My Blood Runs Cold: Where Was the Outrage Over Scott Brown In Cosmo?

Nisha Chittal

Scott Brown has just been elected to the United States Senate. Oh, also, he posed nude in Cosmo in 1982. Had a woman candidate done the same, it would have cost her the election.

This article was originally published at Mediaite and is reprinted with permission from the author.

By now you’ve heard: Scott Brown, the Lt. Colonel of the Army National Guard, has just been elected to the United States Senate. Oh, also, he posed nude in Cosmo in 1982. And now that this campaign is over, I have to wonder – where was the outrage?

I have yet to find any. But had a woman candidate done the same, it would have cost her the election. No female politician could hope to make it out of a scandal like that.

Michelle Obama faces daily scrutiny from the media on every one of her wardrobe choices. It’s a national controversy every time she bares her arms – imagine if she’d posed even more bare! (I can practically hear Rush Limbaugh’s tirade already).

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Sarah Palin’s background in beauty pageants
was constantly mocked during the 2008 campaign, and remains another
shot to be aimed at her, another reason why she is taken less seriously
as a candidate. “Before Gov. Sarah Palin came flying in from the wilds
of Alaska for the Republican convention in St. Paul, there was a lot of
sniggering in media rooms and satellite trucks about her beauty queen
looks and rustic hobbies, and the suggestion that she was better suited
to be a calendar model for a local auto body shop than a holder of the
second-highest office in the land,” wrote David Carr in the New York Times in 2008.

She was derided as a dumb beauty queen, but he’s praised as a “hunk.”

Monday night on Fox, the Washington Post’s Sally Quinn said that Brown is a “hunk and the fact that he posed “semi-nude” actually “gave him a huge advantage in terms of the public recognition” and that “It made him a recognizable public figure, which he was not before. A lot of women think he’s really cute.”

Gawker has been using Brown’s centerfold image since September.
Wonkette dug up the photo in 2007 and it has been circulating in the
media ever since. And yet, this man has just been elected to the United
States Senate – the fact that he took his clothes off for a magazine
didn’t hurt his race one bit, and the media is at fault for brushing it
off because he’s a man.

It’s a sharp contrast from how the public – and the media – would
have reacted had a woman candidate been in the same situation. One can
only imagine how harshly a woman would be judged in the outpouring of
blog posts and media coverage after a woman politician’s nude photos
were discovered: She’s promiscuous! She’s a slut! She must be
hiding other skeletons in her closet! And probably most importantly:
the media and blogosphere would no doubt question her very
qualifications and fitness for public office.

“Would Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin even be on their town councils
if they had posed nude for a men’s magazine? Of course not- the media
frenzy would have sunk them, but the press is collectively giggling
over Scott Brown’s centerfold,” said Patricia Murphy, Capitol Hill
Bureau Chief of Politics Daily.

“But maybe Scott Brown’s success will open the door for Stormy Daniels to be taken more seriously? If it doesn’t disqualify him, it shouldn’t disqualify anyone,” she added.

Remember when Hillary Clinton showed the tiniest bit of cleavage and the media let loose? Even the Washington Post wrote a lengthy essay debating the meaning of the cleavage and what it said about Hillary’s image – and all she did was wear a low-cut top. And Clinton’s pantsuits were the butt of countless jokes on the 2008 campaign trail — the Washington Post said she was “dressed like a solar flare.”

“Google “Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits” and the thousands of pages
that come up are an amalgamation of gentle mockery, a modicum of
flattery and all-out derision,” the LA Times declared in September 2008.

It’s appalling that the media hasn’t shown more outrage over the now
Senator-elect Scott Brown’s actions, where we most certainly know they
would do so had it been a woman. But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised –
this kind of sexism has long been rampant in our media system. Sarah
Palin’s background in beauty pageants is routinely mocked. And yet,
these women faced severe criticism for these choices despite the fact
that none did anything as drastic as posing nude in a national women’s

Where a woman’s very morals and character would be questioned in
this situation, Scott Brown is getting a free pass from the media, and
the voters that just elected him. He’s a “hunk,” his behavior was
charmingly “footloose and carefree.”
And meanwhile WaPo’s Quinn lavishes Brown with praise, claiming that
posing in Cosmo gave him a huge advantage — you know, because Brown is
a “hunk.”

Thanks for standing up for women candidates, Washington Post and the rest of the media. Thanks for nothing.

News Politics

Cruz Calls for Surveillance of ‘Muslim Neighborhoods’ in Wake of Brussels Attack

Ally Boguhn

"[D]emonizing all Muslims is a misguided and counterproductive response to the terrorist threat posed by those motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam," Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in response to Cruz’s statement.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks on Brussels, presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggested that as president he would “patrol and secure” U.S. Muslim communities.

“We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here. We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” Cruz said in a statement responding to terrorist attacks in Belgium’s capital city that left at least 30 dead and 230 wounded.

In response to criticism of his plan, Cruz later asserted during an interview on CNN, “That does not mean targeting Muslims. It means targeting radical Islamic terrorism.”

Cruz didn’t elaborate on how he recommends police officials distinguish between Muslims and radical Islamic terrorists, but he did say to host Anderson Cooper, “If you have a neighborhood where there’s a high level of gang activity, the way to prevent it is you increase the law enforcement presence there and you target the gang members to get them off the streets …. I’m talking about any area where there is a higher incidence of radical Islamic terrorism.”

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Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, condemned Cruz’s reaction in a Tuesday statement, saying, “demonizing all Muslims is a misguided and counterproductive response to the terrorist threat posed by those motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam.”

“Ordering special patrols of Muslim neighborhoods will almost certainly create an adversarial relationship between law enforcement and the communities they have sworn to protect, making those communities more vulnerable, more frightened, and often less willing to help,” Greenblatt continued.

“Profiling people based on their religion or race is blatantly unconstitutional and violates the guarantee of religious protection and religious freedom,” Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) national-security project, told the Nation. “One way to look at it is to replace the word ‘Muslim’ with ‘Jewish,’ ‘Christian,’ ‘African American,’ or ‘Latino.’ What’s wrong in one context is wrong in others.”

During his appearance on CNN, Cruz cited what he deemed a “successful program” implemented under former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, allowing New York Police Department (NYPD) officers to monitor Muslims in the city. However, as the Huffington Post reported, New York’s program was roundly unsuccessful in identifying any terrorist threats:

The GOP presidential hopeful blamed Bloomberg’s successor, Bill de Blasio, for shuttering the program. According to The Associated Press, however, the department “never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation” in the six years that it eavesdropped on conversations.

Critics of profiling based on race, ethnicity, and religion say that these programs may interfere with the rights of those they target. The NYPD’s surveillance program increased stigma against Muslims, created fear among those living in targeted communities, damaged relationships between Muslims and the police, and silenced free speech, according to an American Civil Liberties Union fact sheet.

Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, warned in an interview with Vox that Cruz’s plan could go even further than the NYPD’s surveillance program.

“This goes light-years beyond that. Cruz is talking about police ‘securing’—what does that mean? Does that mean checkpoints on every corner? Does that mean papers on every street?” Hooper told the publication. “To me, this sounds like an armed occupation of Muslim neighborhoods.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: New Lies From Fiorina, Trump’s Wife Is ‘Into’ Women’s Health

Emily Crockett

The biggest campaign news on reproductive rights this week continued to be Carly Fiorina, who doubled down on the biggest lie she has told so far.

The biggest campaign news on reproductive rights this week continued to be Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina Repeated Her Biggest Lie of All 

Last week, we went over how Fiorina has doubled and tripled down on her description of a nonexistent scene from one of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos attacking Planned Parenthood.

“Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” Fiorina said at the second GOP debate.

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This week on NBC’s Meet the Press, Fiorina defended the part of her description that was the least factually defensible.

“That scene absolutely does exist, and that voice saying what I said they were saying—‘We’re gonna keep it alive to harvest its brain’—exists as well,” Fiorina said.

This is categorically untrue. There is no voice, or any other source or quote, saying anything of the kind in the videos created and released by CMP, a front group that has worked closely with Republican legislators.

One conservative media report claimed that Planned Parenthood’s “media allies” are lying, and that the video Fiorina referenced does in fact exist.

The truth is that while there is a CMP video that Fiorina seems to be referring to, she is describing a scene in it that does not exist—namely, the made-up scene in which somebody says a fetus has to be kept alive to harvest its brain.

It’s true that the video contains a stock image of a “kicking” fetus that appears to have a pulse. It also contains a first-person narrative, with no video to back it up, of harvesting a fetal brain. But the rest is fiction. Fiorina’s description makes it sound like someone from CMP captured undercover video of Planned Parenthood doctors dissecting a still-living fetus, and intentionally kept it alive for organ harvesting. The image is as barbaric as it is fictional.

What’s more, the full video of the “kicking” fetus was released this week. It comes from an anti-choice image library, and it’s almost certainly not an abortion, according to medical experts. It was probably filmed illegally, and possibly not even in America or in the past decade.

Either way, it wasn’t taken by CMP, and there’s no evidence that it was taken at a Planned Parenthood facility.

A person could have watched CMP’s misleading video and mistakenly assumed that the footage was taken at Planned Parenthood, so Fiorina could perhaps be forgiven for the first half of her quote. But the same simply cannot be said for the “keep it alive” part of her quote, which has no basis in fact and which Fiorina is repeating as true regardless.

…and Another Lie for Good Measure 

As if that weren’t enough, Fiorina seems to have made misleading statements about whether Planned Parenthood has denied allegations of illegal activity.

“Why is it Planned Parenthood cannot and will not deny late-term abortions are being performed for the purposes of obtaining brains and other body parts?” she said Friday at a town hall in South Carolina. “Because it’s happening. It’s happening.”

On Fox News Wednesday, Fiorina said: “Up until this point in time, not only am I not lying, but Planned Parenthood has not, will not, cannot deny that this is happening because it is.”

As it happens, Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest made a similar-sounding claim at a recent House hearing. Planned Parenthood has repeatedly and categorically said that the claims in the CMP videos aren’t true.

Just in case that wasn’t clear, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens sent Fiorina a letter on Friday:

Several times this week, you have claimed that Planned Parenthood has not denied your baseless, outrageous, and totally false claims about “harvesting” body parts of fetuses for sale. Wednesday night, you said that Planned Parenthood “has not, will not, and cannot deny that this is happening, because it is.”

This statement is completely false.

Planned Parenthood has been clear and unequivocal that these claims are untrue. In fact, we have, can, and will continue to say that this is untrue – and have said so to you directly. In letters to you over the past two weeks and in public statements for the last months, we have said that these claims are false, but you continue to say otherwise.

In other news…

Trump Says His Wife Is Into “Women’s Health Issues”

Trump’s daughter Ivanka has been seen more often on the campaign trail than his wife, Melania, and the media has taken notice. Responding to a question about whether his fourth wife would be seen more often, Donald Trump said he thought she “very much” would.

He added: “She’s very much into the whole women’s health issues.”

It’s not clear what Trump meant by that—whether or not Melania supports reproductive rights, and how her interest in the issue might be used to help sway mostly anti-choice Republican voters.

Trump has been criticized by the Republican establishment for having held pro-choice views, and he recently acknowledged that Planned Parenthood has “positive” sides to its work. But it hasn’t seemed to hurt him so far.

Cruz Is Getting Ignored by Republican Leadership

Ted Cruz has made his outspoken, virulent criticism of Planned Parenthood, and of Republican leadership, a central part of his 2016 campaign appeal.

But in the Senate, Burgess Everett reports at Politico, Cruz’s Republican colleagues are getting tired of his game. They denied him several routine procedural chances to rock the boat on a vote to fund both the government and Planned Parenthood.

“Republicans have grown tired of Cruz pushing proposals that he knows McConnell and other Republicans will never back, like defunding Planned Parenthood in a spending bill, then criticizing McConnell for not taking up the plan even as he uses the fight to bolster his presidential campaign as Washington’s consummate outsider,” Everett writes.

Rubio: Republican Establishment “Never Even Tried” to Win Planned Parenthood Debate

Marco Rubio told NPR this week that the Republican Party “never even tried” to “make the case to the American people over a sustained period of time” that Planned Parenthood needed to be defunded.

“They didn’t think they could win the public debate, and so they never even tried,” Rubio said. “If [Obama] ultimately vetoes it, if ultimately we don’t have the votes, that’s one thing. But to basically wave the white flag weeks in advance…that is inexplicable.”

Given that Rubio said in the same interview that he didn’t prefer to see the government shut down over the issue, it’s unclear what would have satisfied him.

Both the House and Senate took multiple votes on defunding the organization. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) both oppose Planned Parenthood, but didn’t want to seek a government shutdown precisely because they knew they didn’t have the votes and that Obama would veto it.

Meanwhile, right-wing media skewered Rubio for not showing up to vote against the Senate’s continuing resolution to fund both the government and Planned Parenthood.