In the #MeToo era that we live in, there are certain journalists who have a lot of explaining and reflecting to do. Near the top of the list: Bill Clinton-era reporters who have made cringe-worthy comments excusing the president. It was 23 years ago this week that Time contributor Nina Burleigh told then-Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz: “I'd be happy to give [Clinton] a blow job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.”
If you weren't already disgusted, there's more: “I think American women should be lining up with their Presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.”
My, that comment didn’t age well, did it? But, if you can believe it, Burleigh’s other comments are just as bad. The July 7,1998 CyberAlert recounted her excitement over being ogled by Democrat Clinton:
The President's foot lightly, and presumably accidentally, brushed mine once under the table. His hand touched my wrist while he was dealing the cards. When I got up and shook his hand at the end of the game, his eyes wandered over to my bike-wrecked, naked legs. And slowly it dawned on me as I walked away: He found me attractive.
"No doubt the President's lawyers and spin doctors would say I wishfully imagined that long, appreciative look, just as all those other women have fantasized their more explicitly sexual encounters with Clinton. But we all know when we're being ogled. The weird thing was that I didn't mind.
This is the same woman who, in 2017, decried Trump administration women for wearing high heels. In Newsweek, she seethed, “Six months in, and the Trump women are well on their way to normalizing the footwear of the beauty pageant.”
Burleigh quoted a British psychologist to decry Ivana, Ivanka and Melania for playing into male stereotypes:
“In terms of the human example, we tend to find the defining characteristics of the opposite sex attractive,” [Paul] Morris wrote. “High heels function in a similar way. Males respond to the characteristic way a woman walks, i.e., the movement of the female pelvis: High heels just exaggerate the femaleness of the walk. So to deconstruct why Trump women wear high heels: They are just buying into traditional binary views of male and female.”
So, perhaps, just perhaps, Ms. Burleigh isn’t the right person to judge what’s degrading to women.
For more examples from our FLASHBACK series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.