New York Times Offers Feminist Lament as Their Mayoral Pick Loses Just Like 'Grating' Hillary Clinton

Conservative readers surely braced for this New York Times spin on Christine Quinn losing the mayor’s race in New York City: did sexism and “homophobia” ruin her chances? Jodi Kantor and Kate Taylor’s Thursday article was titled “In Quinn’s Loss, Questions About Role of Gender and Sexuality.”

“Her wife’s eyes were glassy with tears” were the last words. Quinn was undone by yes, “her close association with the plutocratic incumbent mayor,” but advisers thought she needed a “less naive attitude about the magnitude of the gender challenge she faced.” It all sounded very much like a feminist reporter’s complaints about Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2008:

Still, her supporters wonder: Why has New York, home of tough, talented women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Wintour, proven resistant to female candidates? And was it simply too much to expect the electorate to embrace a candidate who would be not just New York’s first female mayor, but its first openly gay one, too?

In interviews with allies and opponents, as well as members of the Quinn campaign team, not one person blamed her loss wholly, or even mostly, on gender.  But many of them also said that watching her candidacy was like seeing scenes from a depressingly familiar movie — a bad local remake of Clinton 2008.

Democratic voters who expressed unfavorable views of Ms. Quinn in New York Times/Siena College polls described her in follow-up interviews as “ambitious,” “petty,” “mean,” “bossy,” “self-interested,” “defensive,” “combative” and “argumentative.”

She was the target of an unusual level of visceral hatred, including a band of protesters who screamed at her on the street and interrupted her events.

Men, and some women, regularly called her voice grating.

“Nice lady, but if I have to listen to that voice for four years, I’ll die,” John A. Catsimatidis, a Republican candidate, said.

Sometimes voters said flatly that they did not like her because she is a lesbian. Others had difficulty articulating why they were put off by her.

“I don’t really like her,” said Scott Smith, 49, who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and works in construction, adding that she seemed “too masculine, I guess, not enough feminine.”

Critiques of Ms. Quinn’s physical attributes came from many corners, even the wealthy Upper East Side women who helped raise money for her mayoral bid. “Why can’t she dress better?’” they would ask Rachel Lavine, a Democratic state committeewoman who was on Ms. Quinn’s finance committee.

“I might think that St. John is not the end all and be all of fashion,” Ms. Lavine said, referring to the upscale clothing line favored by wealthy, older women. “But that’s what they’re saying. ‘Why isn’t she wearing a size two St. John’s dress?’ There’s that kind of constant commentary.”

Referring to Ms. Quinn’s rival Bill de Blasio, she said, “You don’t hear that about de Blasio — ‘Why can’t he buy better-looking suits?’ ”

Ms. Lavine said that on the occasions that she had tried to engage Ms. Quinn’s most strident opponents, the conversation often devolved into insults about Ms. Quinn’s appearance. She said they would call her “ugly” or “fat” or that her red hair made her look like a clown.

Kantor and Parker turned to famous feminist Gloria Steinem for her assessment on how it is that ultraliberal New York didn’t pick the lesbian: “Wherever there is more power, there is more opposition,” she said, adding, “If you’re tough enough to run New York City, you’re too tough to be considered acceptably feminine.”

The Times reporters lamented that “Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, only one has a female mayor — Annise D. Parker in Houston.” They did not mention that Parker is also openly homosexual – so if she can get elected in Texas, maybe Quinn’s problems are more personal.

A conservative might think it hilarious for the Times to ponder how a town so progressive could pick the white guy, but apparently the women are self-loathing: “Democratic women rejected her, voting for Mr. de Blasio instead, by more than two to one.”

Just below that piece, columnist Michael Powell (a former reporter for The Washington Post as well as the Times) mocked his own newspaper picking losers like Quinn: "The Nation magazine endorsed Mr. de Blasio. As a former operative for Andrew M. Cuomo and Hillary Rodham Clinton, he may not be [the late Swedish socialist prime minister] Olof Palme reincarnated. But The Nation picked a winner while this newspaper’s editorial page, and the tabloids’, picked losers."

Powell also notably said the Republican had almost zero chance after he locked up about the same number of votes as four percent of the Democratic field: "Mr. Lhota’s path to victory runs up a Himalayan rock face. His old boss, Rudolph W. Giuliani, won 20 years ago in this deeply Democratic city, and that could give Mr. Lhota hope. I could say this makes the temple-throbbing Mr. Giuliani a winner, except that to do so would cause my fingers to cramp up."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis