Ashley Herzog
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Future women leaders of America beware: if you plan on a career in politics, don’t allow yourself to be photographed in a bikini. Especially if you’re the type of woman who speaks out against the sexualization of young girls, the media will be eager to use it against you.

That is what we learned from conservative author Michelle Malkin last week. After she wrote a column criticizing once-wholesome singer Charlotte Church for her slide into pop star hedonism, left-wing Internet blogs discovered photographs of Malkin on spring break fourteen years ago. Accompanied by headlines like “Michelle Malkin gone wild” and “Michelle, you ignorant slut,” the blogs linked to a photo-sharing page that featured Malkin cavorting with girlfriends and posing in a string bikini.

It seemed like the perfect “gotcha” moment for the liberal blogosphere. But there was a problem: the photo page wasn’t real. I know this because most of the pictures on it belong to me.

Whoever made the photo page apparently wasn’t content to insult Malkin, an Asian woman, with racial slurs – a popular activity among her critics. Instead, they aimed to expose her as a hypocrite. Using pictures stolen from various Webshots.com accounts, including mine, the creator wrote captions to imply that I had had been a classmate of Malkin’s at Oberlin College in the early 90s – and that she was anything but a moralist back then.

By the time I discovered the hoax, liberal blogs were already hard at work smearing Malkin as a “slut,” “hussy,” and “b-tch.”

I was shocked as I scrolled through posts and reader comments about my pictures, some of them photoshopped or falsely labeled as pictures of Malkin. Racist jokes and sexual denigration were common themes.

Beneath a picture of me with a close friend from high school, someone had written, “She looks so happy back then…I wonder what made her become such a bitch? Maybe her grandma never sent her a care pack of adobo and lumpia shanghai.”

When someone commented that the photo of Malkin in a skimpy bikini appeared to be photoshopped, a reader responded, “A too small head on Malkin's body doesn't mean it's Photoshopped. It just means that she has to put in the extra effort when she gives blow jobs.” The malicious posts did not appear on obscure blogs serving the political fringe. In fact, the most aggressive attacks came from a law professor at the University of North Carolina and a blog conglomerate valued at $76 million. Despite Malkin’s insistence that the photo site was an obvious forgery, the blogs continued to deride her as a hypocrite and, above all, a “skank.”

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Ashley Herzog

Ashley Herzog can be reached at aebristow85@gmail.com.