Take gender bias out of news

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

When newspapers become gossip tabloids, journalism is threatened.

The Washington Times published a story last week criticizing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) for a $300 haircut with the headline, “Self-declared socialist AOC splurges on high-dollar hairdo.” The articles claims Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could’ve saved $100 dollars at a Capitol Hill barbershop and subsequently compared her grooming habits to that of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a man with, quite frankly, not very much hair.

If this article were to have any merit or worth in a publication that considers itself to be a reputable news source, it should in no way be considered a top news story.

While it may be the job of tabloids and gossip magazines to report on topics such as a female politician’s new haircut, a news outlet such as The Washington Times should be reporting on newsworthy stories that actually affect people instead of instigating something based in gender bias.

It’s not often you see articles out on how much Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz are spending on their haircuts or suits, but when it’s learned a woman is spending upwards of $200 on their hair or doesn’t wear the right thing for a debate, for some reason people see that as newsworthy when it’s not.

John Edwards, a 2007 Democratic presidential candidate, was criticized for his $300 to $500 haircut. However, Edwards used campaign funds while Ocasio-Cortez used personal spending money. A haircut purchased with one’s personal money is not a matter of public concern.

Shouldn’t news outlets like the Washington Times be focusing objectively on Ocasio-Cortez’s policies and plans for the remainder of her term? Almost all of their stories on their home page Oct. 14 had something to do with a male politician’s policies or plans, and the three stories on women were all framed in criticism. For example, one of its headlines is “Trump condemns parody of church massacre, White House says,” and the headline for an article they wrote on Elizabeth Warren is “Elizabeth Warren roasted for Indigenous Peoples Day ‘respect’ tweet.”

Male and female politicians should be given the same amount of respect in their positions and in the media. After debates, the top story for Elizabeth Warren should not be on what outfit she was wearing or how she seems “cold” and “unlikeable.” A woman should not have to be sweet and bubbly to get elected and should not be criticized for her grooming habits in a news story when it has no correlation to her position.

It is important for consumers of the news to be aware of these biases in the media and subscribe to neutral and reliable news sources. Media Bias Fact Check analyzes biased language and quality of reporting in news outlets. According to them, among the least biased news sources are the Associated Press, Politico, Politifact, The Economist, The Hill and The Texas Standard. Do not subscribe to news sources that publish articles that undermine quality journalism. “Fake news” only spreads as far as readers allow it to.