Discussing the creepy sexual relationship between Kate Mara's and Kevin Spacey's characters in House of Cards — she plays a young political reporter, he plays a senior member of Congress — The New Republic's Marin Cogan examines why and how often D.C. men mistake "the rituals of cultivating sources" for "the rituals of courtship." It's an excellent, thoughtful article — and full of juicy anonymous tidbits that could read as blind items about power-abusing Washington pervs. For instance:
"[A]s a Hill reporter, one of my best source relationships with a member of Congress ended after I remarked that I looked like a witch who might hop on a broom in my new press-badge photo and he replied that I looked like I was 'going to hop on something.'"
"One colleague had a high-profile member of Congress go out of his way to track down her cell-phone number, call and text repeatedly to tell her she was beautiful, offer to take her parents on a tour of the Capitol, and even invite her to go boating back home in his district."
"One Washington climate reporter remembers an environmentalist stroking her leg at one such outing and noting, disapprovingly, that she hadn’t shaved."
You'd think even the dirtiest old man could learn, at a bare minimum, to contain himself when speaking to a journalist — the whole purpose of that relationship is for one party to inform the world about the other. And yet Cogan's anecdotes are the kind that female journalists often tell each other but rarely put in print or acknowledge to outsiders. Why? In House of Cards, characters keep secrets to enhance their power; silence is part of the favor economy. Real women, like the ones in Cogan's article, worry about blowback: "Complaining makes it seem like you're humble-bragging or that you're delusional," one reporter told TNR. The article closes with the example of Lisa DePaulo facing heavy scrutiny after a 1994 profile of Ed Rendell showed the Philadelphia mayor describing "in raw and alliterative terms, how he presumes I am in bed." The implication: Calling out pervs overburdens the caller-outer.
In the nineteen years since DePaulo became "the lady in red," we have become more sensitive to sexual power dynamics and the insidiousness of victim blame. (DePaulo "happened to be wearing a red suit" the day her story came out. "Anywhere else, who cares, but in Philadelphia I'm Hester Prynne.") But at the same time, media has also become louder, faster, farther-reaching. Consequently, allowing your name to appear in the vicinity of even a whiff of a sex scandal remains intimidating. So we arrive, again, in a world where that oxymoronic concept, "open secrets among journalists," remains intact. (The phenomenon varies in different reporting niches. Writing about grotesque overtures from Dov Charney, for example, is all but expected.) How congressmen interact with women is at least as important as how they eat or the way they shake hands — the type of "color" details we usually get in political articles.
And, c'mon, it's juicy.
Most Viewed Stories
Everything We Know About Brad Pitt’s Plane Incident
It’s Time to Get Over Your White Feelings and Start Taking Action for Black Lives
25 Famous Women on Being Alone
Jaden Smith on the Many Subtle Flavors of Water
Kim Kardashian Might Vote for Donald Trump
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
If You See Brad Pitt As a Fallen Hero, It’s Because the Rules Have Changed
Taylor Swift’s Squad Begged Kim Kardashian for Mercy
Bask in the Glory of This Dramatic Email Sent to a UCLA Freshman by Her Future Roommate
Kylie Jenner’s Getting Sucked Into Tyga’s Debt Problems
From Our Partners
Who What Wear
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesAva DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.Santigold’s New Video Is the Result of a Spontaneous Run-in With Kara Walker
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Spotted Together Again, Love Might Be Real
They could be back together ahh!Teen, Forced to Go on Vacation With Her Family, Calls 911
The logical decision.Report: Hearst Fired Seventeen EIC Michelle Tan During Her Maternity Leave
Tan had been at the magazine for about two years.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.Miles Teller Is Still Upset About Being Called a Dick
He wants to set the record straight.Why Parents Shouldn’t Talk About Weight With Their Teens
New guidelines seek to banish weight talk.UVA Student Assaulted at Knifepoint During Orientation Weekend
But some students weren't notified until 24 hours later.