In Defense of Clothing Coverage

At the Washington Post columnist Jeanne McManus argues for more, non-“ham-handed” coverage of what Michelle Obama wears:

I understand the dilemma faced by mainstream media in the coverage of this first lady at this moment in time. Of course, there are ham-handed ways of weaving details about her clothes into news stories….

There are even “ham-handed ways,” when it comes to covering powerful women, of making details about someone’s style the entire news story.

…But there are also artful, respectful ways that don’t leave readers in the dark. The Hemline Patrol will always be out there, chastising coverage that veers even slightly away from substance and toward style. But I think we have an opportunity for another kind of change in the coverage of a woman who thinks smart, talks smart and looks smart. Why can’t we readers be allowed to see the whole picture?

It’s really tough to imagine how anyone (unless they were trying very, very hard — no cable, no Internet) could be “left in the dark” about how Mrs. Obama looked at any particular event.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.