Can Elizabeth Warren win her Senate contest in Massachusetts despite the daily, often sexist, all-out hammering from the state’s second largest paper—and one favored by many of the swing voters she needs to attract? It’s no surprise that the staunchly conservative and Republican Boston Herald is backing GOP incumbent Scott Brown, but it’s the way it’s doing it that is raising hackles. Will it carry the day, or produce a backlash? It certainly matters, as the latest polls continue to show a dead heat, with Warren at best up a point or two.
The prime offender has been longtime columnist Howie Carr, who by one count has referred to Warren as “Granny” at least sixteen times since this past February. His new column today, in fact, puts it right in the headline: “Keeping up with Granny Ain’t Easy.” After several paragraphs of scorn (including the standard she-wants-to-destroy-capitalism) he calls her Lieawatha and “the fake Indian.”
Okay, it’s just one columnist; surely this doesn’t cross over to the news pages? Alas, this past Tuesday, the Herald printed a front page carrying a huge photo of Warren (see left), IDing her only as “Liz” and, yes, “Granny.” David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix quickly tweeted, “Not a Quote. Not a Howie column. Just the Herald calling her granny.” Actually “Liz” is pretty tame, since she often gets “Lizzie.”
Apparently Carr felt he was so clever early on likening Warren to “Granny Clampett” of Beverly Hillbillies fame that he has kept it up to this day.
“Name It. Change It”—a nonpartisan project of WCF Foundation, Women’s Media Center and Political Parity—weighed in this week, “Since her debut in the political arena, Elizabeth Warren has been a lightning rod for media attention from both supporters and oppenents. However, there comes a time when it is vital to draw distinctions between the legitimate commentary she receives based on her politics and the repeated attacks launched against her because of her age and gender.…
“Again and again, Name It. Change It. has noted that The Boston Herald is engaging in a one way rhetorically sexist battle against the Democratic nominee for the Massachusetts senate seat. No other mainstream media outlet has shown Warren such disrespect as a woman running for office.” Well, I suppose that’s a relief (so far).
“While Carr has dedicated many of his vitriolic columns to Warren, the demeaning and sexist rebranding of Elizabeth Warren as ‘Liz’ or ‘Lizzie’ in the headlines of other Herald reporters and columnists such as Hilary Chabot, Michael Graham, Kimberly Atkins, and Jennifer C. Braceras, continues unabated and unremarked by any other media observers. What began as one man’s crusade against Warren has become the collective action for a large part of the paper’s editorial staff.”
The newspaper at least prints this letter to the editor today from a woman in Somerville: “With a front-page portrait of Elizabeth Warren and what appears to be an epithet, ‘Granny,’ you make it clear that you are not interested in the facts of her track record as an economist and consumer advocate. Her desire to prevent another banking industry hosing of the middle class should appeal to your readership. Instead, you treat her campaign purely from a simplistic and misogynistic point of view.”