Stop asking about a political candidate’s hair

If you want to see a fine example of the shallow nature of political coverage, look no further than today’s New York Times Q&A with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, in which a Times reporter tries to address gender issues by perpetuating the focus on a candidate’s appearance.

Here’s the section:

Do you think it’s fair that Hillary’s hair gets a lot more scrutiny than yours does? Hillary’s hair gets more scrutiny than my hair?

Yeah. Is that what you’re asking?


O.K., Ana, I don’t mean to be rude here. I am running for president of the United States on serious issues, O.K.? Do you have serious questions?

I can defend that as a serious question. There is a gendered reason —

When the media worries about what Hillary’s hair looks like or what my hair looks like, that’s a real problem. We have millions of people who are struggling to keep their heads above water, who want to know what candidates can do to improve their lives, and the media will very often spend more time worrying about hair than the fact that we’re the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people.

It’s also true that the media pays more attention to what female candidates look like than it does to what male candidates look like.

That may be. That may be, and it’s absolutely wrong.

Ana Marie Cox is the reporter who objects to the media coverage of a candidate’s appearance.