Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz takes portraits of five women running for president

Posted at 11:40 AM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 13:40:46-04

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

“Madam President?”

“They have smashed our stubborn assumptions about powerful women and permanently changed our notion of what a presidential election looks like.”

That’s what the six women running for president have already accomplished, Amy Chozick writes.

For this big new feature for Vogue, Chozick spoke with five of the six, Marianne Williamson being the odd one out. And Annie Leibovitz photographed the five in a photo shoot that’s for the history books.

In one of the photos, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris are seen clasping hands and Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are high-fiving while Representative Tulsi Gabbard looks on.

Down with the “electability” debate

Media double standards are a theme of Chozick’s story, although she notes the candidates are reticent to talk about the subject.

Chozick, who covered Hillary Clinton for The New York Times in 2016, knows of what she writes: The 2020 candidates, she says, have “reminded us of the hurdles, bordering on bulwarks, that women at the highest level of American politics still face. To many of us, watching the 2020 race unfold has felt less like a celebration of rah-rah feminism and more like a daily, live-tweeted, televised pelting by the patriarchy. Indeed, we cannot assess any of these candidates without also assessing our own biases. Debates about who is ‘electable’ (or not) have become a smokescreen for lingering discomfort with what we have still, after 243 years as a republic, never seen: the election of a woman president.”

Something liberating…

This paragraph in Chozick’s story stood out to me: “One of the upsides to running in 2020 is that nothing much is a shocker anymore. Porn stars and Russian hackers? The president of the United States, in a span of a couple of days, picking fights with Meghan Markle and Bette Midler? Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I see something liberating—particularly for female candidates—in Trump’s subverting of traditional political norms… because women presidents aren’t the norm either. Thanks to Trump and a news cycle that is suffering from acute attention-deficit disorder (Avenatti who?), women candidates, perhaps, don’t have to worry so much about being perfect, about biting their tongue and saying what they think voters want to hear.” Read on…

Marianne missing

Some of Williamson’s fans criticized Vogue for excluding her from the feature and the photo shoot. Williamson, an author and spiritual adviser, was mentioned in the feature, but there is no indication that she was interviewed.

The reason: The five other women are all members of congress, and Williamson is not.

“We’re in no way discrediting Marianne Williamson and all she’s accomplished,” a Vogue spokeswoman told CNN Business in a statement. “For the photo, Vogue wanted to highlight the five female lawmakers who bring a collective 40 years of political experience to this race.”

In case you missed it…

— The headlines from CNN’s post-debate polling: Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren rise while Joe Biden slides… (CNN)

SHOT: NBC’s headline about a new study by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville: “Study shows Russian propaganda may really have helped Trump…” (NBC)

CHASER: “No, Russian Twitter trolls didn’t demonstrably push Trump’s poll numbers higher,” Philip Bump writes, rightly casting doubt on the study… (WaPo)

This is how it works…

Don’t miss Donie O’Sullivan’s deep dive for CNN Business: “How Kamala Harris conspiracies festered online before making it to Trump Jr.”

He says “some of the same people” involved in spreading the anti-Obama birthrer conspiracy “are involved in circulating the false claims about Harris…”