Rich Galen

Our Nation's Capital has been agitated to the point of needing medication over the two big stories involving Hillary Clinton and Jill Abramson.

Everyone this side of Neptune knows who Hillary Clinton is. I'm not that sure that outside of the major population centers on the two coasts that many people know who Jill Abramson is.

Let's take them in alphabetical order.

Jill Abramson was the executive editor of the New York Times. In Washington, DC media circles, the phrase "New York" when written or uttered immediately precedent to the word "Times" is often followed by the sound of angels repeating the phrase in four-part harmony accompanied by a harp glissando.

She was unceremoniously fired last week by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher of the New York Times, as nearly as I could tell, because he decided she was just too much of a pain-in-the-butt to work with. To borrow a phrase: A real bossy-pants, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

The Abramson forces put out the word that she was fired because she had determined that her compensation package was not as high as the package that had been enjoyed by her predecessor in the executive editor position who was, you should pardon the expression, a man.

Women in the news biz let out a Shakespearian howl of anguish at the thought that (a) the New York Times was paying a woman less for the same job as it had paid a man; but (b) she was fired when she brought this to the management's attention.

Here's the good part. Women in the news biz found themselves on the same side of the argument as Right Wing commentators who were doing the nanny-nanny-boo-boo dance and pointing at the Times for being the self-appointed guardian of all things Liberal, while engaging in sexism in the workplace.

You have read this rule before:

No matter how good your position, there is always someone who agrees with you that you wish didn't.

The other women in the Times newsroom did not rise up in righteous anger and march out the front door in solidarity, so the Sulzberger side of the story might have some credence, but it certainly plays differently because a woman was involved.

Now. Hillary.

Last week, the New York Post (no angels, no harps) reported that Karl Rove had said while on a panel on the West Coast that included CBS correspondent Dan Raviv and former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, that when Clinton fell in 2012 she spent "thirty days in the hospital" and

"when she reappears, she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what's up with that."

Well. You know what happened after that. The Hillary Clinton camp was joined by everyone with a microphone or a word processor in demanding that Rove recant.

Here are four things to keep in mind.

First. Rove said he never used the phrase "brain damage" and there do not appear to be any contemporaneous recordings of the event.

Second. Mrs. Clinton is nearly my age. The strain and drain of a Presidential campaign, much less the daily pressure of actually holding the office, is a lot different for someone approaching 70, than someone approaching 60. That would be a legitimate issue for any male candidate to deal with; it should be no less an issue for a woman candidate.

Third. There has been no suggestion that when Rove said whatever he said about Mrs. Clinton's health that either Dan Raviv nor Robert Gibbs jumped to her defense, much less stormed off the stage.

Fourth. Last week Bill Clinton chimed in and, according to ABC News:

"The former president revealed that his wife's injury 'required six months of very serious work to get over,' he said during a question-and-answer session at the Peterson Foundation in Washington."

A candidate for President whose name was anything other than Hillary Clinton would be dogged at every stop asking about what was going on during those six months and whether that candidate thought the injury might be seen as a disqualification by some voters.

It's been a big week for women in the news. Not the news-making they would have liked, but in this age of hyper-sensitivity we need to discuss, not the specifics of the cases, but the way we automatically react to negative reports about any special group.

We don't know what would have happened if Jill Abramson had been named Joseph. We don't know what the reaction to a brain issue would have been if Hillary Clinton had been named Thomas Eagleton.

Oh. We do know that answer to that.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.