It's not every day that a politician is equated with a short skirt-, tight sweater-wearing dancer who punctuates things with hearts and exclamation points. In fact, when one politician is speaking on behalf of another, headlines use words like "stump" or "rally" or "campaign." The article titled "The Cheerleader" in Monday's Albuquerque Journal calls Sen. Hillary Clinton a rival-turned-cheerleader (you're either a competitor or a pom pom-wagging gymnast, eh, ladies?).
It's sure to detail what Clinton wore to the rally in Española for Sen. Barrack Obama. Though it’s in the captions, the article proper never once deigns to give Clinton the “Sen.” title, though it includes the honorific before every other politician’s name in the piece. The '50s phoned (it was wearing a smart red apron with matching heels and a lacy blouse) and it wants its sexism back.
It doesn’t have to go down this way. The Santa Fe New Mexican handily avoided sexist content, and nationwide, “cheerleader” is not often assigned to former presidential candidates—even the female contender.
This is one of those situations where the people reported on are more progressive than the people doing the reporting. And what good is progress when you're looking at everything through warped, dusty glasses?
On second thought, forget Sen. Clinton’s pantsuit choices. What people are not wearing seems to be even more interesting to the Journal. For instance, how many times are we going to hear about teenagers in their underwear and "older men" in a story about Club 7?
It's not clear if anyone was actually naked beyond a legal limit, or if there's an age restriction on baring skin. The image is as titillating as it is scandalous. It’s clever, the way descriptions of that shocking scene drum up moral outrage and all the while exploit scantily clad teens.
The press has to be careful not to convict someone in print before that person has been tried in court. I can't tell you what happened at Club 7 on Friday, Aug. 8, and even after the media circus of righteousness, investigators were having a hard time making charges stick. Among the ones that finally did: sale to an intoxicated person, sale to a minor, minor in a restricted area. Where's the charge about live, nude teenagers?
The city acted without the state's Special Investigation Division—which usually doles out such charges—and still hasn't arrested anyone after the big bust. The mayor took the opportunity to blame the state for the botched job, calling the Regulation and Licensing Department "dysfunctional."
Our morning daily strung the club up by its underpants before there were charges with the headline "Mayor: Shut it Down" followed by (in the print edition) "14-year-old girls stripped to their underwear," and "Adult men who had been drinking" and "Ecstasy, meth, marijuana and heroin."
Where's your 14-year-old, reader?, the paper seems to be asking. Doing hard drugs and hanging out in her bra and panties with "predatory" old dudes. It's every parent's worst nightmare and paints a picture with a sexy and sensationalist brush. Those exaggerated portraits captured the mayor and governor’s fatherly posturing as they promised to shut Club 7 down, legal process be damned.