A headline in USA Today on Monday worried, "Elections are likely to trim number of women in Congress." It wasn't until the 15th paragraph of Susan Page's story that the numerous female Republican candidates running in the midterm elections were mentioned.
Instead, the Washington Bureau Chief explained, "The prospects for female congressional candidates have been hurt by a combination of a tough political landscape for Democrats — women in Congress are disproportionately Democratic— and the nation's economic troubles. Hard times historically have made voters more risk-averse and less willing to consider voting for female candidates." [Emphasis added.]
In an accompanying graph, Senator Barbara Boxer in California was listed as an example of a female who could be defeated. The only problem? Boxer's opponent is Republican Carly Fiorina, a woman. [H/T Hot Air.]
When the journalist finally did get to the Republican females running, she minimized several of them in a single paragraph:
In Nevada, former state legislator Sharron Angle, a darling of the Tea Party movement, is challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In California, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is in a close race against Sen. Barbara Boxer. Other competitive Republican Senate candidates include former state attorney general Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon in Connecticut.
Additionally, this important point is also buried: "Overall, 47 Republican and 91 Democratic women are on the ballot for the House, along with six Republicans and nine Democratic women for the Senate. Both totals set records."
Page immediately undermined such a conclusion:
Those statistics don't tell the whole story, however. A dozen incumbent women in the House are in tough races, as are four of the female senators on the ballot this year. Many of the women who aren't incumbents are running in districts so dominated by the other party that they are all but certain to lose.
Page's article only covered congressional races. Republican women running for governor, such as Susana Martinez in New Mexico, Nikki Haley in South Carolina and Meg Whitman in California, were ignored.
This storyline has spread to other media outlets. On Wednesday's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos repeated, "But, in a twist, this election could actually be the first in three decades that causes the number of women in Washington to go down."