Diary

The New York Times subtle hit piece on Carly Fiorina

After having noted recently that Carly Fiorina had been getting very little “free” press, I found this story in The New York Times:

For Carly Fiorina, Peripatetic Childhood Helped Build Worldview

By Jason Horowitz | November 26, 2015

Carly Fiorina with her father, Joseph Tyree Sneed III, an esteemed conservative law professor, in 2006. Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (Click to enlarge)

The 1969 Stanford Law School yearbook notified readers that Joseph Tyree Sneed III, a top professor with Harvard, Yale and Cornell on his résumé, would be taking leave from the California university to teach for a year in London and Ghana.

Joining him would be his wife, Madelon, who “paints and plays tennis,” and his three children, including his middle daughter, Cara, a burgeoning pianist who went by her middle name, Carleton. Today, Carleton is better known as Carly Fiorina, the presidential candidate who courts Republican voters with the story of her against-all-odds rise from the secretarial pool to chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, or, as she was introduced in Beaufort, S.C., one Friday last month, from the “reception desk to the boardroom.”

But Mrs. Fiorina’s father was not just any Republican. He was one of the country’s most esteemed conservative law professors, a Duke Law School dean whom President Richard M. Nixon appointed as a deputy attorney general and then a federal judge. His opinions on issues like California’s so-called three strikes law for repeat offenders influenced the Supreme Court, and his advocacy for a brilliant student named Kenneth Starr influenced American history.

And in those “fast-forward” years, she got to perform Shakespeare at a school in London with the future head of the English department at King’s College, Cambridge, and woke to the sounds of Muslims praying in Ghana as she followed her father on his teaching appointments.

There’s more at the link.

Neither the Fiorina campaign directly nor her SuperPAC site publicized this article through Twitter, something that they are both usually good at doing, and I can see why: it’s a subtle hit piece, trying to push the notion that, as a student, the then-Cara Carleton Sneed¹ was privileged — which is true enough — and a snob, which is probably not the case.

The reader is meant to question Mrs Fiorina’s campaign biography, that she started out as a secretary, and worked her way up to being Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard, without the reporter ever saying that her story is false. Because she grew up in a fairly affluent family, well, we’re just supposed to assume she’d never really have started out as a secretary, but even The Washington Post confirmed that Mrs Fiorina “worked as a receptionist at a hair salon to pay for college room and board,” worked as a secretary through the temp agency Kelly Services, and was “a receptionist at Marcus & Millichap, a commercial property brokerage firm with nine or ten employees at the time.” She was given more and more responsibilities at Marcus & Millichap, and gained more and more experience. In just fifteen years she went from an entry-level employee to leading AT&T’s spin-off of Lucent Technologies and, later, Lucent’s North American operations. Hewlett-Packard later selected her to become CEO. While the latter parts of her biography are beyond question — and the Times is perfectly happy to not question that she was later fired by Hewlett-Packard, something Mrs Fiorina freely admits — the reporter wants you to think that the earlier parts might be not quite accurate.

It has been said that all publicity is good publicity, and thus, even though Mrs Fiorina’s campaign has not (yet) chosen to publicize this article, I have.² It needs to be publicized, and the subtle bias in it pointed out.
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Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.
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¹ – The Times story noted that she told Jay Pittard, an old high school friend, that she was going by Carly because she had grown tired of explaining to the draft board that Carleton, a traditional Sneed family name, was a girl’s name. As a man named Dana, I can completely sympathize with her problems!
² – I support Mrs Fiorina’s candidacy, but I am not affiliated with the campaign in any way, nor have I been paid anything to write and publish this article.