Mark Liebovich just posted a profile on Nancy Pelosi at the New York Times and it is really nasty. I mean, Ms. Pelosi received no love for agreeing to be interviewed. I’m not saying that Liebovich smeared her (exactly) or misrepresented the facts. Ms. Pelosi does struggle as a public speaker. And I’m sure Liebovich quoted her correctly. But let’s look at the snark…
Ms. Pelosi teeters on a fine line: between the need to say what Democrats plan to do if they win control of the House and the danger of speaking too soon. She begins some sentences with “when we win” and others with “if we win.” Sometimes she will tack on a qualifier (“no matter who wins this election”) or caveat (“that’s if the election were held today”)…
After November, she hopes — or expects — to assume that mantle, depending on what conjunction she happens to be using…
Ms. Pelosi can struggle at times to give the air of the gravitas that powerful women like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice do, both friends and adversaries say. She can appear tentative and overscripted in interviews, with a tight smile and large, expressive eyes than can leave an impression of nervousness.
“Her public speaking style is not good,” said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts…
The view of Ms. Pelosi as a deficient spokeswoman for her party was buttressed during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier this month, which centered largely on what Democrats would do if they won the House. Political insiders of both parties judged her performance as shaky, uncommanding and defensive…
Asked why she makes such a popular Democratic bogyman, or bogywoman, Ms. Pelosi shrugged, smirked and, finally, smiled.
“I am an Italian-American Catholic grandmother,” she said, “very traditional in terms of values.”
She repeated this three times, as if to emphasize that her self-image was at odds with more common descriptors, like “San Francisco liberal.”
…In the course of two interviews, Ms. Pelosi repeated herself frequently, even by the hyper-repetitious standards of politicians:
…She repeated Jesse Jackson-like alliterative sound bites in halting un-Jackson-like cadences. Republicans, she said, “are engaging in deluge and desperation,” while her Democratic caucus “is a great collection of idealism, intellect and” — she paused while trying to summon the third “i” — “integrity.”
In the interest of fairness, Liebovich also had many flattering things to say about Pelosi. But he made sure to add this exchange.
Ms. Pelosi nodded vigorously when asked if she was friends with Representative Tom DeLay, whom she had just seconds earlier described as “corrupt.” She went on to catalog the work the two had done together in Congress. And then Ms. Pelosi affirmed, once again, how “corrupt” her friend Mr. DeLay was.
I’m the first to admit that telling reporters that you have worked with and are friends with corrupt politicans is a curious thing to do. It’s hard to understand why Pelosi would consider a character like DeLay to be a friend and then go around calling him a crook. But, you know, this little paragraph is all part of a larger hatchet job, which even includes a less than flattering photo.
I don’t understand why the New York Times maintains its reputation for being a liberal newspaper. This article comes across as an adversarial piece. The reporter takes care to point out flaws in Pelosi’s presentation to him during the interview. He mocks her attempts at alliteration. That’s a little outside the norm for what even I expect from a NYT’s reporter. An openly partisan reporter? Sure…that comes with the territory.
I think this kind of reporting crosses a line. It’s true that Pelosi is a less than ideal public speaker and she is not great at giving interviews, and that is worth reporting. But, not this way. Not from the New York Times. Liebovich also made sure to include talk about her sagging chin and her unfamiliarity with french fries.
As the prospect of a Democratic majority gains credibility and Ms. Pelosi is more visible, she is also subjected to the speculation and analysis about her hair, makeup and clothes that any woman positioned for such a big job often must endure.
“I hear them say on TV that I’ve had face-lifts,” said Ms. Pelosi, 66, who added that she had never had one. “I heard one woman say I’ve had a face-lift, but it looks terrible.”
She shook her head and said, “Did you ever think that those two things cancel themselves out?”
…”I had a hamburger last night and it was my breakfast, lunch and dinner,” she said last week. “And I had these strange things. I realized they were French fries.” She made quick spiraling gestures with her fingers to show what they looked like.
It was apparent that she was not familiar with curly fries.
There are more snide remarks in the column than I have picked out, and many quotes from Republican operatives that run her down for being a ‘prehistoric liberal’ or talk of ‘San Francisco’s Contract with America’. I don’t think it was a fair and balanced piece. Maybe this is just an indignity that women must endure when then endeavor to be taken seriously. Maybe it is a hostility to liberals. Maybe Liebovitz just doesn’t like her personality or her style. Whatever it is, I don’t care for this style of reporting in the Grey Lady. It should be beneath them.