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fashion-memopad

Suffering Fashion Mags... Richer Readers...

It was an ugly 2008 for the entire magazine industry, and the major fashion and luxury titles couldn't escape the blows of the broader economic decline.

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THE ELECTION DISSECTION GOES ON, AND ON, AND…: Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are no longer campaigning, but former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro isn’t done decrying media sexism. At a panel on “Gender, Politics and Media in the 2008 Election” hosted by New York Women in Communications on Thursday, Ferraro called on journalists and executives present to do more to fight sexism. And she named names: “Tim Russert was the worst on [sexism],” she said. “I wish that he were still here for many reasons, one of which is I would beat him up a little” over his handling of the Democratic primary debate. She said she’d severed her 30-year friendship with Russert during the primaries after some heated e-mail exchanges on the topic.

Ferraro, who drew criticism during the campaign for saying Barack Obama’s race was an asset to his nomination, began to compare racism and sexism in the media before moderator Carol Jenkins, president of the Women’s Media Center, stopped her. “Geraldine, don’t go too far on this,” saying she had gone on television to defend Ferraro back then.

There were silver linings, panelists said. Jenkins pointed out that the prominence of Rachel Maddow, Campbell Brown and Katie Couric during the election season represented a step forward for women in the media. Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project, noted Clinton and Palin’s candidacies had meant more female commentators on Sunday news shows. “It was like, wow, this is usually ‘Meet the Men,’” she said. And Arianna Huffington said the campaign had “spelled the end of Karl Rove politics. The main reason it didn’t work was the Internet.” She argued that while television was compelled to give time to John McCain surrogates saying that, for example, Palin had opposed the “bridge to nowhere,” online venues had repeatedly challenged the assertion until the campaign quit using it.

The night before, at an Executive Women in Fashion event at FIT, Huffington also gave the Internet credit for electing Obama, saying, he “used the power of the Internet. Were it not for the Internet, he would not be president.”

Huffington said the media had a responsibility to not simply repeat the anonymous ex-McCain staffer leaks that made Palin look worse. But, she added, “Let’s not forget the reality of Sarah Palin. She is an arrogant know-nothing.…She’s someone that we as women don’t have to defend just because she’s a woman.”

Still, plenty of women disagree, as More editor in chief Lesley Jane Seymour learned when she got angry reader mail for putting Michelle Obama on the cover and not Palin. (The magazine had in fact been talking to Palin when she was simply a rising star among governors, only to see its access yanked when she was named a candidate for vice president).

— Irin Carmon and A.W.
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