Tabloid Tactics from 60 Minutes

A recent 60 Minutes segment accusing members of Congress of using their political influence for personal profit has been making the rounds this week. Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Spencer Bachus were all investigated in the piece for potentially benefiting from financial information that they learned as a result of their positions in Congress.

Take a look at the footage of the three members that was used in the segment. Notice anything strange about the attire that 60 Minutes chose to showcase?

Okay, we understand the premise: you want to portray members of Congress as wealthy, because that fits with the message of your segment. Choosing footage of them in evening wear is one way to do that. But the male equivalent of an evening gown is a tuxedo, not a standard business suit—so why show Leader Pelosi in an evening gown if you’re not going to show Speaker Boehner and Rep. Bachus in black-tie outfits? That fails the reversibility test, 60 Minutes, and your poor image choice portrays Pelosi in an unfair light compared to her male colleagues.

This is irresponsible, sexist, and disappointing journalism from an otherwise-respected news organization. As Pelosi herself said this week:

“It’s sad for ‘60 Minutes,’ because they were up here,” she said, raising her hand to show the highest level, and now, she added, “it’s just another tabloid.”
Published by Kate McCarthy on 11/18/2011

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