For some fifteen years, Robin Givhan has served as fashion critic for the Washington Post which, Stephen Colbert once observed, is like being “dance critic for the Southern Baptist Convention.” Yesterday, news broke that Givhan will move on, from the Post to Tina Brown’s new Newsweek, where she will be the D.C.-based “special correspondent for style and culture.”
We’ve taken issue with Givhan’s Post columns from time to time here at CJR. Earlier this year, Givhan reported that unlike “most women,” Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan “doesn’t appear to ever cross her legs” (except for in all those photos readily available via Google images in which Elena Kagan appears crossing her legs). Or recall, back in 2007, when Givhan was convinced that she spotted Hillary Clinton’s cleavage while watching CSPAN2 one Wednesday afternoon (and, by Sunday morning, Tim Russert was asking his round table about Clinton’s “showing a bit of it on the Senate floor.”). In October 2005, Givhan devoted over 500 words to then-failed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers’s “tendency to overdo the eyeliner.” (How did we not write about that at the time?)
Back in 2006, I did a Q&A with Givhan, in which she said she had yet to regret anything she had written, and shrugged off her “mean-spirited” reputation. Somehow, that reputation persists (see the pretty damning list of “The 10 Nastiest Things Robin Givhan Has Ever Written,” compiled today by TBD.com’s Amanda Hess).
There have been times, though, when Givhan has nailed it (often, when she’s dialed the “nasty” back, a bit). Would anyone argue with her observation that Justin Bieber “looks like a Muppet emerging from a wind tunnel?” Or that Rod Blagojevich’s “is a hairstyle that typically has not been seen on grown-ups since the 1970s when it dominated the pages of Tiger Beat magazine”?Liz Cox Barrett is a freelance writer and graphic designer in Kalispell, Montana. She worked as a newspaper journalist in Denver and Kalispell for 20 years.