After seven hours of backlash Wednesday, CNN took down an online article suggesting a relationship between women’s hormones and their voting patterns. While the story was both offensive and scientifically unsound, CNN should not have removed it. The network should own up to all of the news it posts—even poor stories—in order to maintain its integrity in media.
The article reported on a study conducted through internet surveys of 275 women with regular menstrual cycles who were not taking a hormonal contraceptive. The study reported that while ovulating, single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women for Romney, by a margin of at least 20 percent.
It was further purported that “when women are ovulating, they “feel sexier.” This would cause single women to lean toward more liberal views on marriage equality and abortion while committed women, trying to resist these “sexy” urges, would vote more conservatively.
The article immediately received a deluge of scathing but justified criticism. For reducing women to slaves of their hormones, the study was totally unfounded. Its initial hypothesis was discriminatory, meaning the surveys may have reflected a bias that impacted the results. Furthermore, the small sample size, the lack of a control variable and the complete reliance on voluntary response also make the study questionable.
Writer Elizabeth Landau even noted in the article that several political scientists had deemed the conclusions of the study invalid. So why write an article treating it as legitimate? Such journalism plays into the historic misrepresentation of women as untrustworthy and weak because of certain biological “limitations.”
CNN claimed they removed the story for having not passed through the proper editorial channels. Obviously, however, it made it through somehow. As a published piece, the network should have answered for it instead of avoiding confrontation by taking down the post.
CNN’s choice to cover up its mistake rather than confront the question of why such a study was developed to publication in the first place gives readers no reason to trust the network in the future. To earn the trust of the public, CNN must account for its good and its bad publishing decisions. Taking a story down just doesn’t cut it.