Exposing the Liberalism of Trendy Women’s Publications

In the September 2003 issue of Elle magazine, there was a lengthy article on HUMAN EVENTS columnist Ann Coulter and her campus activism. Not surprisingly, the author of the article gave an inaccurate picture of the demand by students for Coulter to lecture on campuses across the nation. As program director of the Luce Policy Institute, I get dozens of requests each semester from students anxious to bring Coulter to their campus. The one student Elle mentioned said Coulter is “too extreme to be persuasive.” Yet Ann Coulter is by far our most requested speaker. Even though the Luce Policy Institute is the leading organization sending her to campuses, the Elle reporter never asked our point of view. Elle also didn’t publish our letter to the editor correcting its misleading article. One could argue that the reporter at Elle just wasn’t aware of the Luce Policy Institute. However, if you search for “Ann Coulter” and “college speakers” on Google, the Institute’s website comes right up, followed by links to various campus newspapers that covered Ann Coulter’s Luce-sponsored lectures. The more obvious explanation is that Elle wasn’t looking to publish a balanced article on Ann Coulter, but instead a one-sided harangue that questions her credibility and popularity. After reading Myrna Blyth’s new book, Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America, I concluded that not only did Elle purposefully ignore the positive opinions on Coulter, but they probably discussed how to do so over Cobb salads at the trendy Michael’s restaurant in New York City. Spin Sisters gives readers an insider’s view (à la Bernie Goldberg, author of the liberal media exposé Bias) of the–”members of the female media elite, a Girls’ Club of editors, producers, print and television journalists with similar attitudes and opinions who influence the way millions of American women think and feel about their lives, their world, and themselves.” From Katie to Cosmo, Diane to Dateline, Blyth doesn’t mince words and places blame squarely on the women at the top. Until the summer of 2003, most of the Girls’ Club thought that Blyth was one of them. She was executive director of Family Circle, then editor-in-chief of Ladies’ Home Journal and publishing director of More magazine. Part penance, part Bias, Spin Sisters is a cathartic read for women who have flipped through the major women’s magazines with annoyance and, more often, disgust over the obsession with liberal causes and celebrities. In addition to her own experience, Blyth clearly did her research on the “incestuous” nature of the Girls’ Club and their quest to sell magazines and get ratings. At the heart of their game are the scare tactics the media uses to grab its audience. Blyth even indicts herself as a willing participant in promoting “The Female Fear Factor.” Whether it’s “The Poison That Hid in Our Home,” (Redbook), mattresses akin to kerosene (Good Morning America), “killer celery,”(Good Housekeeping) or “5 Down-There Diseases You Don’t Know About” (Glamour) women are led to believe that the world is a stressful and frightening place. Blyth writes, “Often, a hint of conspiracy is added (’100 Urgent Health Risks Doctors Don’t Tell You About’) to ratchet up the fear factor and make victims–sometimes just being a woman makes you a victim–even more appealing to readers.” Sound familiar? At every chance, the Feminist Majority, NOW and other feminist groups tell women they are oppressed victims of a patriarchal society with their “rights” at risk with every stroke of George W. Bush’s pen. Women in the media parrot these leftist views with relentless determination. In tandem with the left, the media invokes fear and ignorance of the facts in order to paint corporations as the enemy and big government as the remedy–from government-run health care initiatives to FDA task forces to save you from “killer celery.” In a recent interview, I asked Myrna Blyth her thoughts on why both women in the media and liberals use the victim mentality to sell their products and ideas. She told me, “Liberals have always needed those they picture as victims to enact their policies. Liberals tend to see the world, victim first because it helps them define themselves and other liberals as such obviously caring people. . . . Media, in turn loves simple stories, and there is no simpler story than victim vs. villain.” It’s no secret who the victims and villains are when women in the media tackle political issues. Abortion is high on their list. During the 2000 presidential election, articles in major women’s magazines included “Losing the Right to Choose,” (Glamour) “On My Mind: Why You Need to Vote,” (Cosmopolitan)–a glowing endorsement of Al Gore, and “Abortion Rights–You Could Lose Yours,” (Glamour). These were written by policy “experts” Lucy Liu (actress), Christie Brinkley (model) and Julianne Moore (actress), respectively. Following the election, Glamour published the not-so-subtle diatribe, “Karenna Gore Schiff’s Guide to Not Getting Bush-Whacked,” which gave advice on making “George W.’s term a lot less scary.” No sour grapes here. Blyth writes, “But whether in their editorials or in between the lines of their feature stories, they offer you only one opinion, about any and all social and political issues.” Since a majority of women identify themselves as conservative, the Girls’ Club isn’t ready to reveal their liberal bias. Criticism of Blyth’s explosive book has been predictably vicious. Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Kate White calls her book “truly pathetic” and “sad.” Ellen Levine, editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping, said that Blyth has “Ann Coulter envy.” (Who doesn’t?) Susan Ungaro, editor-in-chief of Family Circle said, “I’m just surprised Myrna is biting the hand that fed her for all these years.” Judging by the insults lobbed at Bernie Goldberg, Ann Coulter and other media critics, there is one definitive statement that can be made for Myrna Blyth’s Spin Sisters–every word must be true.

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