A heroine gets her due

KateCoverYesterday, the Washington Post ran a profile of Kate Michelman. I'm not sure if they were trying to push her new book or push her appearance before the Alito hearings today, but they were pushing something. If NARAL Pro-Choice America itself had written the piece, it probably would have had more perspective. Yes, it was in the Style section. But really. Beginning with the headline ("Kate Michelman, The Public Face of a Woman's Right to Privacy"), the piece is just puffy. I can think of many controversial people who would like such unblinkingly positive coverage in the Post.

Kate Michelman is the face of reproductive rights. It's a thin face with high cheekbones, dark eyes that can light up and a mouth with a corner that upturns at comic moments.

Staff writer Linton Weeks delves deep to teach us that Michelman organized sales to benefit Mexican farm workers as a teenager. She makes food from scratch and loves to wash dishes. She reads a lot ("every word in every paragraph") and watches "24." And then this:

Personality tests, she said, always told her what she already knew. She is an introvert. Her personal story, she said, pushed her into prominence.

Maybe it was reflecting earlier this week on that wonderful Los Angeles Times piece that makes this saccharine hagiography so difficult to stomach. Apparently the rest of the media did not get the memo that more even-handed coverage of abortion issues was permissible. While I'm sympathetic to writing so positively about controversial figures who have since retired from public life, this very controversial woman was testifying against Alito today, not 20 years ago.

While no critics of Michelman were found, Linton did share this quote from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:

Albright told everyone that Michelman had provided "a voice for those who didn't have a voice and a brain for those who didn't have a brain."

Yikes. No comment.

Next time the Post profiles someone, I hope they can provide a bit more perspective. I certainly got nothing out of this piece. And that's a shame, because I'd love to know more about Michlelman.

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