A New York Times Tale of Two Women: Lolo Jones v. Sandra Fluke

Lolo Jones

The New York Times – the best of unwarranted attacks and the worst of ideological defenses.

Jeré Longman, of The New York Times, began his article on American Olympian, Lolo Jones, with the following:

[j]udging from this year’s performances, Lolo Jones seems to have only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold. Lolo Jones has received more attention than any other American track and field athlete based on what some have called a cynical marketing strategy that is long on hyperbole and short on achievement.

Longman continued,

[s]till, Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses. – Jeré Longman

In other words, because Lolo Jones received publicity from others, it must only be because of her “exotic beauty” and some conscious decision by her to become a “vixen, virgin, victim” for the media – as if Jones had a measure of control as to how she was born or her decision to remain a virgin could not possibly be explained by her Christian faith and values.

Instead of throwing salt on fresh wounds, one would think that a more natural response to Ms. Jones achievements, despite not winning gold in every event, would be to heap some much deserved praise on her for her hard work and dedication both in her professional and private life.  Making it to the Olympics in order to represent the United States could not have been achieved without hard work and neither could she have remained true to her core values, with all the modern temptations and pressures, without working hard at it.  Her achievements are to be lauded, not derided.

Yet, The New York Times article went even further when Longman contemptuously noted that “she [Ms. Jones] has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal.”  In defense of this outrageous statement, Longman cites, in part, her decision to pose tastefully nude for ESPN The Magazine’s, Body Issue.  Yet, Longman conveniently omitted to mention that ESPN’s Body Issue – which is obviously more art than pornography – features other high profile female athletes.

Lolo Jones, ESPN The Magazine – Body Issue

Where was Jeré Longman’s condemnation of WNBA’s Candace Parker, American gymnast Alicia Sacramone, US Women’s Soccer goalie Hope Solo, or members of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team who all posed nude for ESPN’s Body Issue?  Were they and others, by also posing similarly nude for ESPN, not setting back female athletes as being worthy only if they had sex appeal?

Further, where was Jeré Longman condemnation of the UFC’s Jon Jones, NFL’s Maurice Jones-Drew, or NBA’s Blake Griffin – were they not demeaning men when they posed nude for ESPN’s Body Issue?

Somehow none of these other athletes, male or female, drew Jeré Longman or The New York Times contemptible ire.  Perhaps these notable omissions can in some way be explained because of her particular sport – track and field.  Surely then Ms. Jones was the only track and field athlete to ever pose nude for ESPN’s Body Issue – nope, track and field star Natasha Hastings, for example, also posed unclothed.  Not too surprisingly, one would be hard pressed to find a single scathing article by Longman or The New York Times condemning her.One doubts that The New York Times or Jeré Longman would dare brazenly condemn her if she chose to publicly come out as a lesbian – on the contrary, complimentary articles praising her decision would undoubtedly litter The New York Times.

So what separates Ms. Jones from all those other athletes that have previously posed nude for ESPN?

Was it her personal choice to adhere to her Christian values and moral principles that The New York Times and Jeré Longman found so offensive?  Was it that Ms. Jones did not hide her Christian values from the public eye?  One doubts that The New York Times or Jeré Longman would dare brazenly condemn her if she chose to publicly come out as a lesbian – on the contrary, complimentary articles praising her decision would undoubtedly litter The New York Times.

Consequently, it seems clear that it was Ms. Jones’ personal Christian beliefs – namely her decision to remain a virgin until marriage – that she dared not hide from the public that The New York Times and Longman found so offensive.  In contrast, compare this hateful article to their coverage of Sandra Fluke.

In reporting on Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown law student who gained some noterity for her desire to have a religious organization pay for her personal contraception; The New York Times seemingly bent over backwards trying to portray her in a positive light – never mind that she was/is an obvious canard setup by Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) and many in the Democratic Party in order to support President Obama’s reelection bid.

There is little doubt that The New York Times went out of their way to support Ms. Fluke – in fact, an online search could not find one critical article published by The New York Times which confronted Sandra Fluke’s position nor even a single article without a pronounced deferential bias toward her.

For example, the fact that no religious organization ever tried to stop Ms. Fluke from purchasing contraception with her own funds was never mentioned or questioned; the fact that one would be hard pressed to find mass students in need of birth control in excess of “$3,000” was never questioned or mentioned; and the fact that inexpensive birth control is already readily available across the country was never mentioned or questioned in any article by The New York Times.… the fact that no religious organization ever tried to stop Ms. Fluke from purchasing contraception with her own funds was never mentioned or questioned in any article by The New York Times …

Since it was never established that there is a dearth of affordable and available contraception in America, whatever contraception needs Ms. Fluke may actually have, she failed to show that such a need outweighs a religious organization’s right not to fund activities that they find objectionable based on their religious beliefs.  Yet, Ms. Fluke and her role in this act, which was so artfully directed, was never earnestly questioned – nor even objectively investigated by any so-called journalists at The New York Times.

Nevertheless, The New York Times, via Jeré Longman, immediately judged an Olympic athlete contemptible for her public beliefs – Lolo Jones was disgracefully branded a “vixen,” a “victim” – yet, The New York Times dared not even sincerely question Sandra Fluke and her role.

What is clear from all of this is that The New York Times will go far, far to applaud and protect an outspoken woman, so long as she says and does only what they want her to say.

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America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves — Abraham Lincoln