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For Men Only

November 25, 2012

Here’s your extra-credit opportunity to comment on a blog and even things up with the women in the class. Your topic: Whether news coverage of the David Petraeus scandal has been sexist.

Over at the online news site The Week, it has been written that:

“Many say the media’s coverage of the scandal surrounding Petraeus’ resignation from the CIA has too often pushed the latter narrative, revealing deep strains of prejudice that have colored the public’s perception of the still-unfolding controversy. And with the introduction of another woman, Jill Kelley, the media’s portrayal of the episode has only devolved further into a Real Housewives-like burlesque of petty cat-fights and hysterics.”

What’s your take? From what you’ve read or heard or seen, have you detected a sexist bias in the coverage from reliable news sources? (We’re not considering any other kind.) Or has the coverage you’ve found been solid? Reply here briefly, and include a link (embedded, if you know how to do that).

No other commentary will be accepted. If you haven’t been following this story via reliable sources, or if you think it’s not a story, or if you have some commentary other than what I’ve solicited here, you can’t post. Thoughtful replies only, please.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Brandon Kirsch permalink
    November 25, 2012 8:22 pm

    I think the coverage of the David Petraeus scandal has been unbiased. When was the last time you heard of a women being involved in an extramarital affair or scandal. It is unfortunately, mostly males whom commit these acts. When there are no incidents of woman doing the same, how can you take sexism into account at all with this story.

    In one PBS article ( I found that they provided almost all the necessary pieces of information to take a neutral stance. They described Petraeus’s credentials as well as the mistresses he slept with; showing both positive and negative. The PBS article did a good job of providing the story, but not interfering with your opinion on it.

  2. Rebecca Dallman permalink
    November 27, 2012 12:18 pm

    I do believe the media outlets have not been bias about their coverage. However, I think the story has been dragged out, and is now becoming more of a joke than anything. America is used to hearing this type of news story, it is not the first sex scandal thats ever happened. As Brandon said above, it is mostly men who seem to be having these secret love affairs. The follow up stories are informative, but I feel as if the people who are reading these stories are now laughing. It is a serious topic that should not be taken lightly, if this affair was distracting him from his job.

    The Huffington Post posted this article, which pretty much proves my point about this story.

    • Rebecca Dallman permalink
      November 27, 2012 12:20 pm

      I just realized the title “For Men Only” meant men could only comment on this topic…. and I do not know how to erase this! 😦

  3. November 27, 2012 12:47 pm

    My belief is that overall the news coverage of the David Petraeus scandal has been fair. There are always news sources that are going to hype the coverage of particular stories.They feel that by adding controversy and biased opinions it boosts their rating. But essentially the core of the story has been reported the correct way. News sources have
    stated the actual facts of the actions taken place in this ongoing situation.

    In the CNN article ( It states the facts and actual proof of the letter of resignation from Petraeus. It also features the actual statement made by president Obama regarding the resignation of the former CIA director. So in my opinion these articles proves the unbiased take in this story, focusing on the actual facts and actions that revolve around this scandal.

  4. Jerome Reed permalink
    November 27, 2012 12:59 pm

    I think that the coverage of this scandal has been somewhat biased when you compare it to other stories in the past. I do not think that Petraeus is the only victim here. He obviously has done his fair share of wrong in this. However, nobody seems to speak about the role the woman took in this. The focus is on Petraeus and the woman seems to be only mentioned when the question “Well, what is the name of this woman?”, is asked.

    In this Huffington Post article, (, it speaks about how Paula Broadwell is getting ridicule basically because of her gender (and the fact that she sent emails to Jill Kelley about this matter.) But if the male were to do this, it would get this much flack.

    It really could go either way, depending on your individual beliefs. All I know is, if the gender roles were switched, the articles you see about this matter would be entirely different. Which is sad, but hey, that’s America for you.

  5. Jared Atticus Steinmetz permalink
    November 27, 2012 3:41 pm

    I do believe that the coverage has been fair. Most of my new sources tend to only quote reliable people about what has occurred, not their opinion on it. The articles will state facts about his actions and his words, rather than try to interpret them. Regardless of anyones gender opinions… Petraeus did commit these acts. Being in the position he is in calls for coverage, the result is constant digging that does not reflect any opinion. This article on USA Today is very transparent with its information, and tells the story from the point of view of his wife. Most of it is on her take of the actions, which are surprisingly neutral. The point I am trying to make is that if there is anything to be biased about, or look for drama in, it’s his wife. Yet the USA Today article reflects very simply on her evaluation of her husbands actions.
    However I must also say, I would be far from surprised if many articles are published that are incredibly biased and sexist. I just haven’t read any.

  6. Mac Scott permalink
    November 27, 2012 4:12 pm

    From what I have observed, media coverage of the General Petraeus situation has not been biased in any way, nor has it been sexist toward men or women. As far as extramarital affair scandals go, this one has been relatively open-and-shut. A man (and a high-ranking, nationally appreciated man at that) was caught cheating, and has thus resigned. Some low-tier news organizations may be spinning the story one way or the other in order to bolster page views and hard-copy subscriptions, but all the news outlets of merit that I viewed managed to keep their opinions and speculations in check.

    This NBC article ( even offers a history of General Petraeus’ service to the United States (while still chronicalling his wrongdoing) so the public can inform themselves on the history of a man about whom they knew very little. Organizations like this, who are willing to take accusations of “defending” General Petraeus in order to better reveal the truth, are the news outlets that the majority of our country should rely on in order to be accurately informed.

  7. November 27, 2012 7:15 pm

    I think the coverage has been fair, focusing on everyone and how they’re involved with each other and other people; the only focus ont he women has been the unfortutunate naming of his biography “All In”.

  8. Jake Johnson (noon) permalink
    November 28, 2012 3:37 am

    I can’t stop thinking that a 4 star generals private life is not news. Is the Media’s coverage of the government turning into a TMZ story? It sure feels like it. That being said, i feel that the coverage of this scandal is unintentionally biased in favor of the general. In this article ( ) it mentions how this scandal will thwart the hiring of women into the CIA. A rather unfair reaction if you ask me. Why should all women be punished because of one generals mistake? It is this example that shows bias in favor of the general.

    So a long story short, yes. The media if focusing on the fault and repercussions of the woman while paying little mind to the mistakes of the general.

  9. James Barrett permalink
    November 28, 2012 12:20 pm

    When looking into the David Petraeus scandal, I found no immediate bias in the coverage. Specifically, the Washington Post had a great link that provided everyone involved in the scandal, how they were involved and their relationship to each other.

    The article labeled “cast of Characters” really puts forth facts and known truths about everyone involved. I believe that The Washington Post did a great job in gathering this information in one place and it would benefit anyone who is trying to find out more about this topic to visit this link.

  10. Brett Sutton permalink
    November 28, 2012 2:01 pm

    After revisiting the story lines of the Petraeus scandal, I’ve come to the conclusion that the coverage was pretty fair. Almost every article I came across described the women involved as unbiased as possible. In fact one article in the NY times spent a lot of time describing Mrs. Broadwell as a great homemaker. (
    Most of the focus has been on the most well known character in this story, General Petraeus. This is also fair as he had the highest rank, therefore he should be receiving the most criticism and attention. Although no one was innocent in this, Petraeus was the one with the most to lose in my opinion and it is not sexist that he was the focus of most articles. The articles I read did not slam or insult him. They simply let be known his credentials, personal history and describe his relationships to the women in this scandal.

  11. Landon Starnes permalink
    November 28, 2012 3:20 pm

    I believe that the coverage of the scandal has been relatively unbiased. There are some news sites that have had sexist coverage, which is not surprising. If there is one thing that we’ve learned in Tom Hanson’s recitation, its that “blood and sex sells.” The focus of the coverage seems to be, “Has any of the wrong information leaked?”
    In this CNN article, (, the affair is only detailed in the last few paragraphs. Instead of focusing on the affair, it is focused on the FBI investigation, all of the people involved, and the security of information. This is only an example from CNN, as a whole CNN has done a good job of being unbiased on the affair. They’ve focused on the facts, for once.

  12. Joseph Hutchinson permalink
    November 28, 2012 5:36 pm

    My opinion regarding this David Patraeus scandal” hasn’t been bias and I would consider it to be fair between the men and women involved. I feel that the major news outlet have covered every side of the story if its regarding the infidelity of Petraeus and Broadwell, or if its with Allen and Kelly. I feel that the only reason someone would see this as sexist towards Patraeus would be because of his position in the government. If it was a women in the same position as him the coverage would be no different. News media outlets try to portray a story that is a lot more dramatic then what it has to be.

    I don’t think there is a sexist bias at all. I just feel that due to his position, he is the one in the limelight and not the women. The women only play the factors of who he created the scandal. For example, in this article ( it asks the question “who is “Jill Kelley?” and I couldn’t find it more appropriate to add this because there really isn’t sexist bias but just media bias towards the main person behind this scandal.

  13. Christian Catlin permalink
    November 28, 2012 6:04 pm

    I think that the coverage of this story has been both biased and unbiased. There are obviously who sides to this story, however some news outlets such as this huffington post article huffington post reporters have been biased. Such as Pat Robertson saying that he couldn’t help it, because hes a man. Also that she is a very good looking woman and that he couldn’t resist.
    On the other hand ABC news coverage gave a very unbiased, true look to both ends of the story considering both to be victims. But there is a clear bias in the majority of news outlets coverage. However, i think of it were a woman general, there would be the same sexism portraying her as the clear victim. If the roles were reversed we would still see bias and sexism.

  14. perryaustin permalink
    November 28, 2012 6:43 pm

    Based on what news has managed to get by this college student, I have not detected any sexist bias in the coverage. It’s a fine line when news organizations report on sex scandals and personal relations. Especially, one that is still developing before our eyes. People need to realize that the whole story is not put together yet. Having said that, it might be easy to infer that there would bee bias. Just look at it this way: scandalous women, powerful men.

  15. njidler permalink
    November 28, 2012 6:48 pm
    This article from the BBC, fairly describes Paula Broadwell as a biographer. She’s not a mistress, she’s not scandalous. This situation isn’t a scandal either, it’s an extramarital affair. There was nothing that someone would be able to link to sexism. I can’t say that I remember hearing or reading any sexism in the coverage of the General Petraeus affair; not in the coverage from reliable sources anyway. Perhaps detecting a tone of sexism in a story can be a clue that a source isn’t all that reliable. I wouldn’t wait for sexism toward one sex or the other to change the channel though. If an event like this is described to be like an episode of Desperate Housewives, an opinion of the story is already being painted for the news consumer.
    (I can’t say where I heard the Desperate Housewives description, but I remember hearing it on a television broadcast.)

  16. Ben Grollman permalink
    November 28, 2012 11:22 pm

    I do not believe that there has been any sexism in the news following the General Patraeus scandal. In most cases of extra-marital affairs, the man who is caught cheating is often vilified. This has been the case for most news stories as Patraeus is in the wrong and while the women involved are discussed, it does not have any sexism or bias present.

    The article from that I read was not sexist at all. It displayed facts that have been validated thus far about the scandal. It refers to both Patraeus and the woman who he was cheating on his wife with. The tone of the article was very neutral which is surprising given that most articles criticized Patraeus every chance they got.

  17. Joshua Magrini permalink
    November 29, 2012 1:04 pm

    I think it’s difficult to determine whether or not the bias present in this article ( is based on the individulal’s gender. I certainly think there is warranted bias based on David Petraeus’ rank in society. I wouldn’t expect the media to go crazy over any extra-marital affair, but this one is different. When it comes to gender, however I feel like there are not enough instances where women are “caught cheating”. This seems to be the typical, run-of-the-mill, celebrity type scandal that media outlets gush over. However, most articles that I’ve come across seem to stay strict to the facts, without much commentary on the man’s ethics.

  18. Clayton Weigel permalink
    December 3, 2012 3:46 pm

    The coverage that I have seen of the David Petraeus scandal has seen unbiased for the most part. Unfortunately for General Petraeus, the facts of the story that have come out have spoken for themselves without the need to further try to demonize him; there isn’t a need for anyone to demonize him even if he is disliked by them, and the truth is sometimes worse that anything someone can conjure up.
    The reason that his extra-marital affair is such big news is because of the timing of it (not that it wouldn’t be big news otherwise, but the timing deems it worthy to be news rather than just another TMZ article). Not only do we not know whether classified information is/was in jeopardy, but we still don’t know whether his fear of his infidelity coming out may have played a role in his original testimony on the Benghazi attack.
    Although I would typically not see an individual’s private life as news worthy, the job title he holds and the other current events surrounding the case make this an exception. Normally I would probably look at this as demonizing a man for cheating (we rarely see women that are in the public eye in this predicament), but David Petraeus’ situation is in its own class altogether.

  19. December 3, 2012 4:06 pm

    I believe that the coverage has been unbiased. I consider the information put forward was fair and equal to people of both genders. I haven’t read an article or heard information that is strongly in favor of a certain race. Many articles put forward the facts and explain who is involved. I sense no bias or sexism any of the articles. Most articles are just putting the information forward.

  20. Chris Roache permalink
    December 4, 2012 3:45 pm

    I believe that the coverage of the Petraeus affair has been fair and in no way sexually biased. Public figures such as David Petraeus are held to the highest standards and the coverage of his affair was objective. In most high profile affairs the one that has committed the act is more often than not male; this unfortunate trend is reality therefore the coverage of the affair to some may seem sexually biased when it is in fact not.
    This CNN article provides raw information regarding the details of Petraeus’ affair and notes all parties involved in a direct and un-biased timeline.

  21. John Carlson permalink
    December 5, 2012 3:24 pm

    I believe that the coverage of the david Petraeus scandal has been fair at least when you get your news about the topic from reliable sources. A highly appointed official such as Petraeus should be held accountable for such lewd actions. Just because a story is filled with sex and scandal dosent mean it is unfair as long as what the are saying is the complete truth.

  22. Andrew Pierre NOON permalink
    December 5, 2012 9:09 pm

    I don’t believe that the news media coverage on the David Petraeus scandal have been biased. They news stories have only been presenting the facts about the affair and other details. I have never heard or a time when a woman who was in a position of great power and respect was caught up in an affair scandal. If there were many scandals that involved powerful women, then we could compare the biases;however, that isn’t the case. It’s sad that this type of situation happens often but there isn’t much anyone can do then to try not to make the same mistake.

    As the story developed it became less about the affair and more about whether U.S. national security was put in jeopardy because off the affair.This article outlines the whole entire story from the affair to the threat of national security. It covers all the bases and remains neutral.

  23. Chris Rowe permalink
    December 6, 2012 12:05 pm

    From what of I’ve seen, the medias coverage of this scandal has been pretty fair, unless your following E! or one of those gossip news stations that exaggerate everything. I found this ABC article to be mostly fair and unbiased.
    It focuses mainly on Petraeus himself rather then the women and I believe this to be appropriate. He is a person who’s job requires great responsibility and when someone in his position does what he did, then it’s going to make big news. I have not seen the media focus on him or any of the women in a sexist way, it’s just another scandal.

  24. Brian Donovan permalink
    December 6, 2012 3:42 pm

    In a New York Times article ( and a pbs video transcript ( about the scandal i found the coverage to not be sexist and if anything was more inclined to make Petraeus seem like anything but an adulterer by mentioning his record as a general and a CIA official, probably (I know a weasel word but I am not a government inspector so I cannot be sure) to prove why the scandal did not make Patreaus an incompetent leader and thus proving that other government officials were not incompetent and salvaging some of the governments collective reputation in this day and age where belief in the American government seems to be on the wane (in my unprofessional opinion). However the video of the pbs transcript had the tones of peoples voices and visual effects that did make the story seem like a dramatic catfight so maybe this should serve as a lesson that bias is often hidden in attitude and not in information.

  25. Robby Llewellyn permalink
    December 6, 2012 3:50 pm

    I think that overall the news coverage of the David Petraeus scandal has been sexually biased. There are always news sources that are going to hype the coverage of particular stories by adding controversy and biased opinions it boosts their ratings. Essentially the core of the story has been reported the correct way using compelling facts. But some news sources have stated the facts of the actions taken place in this ongoing situation while adding pieces of their opnion about the scandal that come off as sexist. But that does’t mean that there story is false.
    This article on CNN reports the scandal using the same pieces of information, leaving out any form of sexual bias that may sway the reader opnion of the story’s validity.

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