Moving copies at the newsstand

Virginia Postrel, a self-described “bona fide coastal elitist intellectual snob,” isn’t what you’d call a Sarah Palin fan, but she does have something to say about that infamous Newsweek cover:

There are, of course, problems with the photo, which was taken for Runner’s World and was supposed to be embargoed for a year. Nonetheless, it’s clear what Newsweek editors were thinking when they picked it: This is going to sell magazines. (The controversy is a bonus. Free publicity!) Journalism is in survival mode. This is not a time to get squeamish about using the most commercial photo available.

Dollars trump ideology. This is not to say that dollars are independent of ideology — the more you have of the former, the easier it is to implement the latter — but ultimately, as that guy with the ever-changing name says, it’s all about the Benjamins.

As for the charges of “sexism,” Postrel observes:

The cries that the cover is “sexist” assume two things: First, that women in public life should not be portrayed as consciously, proudly, sexily attractive. Male politicians can be obviously good looking, but conspicuously attractive women aren’t sufficiently serious. (Maybe we’ll make an exception if you look sufficiently high-end WASP.)

I don’t recall a lot of complaints about, for instance, Barack Obama topless.

And I can’t help thinking that the aforementioned elites would have a lot less of a problem with Palin if she sounded like Diane Rehm.

And, second, that Newsweek doesn’t like Sarah Palin — an assumption borne out by its cover headline. With different editorial framing, the photo would be read differently.

A demonstration of this argument is provided.

Finally, there’s this:

I do have one question: Is she wearing panty hose?

Based on the other Runner’s World photos, and on an examination of the small number of Palin photos I keep on hand for just this sort of research, I believe that she is not.

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