Don’t Posit ‘What Women Think’ Without Quoting Any
Immediately after Ann Romney’s speech to the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, some major media outlets reported the GOP plan had worked: Ann Romney connected with women. Why did they think that was the case? A male Republican strategist told them so.
Reuters, discussing Romney’s success with this connection, first quoted a male delegate and then quoted Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak, who said, “This is a real woman who convincingly talked about their ‘real marriage’ in a way that was unquestionably appealing to women everywhere.”
It is not until three paragraphs from the end of a 26-paragraph piece that the article quoted a woman, Anita McBride. She’s the former chief of staff to former first lady Laura Bush and currently an executive-in-residence at American University, where she specializes in the role of US first ladies. But McBride didn’t say whether or not Romney connected with women, at least in the quote; instead, she noted that Romney was “forced to expose a little more because people are trying to connect [to her].”
The Los Angeles Times fell into the same trap. In its article about whether Ann Romney’s speech connected with women voters, the first quote is also from a male, in this case Republican strategist Mark McKinnon:
I can’t think of a thing she could have done any better. Her job was to humanize her husband, and it was hard to watch that speech and not come away with a better impression of Mitt Romney. She gave him dimension and compassion. And made him real. She connected. Big time.
But the woman quoted next, Rutgers political scientist Susan Carroll, said she wasn’t sure that Ann Romney’s warmth was enough, and doesn’t comment on whether she connected with female voters. “She comes across as very likable, very real. But the challenge for the campaign is that her husband doesn’t,” Carroll said.