A heroine gets her due

KateCoverYesterday, the Washington Post ran a profile of Kate Michelman. I’m not sure if they were trying to push her new book or push her appearance before the Alito hearings today, but they were pushing something. If NARAL Pro-Choice America itself had written the piece, it probably would have had more perspective.

Yes, it was in the Style section. But really. Beginning with the headline (“Kate Michelman, The Public Face of a Woman’s Right to Privacy“), the piece is just puffy. I can think of many controversial people who would like such unblinkingly positive coverage in the Post.

Kate Michelman is the face of reproductive rights. It’s a thin face with high cheekbones, dark eyes that can light up and a mouth with a corner that upturns at comic moments.

Staff writer Linton Weeks delves deep to teach us that Michelman organized sales to benefit Mexican farm workers as a teenager. She makes food from scratch and loves to wash dishes. She reads a lot (“every word in every paragraph”) and watches “24.” And then this:

Personality tests, she said, always told her what she already knew. She is an introvert. Her personal story, she said, pushed her into prominence.

Maybe it was reflecting earlier this week on that wonderful Los Angeles Times piece that makes this saccharine hagiography so difficult to stomach. Apparently the rest of the media did not get the memo that more even-handed coverage of abortion issues was permissible. While I’m sympathetic to writing so positively about controversial figures who have since retired from public life, this very controversial woman was testifying against Alito today, not 20 years ago.

While no critics of Michelman were found, Linton did share this quote from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:

Albright told everyone that Michelman had provided “a voice for those who didn’t have a voice and a brain for those who didn’t have a brain.”

Yikes. No comment.

Next time the Post profiles someone, I hope they can provide a bit more perspective. I certainly got nothing out of this piece. And that’s a shame, because I’d love to know more about Michlelman.

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  • Michael D. Harmon

    A suitable text for journalism classes on how to promote your agenda and call it “news.”

    And yes, that was a howler. It says a lot about the issue — and the Post — that the writer and God knows how many levels of editors didn’t recognize it as such.

    Ah, but none of this matters. What counts is that the right side was supported, and the wrong put in its place. People who oppose abortion are ignorant, you know, and uneducated, and ever-so-easy to command….

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    The piece is not without irony:

    Ideally, she would like to live in medieval fashion, without many modern conveniences.

  • http://www.physicsgeekjesusfreak.blogspot.com Matthew M.

    “Yikes. No comment.” Indeed.

  • J-Money

    That “voice for the voiceless” comment by Madeline Notbright is pretty ironic since Michelman has made a living out of fighting to have the voiceless unborn silenced.

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  • http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/YoungHomemaker shari

    This makes me mad. I am female and she doesn’t speak for me.

  • Stephen A.

    That’s why I don’t mean Pravda. I mean “the Post.”

    No, I mean “Pravda.”

    And this?:
    “a voice for those who didn’t have a voice and a brain for those who didn’t have a brain.”

    ….I’m speechless.

  • Tom R

    > “It’s a thin face with high cheekbones, dark eyes that can light up and a mouth with a corner that upturns at comic moments.”

    This is beyond parody. So would it be okay to overturn Roe, then, if its leading defenders had fat, jowly faces and slitty little eyes that show no expression?

    This reminds me of that Readers Digest style so eaisly parodied, (“Idi is an African dictator. His dark, smiling eyes light up mischievously when asked how human flesh tastes…”).

    No wonder NARAL can’t win fifty per cent of the votes in most of the USA, and has to rely on courts and filibusters instead.

  • Claire

    I’m not even going to touch the “brain for the brainless” line. That one speaks for itself.

    But seriously… I’m majoring in medieval studies, and it’s a fascinating subject, but I cannot imagine that anyone with even a basic grasp of the period would actually want to live that way. Fleas? Drafty castles? No antibiotics? Thanks, but no thanks.

    Even for the Style section, that’s an awful piece.

  • Eileen R

    Kate Michelman strikes me as a very interesting person, and I say this as a pro-lifer. A very sad past with a feeling of betrayal, both by her husband and the Catholic Church. A pro-lifer I know who met her and talked with her found her very friendly and an attractive personality, and I can recognize his description of her in the reporter’s account. So I know where the reporter is coming from, but hagiography is not really a responsible journalistic endeavour.