Jaffe, making it two-for-two on Rothstein experts who see nothing wrong with this supposed "trend," and aren't really on board with Rothstein's hypothesis that the three reporters' pictures above are too sexy for their jobs.
This Trolling: The brilliant thing for Rothstein, we suppose, is that it's gotten people talking and clicking. She's managed to get feminists irate, get some Washington blogs rolling, and hey, we're talking, too. Yes, we even discovered the word "slutzkreig". And this appropriately sarcastic piece of advice from Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan:
So let this be a warning to you, ladies: If you're going to write things and expect people to listen to you, you better do it from inside a paper bag or turtleneck. Or else no one will take you seriously. No offense.