August 09, 2012

At least the NY Times public editor recognizes it

The NY Times' Jere Longman thinks that US Olympic track star Lolo Jones relies way too much on her great looks rather than her actual accomplishments on the track:

Still, 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.

Women have struggled for decades to be appreciated as athletes. For the first time at these Games, every competing nation has sent a female participant. But Jones is not assured enough with her hurdling or her compelling story of perseverance. So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.

Longman goes on to quote some academic comparing Jones to tennis player Anna Kournikova who was quite beautiful, yet never won a singles tournament in her sport. (Personally, I'd also add in golfer Michelle Wie who insisted on playing in men's tourneys before she ever did anything on the women's tour; she has only two victories on the LPGA tour at present.) Jones, in a subsequent interview, expressed sadness and disappointment with the article.

But is Longman being even close to fair with regards to Lolo? Not even close.

Check out Jones' vital stats. National indoor titles in the 60 meter hurdles in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Two gold medals in the World Indoor Championships in that event in 2008 and 2010. She holds the American record in the 60 meter hurdles, for cripe's sake. In 2008 in Beijing, Jones was favored to win the 100 meter hurdles and was on the verge of doing so -- until she tripped over the second-to-last hurdle, and finished seventh. Longman does mention the Olympics in Beijing and that Jones was leading the race in his column, but neglects to note she was the favorite and most likely would have won if not for the trip, which is a fairly common occurrence in hurdles.

Are these accomplishments Anna Kournikova or Michelle Wie-like? No freakin' way. Far from it.

Longman's column was so off-base that Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane felt compelled to respond:

I believe writers like Jere Longman, who does have a long and worthy track record at The Times, should have some room to express their hard-earned perspective. But this piece struck me as quite harsh and left me, along with others, wondering why the tone was so strong.

Bravo to Art for that.

What's even more hilarious than how off-base Longman's main point was is the notion that Jones shouldn't attempt to take advantage of her inherent beauty for monetary gain. In contemporary America, there's nothing more "American" than this, and media outfits like the Times are responsible for a lot of it. And you know what else? Why doesn't Mr. Longman write up a column about possibly the greatest style-over-substance personality in modern memory: One Barack Obama, president of the United States, and a person the NY Times has supported without fail since he became a candidate for the highest office in the land?

Posted by Hube at August 9, 2012 01:37 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

The better comparison for LoLo isnt Anna, its Maria Sharapova. But that comparison wouldnt have fit the his opinion.

Posted by: Arthur at August 9, 2012 02:18 PM

Yeah, the NYT is way off-base in regards to Lolo Jones. What I've noticed is that this year, a lot of the MSM has been focused on frivolous criticism of the athletes, instead of supporting them. They also went after Gabby Douglas for her hair; most of the criticism there came from black women, FWIW. Another reason why Jones is being criticized is because she's Christian, too. They've also gone after a few other female athletes this year, too.

Posted by: Carl at August 9, 2012 02:42 PM

Yeah, the NYT is way off-base in its criticism of Lolo Jones, who not only is beautiful but also an accomplished athlete. It seems to me that the MSM this year has been criticizing American Olympic athletes for frivolous reasons, instead of supporting them. First they go after Gabby Douglas becuase of her hair; most of the criticism came from black women celebrities, from what I can tell. They went after a few other female athletes, too. A big reason why Jones has been targeted is because she recently said that she was a Christian and a Tim Tebow fan, which to the MSM is a big no-no.

Posted by: Carl at August 9, 2012 02:50 PM

The writer is not only off-base, he must be a mind reader to know what Lolo has bought into.

Kudos to the editor.

Posted by: Sara Noble at August 16, 2012 12:43 PM