Senators Go to Bat for Sinema Over 'Sexist' NYT Coverage

Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Jeanne Shaheen slam paper for focusing on Ariz. senator's clothes
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2021 8:30 AM CST
Senators Go to Bat for Sinema Over 'Sexist' NYT Coverage
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Oct. 19, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP, File)

Kyrsten Sinema has become known for her "penchant for patterns and bold colors" in a Senate chamber that's "still largely buttoned up," as the Hill puts it. That's a problem, though—not the Arizona senator's choice of clothing, but the plethora of headlines about it. That's according to three of Sinema's colleagues, who penned a letter to the editor on Friday in the New York Times, criticizing the paper for its "sexist" focus on what the Democratic senator wears to work.

"The Times has published four separate pieces analyzing the style and dress of our colleague Senator Kyrsten Sinema," write GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, along with Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. "We cannot imagine the Times printing similar pieces on the fashion choices of any of our male colleagues." The trio calls Sinema "a serious, hardworking member of the Senate who contributes a great deal to the policy deliberations before us," adding: "Your repeated focus on how she dresses, rather than what she says and does, is demeaning, sexist, and inappropriate."

Sinema herself this week broached the "relentless fashion critiques," per Politico, which touched on the controversy in a wide-ranging conversation with the senator. "It's very inappropriate," she told the outlet. "I wear what I want because I like it. It's not a news story, and it's no one's business." She added: "It's not helpful to have [coverage] be positive or negative. It also implies that somehow women are dressing for someone else."

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Although the New York Times hasn't addressed why it's spent so much column space on Sinema's attire, it has responded to the senators' letter. "The aim of our Opinion coverage is to invite intelligent discussion from informed people with a diversity of opinions and ideas," spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha tells the Hill. "We believe in open debate and always welcome reactions such as the Senators' letter to the editor." As for Sinema's take to her colleagues' letter? "Work Hard. Be Yourself," she tweeted Friday in reference to it. (More Kyrsten Sinema stories.)

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