Foreign Affairs, the Economist, and certainly U.S.News & World Report are titles you'd expect to see at the two State Department newsstands visited by the public, employees, and their kids, but Playboy and Penthouse? Yikes! Or so thought Condoleezza Rice a while back when she began receiving briefings in Foggy Bottom before her confirmation hearings as secretary of state. Alerted by an aide that the skin magazines, partially clad in brown paper covers, were placed beside newsmagazines and close to candy, nuts, and stuffed animals, she said, "I want them out."
A few weeks later, when she took over from Colin Powell, the eviction began. "The secretary wanted them gone immediately," says senior adviser Jim Wilkinson." She didn't understand how a department that claimed to fight for the rights of women worldwide could sell pornography that degrades women." And, he adds, the magazines "could be seen as contributing to a hostile work environment." He teamed with State's internal manager and several State women who had been campaigning against the publications but had gotten nowhere. Now that they have succeeded, some of those women are eyeing other lad mags like Maxim and FHM. But State News's Richard Williams isn't listening. It was no problem banning the XXX fare: It didn't move very fast. "But Maxim," he says, "is a bestseller."