Marin Coogan’s “The psycho-sexual ordeal of reporting in Washington”

I’m not a great fan of the New Republic, but I have to say I was interested in a recent article titled "The psycho-sexual ordeal of reporting in Washington" written by Marin Cogan, who is a contributing writer at GQ magazine. It concerns her experiences (and those of her colleagues) as a female journalist in Washington, DC, and how an interaction that would otherwise be a friendly "let’s have a talk over drinks" (which is apparently a usual way to have a talk with politicians) becomes, in the mind of some, a predecessor to a night at her place.

As a tech journalist, I’ve never experienced quite that level of presumption. I remember one tech party in Las Vegas many years ago sponsored by a tech magazine where the editors, men and women, were told to wear formal attire. Afterwards, several of the younger female editors (I was an old lady of about 35 at the time) complained that their garb had become a signal for some of the guests to lay hands where they shouldn’t have (perhaps they thought the 20-somethings were Vegas showgirls rather than editors). However, most of my own experiences, especially when I was younger, had more to do with the assumption that I couldn’t possibly understand what a hard drive was, or that it was appropriate to send me costume jewelry as a bribe to get a review.

Here is my favorite quote from the story:

This is to say nothing of the idea that we might prostitute ourselves for a communications director, a Department of Defense staffer, or—for the love of God!—a White House intern. One woman reporter who covers national politics remembers going out with a regional Obama fund-raiser who seemed particularly impressed with himself. Over a round of overpriced margaritas at Washington’s Lauriol Plaza, the fund-raiser turned to the reporter and asked suggestively, “Would you ever sleep with a source for a story?” She replied: “If I did, it would be with someone much higher up the command chain than you.”


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