GIRLS RULE: On the morning of the second presidential debate, two central female figures in the race — Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton — were praised for being personalities to be reckoned with on the political stage, but were also critiqued for how they appeal to the broader public. At Newsweek’s Women and Leadership conference at New York’s American Museum of Natural History Tuesday morning, Vanity Fair’s Dee Dee Myers, Rosario Dawson and MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard debated Palin’s appeal to the Joe Sixpack voting population and the overall impact the Alaska governor will have on the image of women in leadership roles. Myers agreed that Palin’s good looks give her an advantage in the election. “Women are judged by their appearance more so than men. So you can either deal with the reality and try to make the most of it or you can pay the price for it,” Myers told WWD after the panel. “Palin’s looks definitely help her. But so does her optimism and her confidence and her ability to take a punch and stand at attack and not cry.”
As for the impact of the economy on women-run businesses and households, CBS anchor Julie Chen asked Tina Brown, who this week launched news aggregation site The Daily Beast, and Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, about introducing new ventures at a time of economic uncertainty. “It hasn’t affected it at all,” said Brown of her site, which she developed with IAC/Interactive Corp. chief Barry Diller. She repeated what she’s said over the last few days: that headlines of a Wall Street collapse and the election made it “an exciting time” to launch a news site. In fact, Brown said the servers crashed Monday from traffic to the site.
Author and Newsweek contributing editor Anna Quindlen was one of those responsible, exclaiming “I love The Beast!” as she walked by Brown backstage.
For Zalaznick, Bravo’s latest installment of its reality show on affluent trophy wives, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” is more than just a materialistic slap in the face of America in a time of economic turmoil. “It’s a layered social commentary,” said Zalaznick. “They’re neither real nor housewives. That’s the irony. There is no such thing as real, there’s no such thing as a [real] housewife.” — Stephanie D. Smith