Skip to main content

WTF Is Up With the Media Lately?

WTF Is Up With the Media Lately?

Is it me, or is there something in the media water these days?

First, Forbes published its “100 Most Innovative Leaders” list, which should have been called “The 99 Most Innovative Leaders If We Ignore All of the Innovative Women Out There.” Called out roundly on social media, Forbes quickly apologized.

Then, over the weekend, the New York Times Opinion page tweeted out, in a link to an article on Brett Kavanaugh, that “Having a p*nis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun. But when Brett Kavanaugh did it to her, Deborah Ramirez says, it confirmed that she didn’t belong at Yale in the first place.”

Harmless fun? Harmless fun??

The New York Times then deleted the tweet and said that it had been “poorly phrased,” as if they had made a grammar mistake. Called out again, they later deleted that tweet and apologized.

Lost in these more obvious missteps was a third one you may have missed but that saddened me: It was in the New York Times’ obituary on Elaine La Roche, who was described in its write-up as one of the most powerful women to work on Wall Street.

While I didn’t personally know Ms. La Roche, I certainly knew of her and her success in a male-dominated industry. My guess is that she suffered from, and overcame, sexism in the industry in order to reach her senior positions. I was sorry to see those gender biases perpetuated in her obituary.

In particular, the obituary noted that “she went at it (cost cutting) with a fervor that didn’t win many friends at the firm, where she had already earned a reputation for being brusque, impatient, and given to profanity-laced tirades.”

In other words: What a b*tch.

(Oh, great. Even after you’re dead, the paper of record will still be talking about what a b*tch people thought you were.)

If the New York Times had only read one of their very own articles, following their New Rules Summit (on gender) just this summer, they would know that: “Research has found that when women exhibit character traits typically associated with male leadership — traits like decisiveness, authority, or assertion — they are likely to be viewed as bossy, pushy, or too aggressive, and some people reel at their behavior.” (Itals are mine.)

Lest you think that the easy solution for Ms. La Roche would have been to just lay the heck off, the next paragraph of that article goes on to say, “and yet when women turn around and exhibit the qualities traditionally expected of women — like niceness, nurturing, and warmth — they tend to be perceived as pushovers, too soft, or not ‘tough enough’ to do the job.”

The old damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

As John Mack (former CEO of Morgan Stanley) defended Ms. La Roche in her obituary: “I don’t think anyone would have made those negative comments about her if she was a man.”


And we see this on the pages of the New York Times itself, where at least in my observation, obituaries of Wall Street men rarely include descriptions of their word choices, or of how many friends they had — or didn’t have — at their firms.

So allow me to suggest a rewrite: “Ms. La Roche, like too many women of her generation — and, as we can see from the #MeToo movement, too many of this generation — was the target of sexism, even in death. She was tremendously successful despite this.”

Read the original article here.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


Continue learning with this Ellevate Playbook:

Ellevate Network is a community of professional women committed to helping each other succeed. We use the power of community to help you take the next step in your career.

By sharing your email you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy

By sharing your email you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy


Thank you! Career advice and opportunities are on the way to your inbox.

Add your zip code, so we can invite you to our local events!