Dowd Strikes Again: Spins Benghazi Column Into Sexist Slam on Hillary

By Peter Daou and Tom Watson

The reaction to the sadistic Benghazi hearings was near-unanimous: it was seen as a gross overreach by the Republicans and a dignified and presidential showing by Hillary Clinton.

We say “near-unanimous” because there is one notable dissenter: Maureen Dowd.

Dowd has conducted a long-standing personal vendetta against Hillary Clinton from her perch at the New York Times, a publication that has squandered generations of credibility with shoddy coverage of the first woman with a viable path to the presidency.

Here are some of the terms Dowd uses in her latest column:

Nobody plays the victim like Hillary … uses sympathy to launch a political career ... never more alluring than when men bully her … She didn’t want to seem like a hippie flower girl flashing a peace sign after 9/11 … one of the Furies … the Valkyrie who engineers the intervention … She seemed oddly detached about Stevens … she was the midwife to chaos … she should have watched that baby like the Lady Hawk she is.

That Dowd criticizes Republicans on the Benghazi committee does nothing to mitigate her continued Hillary-bashing. The New York Times should immediately repudiate her column.

There is no place in our public discourse for this kind of stereotyping, this rank sexism. No place when Donald Trump does it. No place when rightwing trolls do it. No place when Morning Joe does it.

In 2015, no respectable publication should publish an editorial about a prominent woman (or any woman) with terminology that would nestle comfortably in the misogynistic recesses of 4chan or Reddit.

Here is some history on Dowd from our August post, The Rovian Research Behind Maureen Dowd's Anti-Hillary Screeds:

Voters need to understand that what they think they know about Hillary is often the result of sophisticated propaganda techniques, where tightly-crafted talking points are focus-grouped and deployed by shadowy GOP groups then magnified by the mainstream media and pundits. 

This is the subtext to Maureen Dowd’s recent vicious attack against Hillary. Dowd’s words are chosen meticulously: they fit perfectly into the narratives and frames that have been developed for over two decades to smear Hillary.

Dowd has written more than 200 columns on Hillary, most of them negative. A detailed analysis by Oliver Willis and Hannah Groch-Begley published last summer found that “Dowd has repeatedly accused Clinton of being an enemy to or betraying feminism (35 columns, 18 percent of those studied), power-hungry (51 columns, 26 percent), unlikable (9 columns, 5 percent), or phony (34 columns, 17 percent). She's also attacked the Clintons as a couple in 43 columns (22 percent), many of which included Dowd's ham-handed attempts at psychoanalysis.” 

The abuse continues. Just this past April, Dowd wrote that Hillary is a "granny" who "can't figure out how to campaign as a woman" after she "scrubbed out the femininity, vulnerability, and heart" required to do so during her 2008 presidential run. Claiming Hillary is now trying to shift her image after she "saw the foolishness of acting like a masculine woman," Dowd asserted that the candidate "always overcorrects," and is now "basking in estrogen." Dowd concluded, saying hopefully Hillary will "teach her Republican rivals...that bitch is still the new black" instead.

We’re happy that Hillary is having a good month after a summer of non-stop verbal abuse from the media and commentariat. But we’ve been around long enough to know that politics is cyclical and there will be significant challenges ahead. We have no intention of getting complacent as the anti-Hillary attacks ramp up. And Maureen Dowd won’t sneak a sexist column past us.


Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.