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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NYT, predictably snotty and silly, weighs in on the "trophy wife" meme for Fred and Jeri Thompson

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters and Joe Gandleman at The Moderate Voice had similarly derisive reactions to the NYT's July 8th story on former Sen. Fred Thompson's wife, Jeri Kehn Thompson — the alleged "trophy wife" about whom I've already blogged, with lots more pix, a couple of times last month (here and here). Quoth the one-time national newspaper of record:

... Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?

The question may seem sexist, even crass, but serious people — as well as Mr. Thompson’s supporters — have been wrestling with the public reaction to Jeri Kehn Thompson, whose youthfulness, permanent tan and bleached blond hair present a contrast to the 64-year-old man who hopes to win the hearts of the conservative core of the Republican party. Will the so-called values voters accept this union?

Fred & Jeri Thompson with daughter Heyden (photo: Erik S. Lesser/World Picture Network) The question is sexist, and it is crass. And "serious people," including Mr. Thompson's supporters (or those who, like me, are leaning that direction) don't have much trouble recognizing tabloid journalism practices even when they gush from the pages of the New York Times.

Then, if we "serious people" have any sense of humor — which the candidate and his wife certainly do — we simply laugh and shake our heads at the hypocrisy and, frankly, the dinosaurishness of those other people who think this might actually be a substantial hindrance to Sen. Thompson's campaign.

Gandleman, calling this "smelly journalism," makes the point that ought to have been obvious to the NYT editors (caps his):

So the writer of the piece knows for A FACT that when Thompson married his present wife, she was picked as a "trophy?" There was no love involved? No relationship? No friendship? She didn’t share some of his values and dreams? ...

[T]his Times story has a basic assumption that neither the writer or the editor could prove — one that should have been edited out from the lead of the story.

But if that had happened, then the story wouldn’t have GRABBED THE READER. And that’s what’s more important than showing accuracy and fairness, isn’t it?

Morrissey infers a motive more political than simple capitalistic circulation-pumping:

All it indicates to me is that Pinch Sulzberger and his staff seem very worried about a Thompson campaign, so worried that they have already started attacking Fred's family rather than discuss his policy stands, contained in essays that he has published for months at Townhall and ABC. The caliber of these attacks show the quality of the opposition to Fred, and also give Fred some indirect credibility, as his opponents don't appear to have confidence that they can beat him on the issues.

They're both right.

As for me, I'm confident that somewhere on Hillary Clinton's nightstand is a list of "General Election Attack/Rebound Issues" that she constantly reminds herself to avoid raising herself, in lieu of properly insulated attacks to be made only by proxy. One of them, I'm sure, already has to do with Jeri Thompson — her hair color, her tan, her curves, and especially her age. It's part of the methodical nature of a Clinton campaign to leave no attack unmade, even if the number of voters who will potentially respond to the attack is fairly small, as I think is the case in 21C America with an attack based on an opponent having "married a 'trophy wife.'" Put another way: I think vast majority of people who are likely to be fixated on Fred Thompson's and his spouse's relative ages or looks in a negative way are people who have already decided to vote against the GOP nominee, whether that turns out to be Fred Thompson or someone else.

But surely someone on Hillary's staff has snapped to this reality and already pointed it out to her: The most potentially powerful way in which Jeri Thompson's looks and age might affect the 2008 presidential campaign is via a backlash against a candidate stupid enough to be caught trying to make them an issue — particularly if that's a candidate who is herself still more famous as a politician's wife than as a politician in her own right.

Posted by Beldar at 11:20 PM in 2008 Election, Mainstream Media, Politics (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to NYT, predictably snotty and silly, weighs in on the "trophy wife" meme for Fred and Jeri Thompson and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Video clip of Sen. Fred Thompson with wife Jeri and kids from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Jul 15, 2007 10:36:14 PM


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