Edward Lucas, a senior editor at The Economist, sometimes slums it at the British tabloid Daily Mail, where he’s allowed to write at length, say, about the “undeniable sexual magnetism” of recently freed Ukranian politician Yulia Tymoshenko. In his column this week, titled “Don’t be fooled by her angelic looks, she’s as ruthless as she’s corrupt,” Lucas goes on and on about Tymoshenko’s “charm,” her “legendary” and also “immaculate blonde tresses and sometimes kittenish ways.” The “Russia expert” reports, “I have interviewed her many times. Her body language, eyes, coquettish tosses of the head and cooing tones are almost hypnotic.”
And: “An ambassador once told me that a two-hour journey he spent in her sound-proofed, tinted-window limousine was the most sexually threatening experience of his life.”
Confronted about the unconcealed sexism in what he called his “scathing take,” Lucas could only shrug, because at least a lot of people read it.
In the comments of the National Journal’s critique, “This Take on Ukraine’s Yulia Tymoshenko Reads Like a Bad Parody of Misogyny,” Lucas explained, “I would note in my defence that the Daily Mail is a paper where [sic] femaile journalists are not allowed to wear trousers in the office because it offends the editor, and where a large chunk of each issue is taken up with sneering picture stories about women who have ‘let themselves go’ (ie aged) or have had ‘work done’ (ie tried to disguise its effects).”
Asked to confirm he left the comment, Lucas told Daily Intelligencer, “It is my writing. I make no secret of my disagreement with the Daily Mail on lots of issues, notably Europe where I am a passionate Europhile and they are virulenlty against. But if I wrote only for papers I agreed with, I would have much less chance of promoting the ideas I care about.” The Daily Mail, apparently, doesn’t much care if its writers believe it to be ridiculous either.
“The money is good, but the real point is impact,” Lucas added when asked if the decision to write for a publication he thinks so low of was financial in nature. “I reach 3 [million] people via the Daily Mail and if I can disabuse them of even a few of their misapprehensions, it’s worth it. For the same reason I accept invites to go on Fox and Glenn Beck.”
“I also think that the article is accurate in its depiction of Mrs. Timoshenko,” he added. So the Daily Mail was probably the right fit after all.