CNN is catching some heat for publishing -- then removing -- a story about how hormones allegedly impact female voters. Clearly a controversial subject, the article was based on an unpublished study. In the end, the outlet obviously felt that it was a mistake to advance it, because editors yanked the piece offline just hours after it went live. The Atlantic reports:
In a matter of hours, CNN published and removed a story about how hormones influence women voters, one that made claims about how women tend to lean liberal when ovulating because they "feel sexier." The story was based on an unpublished scientific study -- insert scare quotes as needed -- from researchers at the University of Texas, San Antonio that looked at the political tendencies of 275 women at various stages of their menstrual cycle. Broadly speaking, the study concluded that, yes, women's voting patterns do vary based on their hormones, and CNN galvanized the idea with a blog post flanked by pictures of Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Here are some portions of the now-scrubbed CNN article, as delivered by the Washington Post's Alexandra Petri:
“While the campaigns eagerly pursue female voters, there’s something that may raise the chances for both presidential candidates that’s totally out of their control: women’s ovulation cycles.
“You read that right. New research suggests that hormones may influence female voting choices differently, depending on whether a woman is single or in a committed relationship.” [...]
“The most controversial part of the study is not only that hormonal cycles are linked to women’s preferences for candidates and voting behaviors, but also that single women who are ovulating are more likely to be socially liberal, and relationship-committed women are more likely to be socially conservative, said Paul Kellstedt, associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University.”
Responses to the article ranged from annoyed to cynical. New York Magazine, using the opportunity to take aim at conservatives, wrote, "Please do not share this 'science' with the Republican lawmaker in your life. He might actually believe it. The Huffington Post, too, created a list of purportedly dumb quotes that were included in the piece.
Author Elizabeth Landau, though, defended the article, writing on Twitter, "For the record, I was reporting on a study to be published in a peer-reviewed journal & included skepticism. I did not conduct the study."
CNN has replaced the piece with a disclaimer, reading, "A post previously published in this space regarding a study about how hormones may influence voting choices has been removed. After further review it was determined that some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN."
A screen shot from the CNN health article that has now been removed.
So, there you have it. It should be noted that CNN's response -- a claim that the article violates standards -- is interesting, especially considering that Landau has publicly defended her actions.