Ms. Magazine Politics

Boehner Bias?

On Wednesday, Nancy Pelosi handed over the speaker’s gavel to John Boehner, who is charged with leading the “Tea Party Congress” in their efforts to repeal health care reform, disband the Select Committee on Global Warming, defund Planned Parenthood and do a bunch of other things that people who have never held elected office think are good ideas.

So it’s no wonder Boehner has gotten so much media attention: Within a few weeks of the midterm elections, Boehner graced the covers of Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker and The Economist. Not to mention his mug on the October 30th issue of the National Journal’s cover. Five major magazine covers in less than a month might seem like a lot for an incoming Speaker who hadn’t even been sworn in yet, but hey, being the Speaker of the House, in the words of Joe Biden, is a “big fucking deal!”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who remembers Newt Gingrich’s four-year tenure as Speaker of the House during the Clinton administration. In that time, he made the cover of Time five times, once as Man of the Year. Since Time is a weekly–producing around 208 issues in four years, give or take–that’s about 1 cover in 40, which doesn’t seem like overmuch to devote to the third-most-powerful person in the nation. Plus, Gingrich was no slouch; he shut down the government! Like him or not, he’s newsworthy, right?

But what about outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi? The fact alone that she was the first woman Speaker ever–the most powerful woman in the history of the United States–makes her a landmark historical figure. Plus, she was one of the most effective Speakers of all time, managing to achieve almost unprecedented unity among the Democrats, and push through more significant new public policy than any Speaker in the last 50 years.

So one would assume that she’s been featured on the covers of many a major U.S. magazine. Well, one would be wrong. While Time did include a little “mini-Pelosi” on their 2007 “Most Influential People in the World” cover (see her down there, peeking out over Al Gore’s head in between Cate Blanchett and former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy?), Time never devoted a single one of the 208 or so covers it put out during her 4-year tenure to the most powerful woman in American history.

And the snubbing doesn’t end with Time‘s postage-stamp Speaker. The New Yorker? Never put Pelosi on the cover. Newsweek? Never. The Economist? Never. Vanity Fair? Never. Harpers? Never. I could go on, but you get the idea. What covers has she been on? She was on New York magazine. She was featured on the May/June cover of Capitol File, in a photo best remembered for generating misogynist commentary and speculation about airbrushing and plastic surgery, rather than for celebrating her historic achievements. And she was on Ms. magazine. Twice. Once when she became Speaker, and again now.

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