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September 14, 2006
The Media As Yenta

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...

Given the tensions in the world today, one would think that newspapers covering Condoleezza Rice's visit to our northern neighbor might focus on our foreign policy, especially war policy in Afghanistan, where Canadians continue to fight with distinction. Her meeting with Foreign Minister Peter MacKay should have prompted diplomatic inquiries about the softwood lumber dispute or continuing negotiations regarding passport requirements and border security. Instead, prurience trumped professionalism as reporters spent their time wondering how to get these two wonderful kids together, according to the Times of London:

In the latest demonstration of the perils of being an attractive, articulate, female — and single — Dr Rice, the US Secretary of State, returned from an official visit to Canada yesterday with the North American press obsessed with one issue. It was not the number of Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

After spending two days in the company of Peter MacKay, Canada’s handsome, athletic — and single — foreign minister, Dr Rice’s aides were, not for the first time, dismissing fevered speculation about her relationship with a diplomatic counterpart.

“No, there were no candles,” Sean McCormick, a State Department spokesman replied with tired resignation when reporters asked about a working dinner that Dr Rice and Mr MacKay shared on Monday night. “It was a well-lighted [sic] dinner, with electricity-based lighting.”

He added that it was hardly an intimate affair, as 14 aides and six security guards also attended.

I don't think Americans or Canadians really want to consider the implications of a cross-border romance, especially given MacKay's luck with women in the workplace. It gives a bad connotation to the previously innocuous phrase diplomatic relations.

All kidding aside, this points up two problems with the media: they cannot keep from fixating on Rice's marital status and they cannot be relied upon to remain serious. If Rice looked like Helen Thomas, the first problem may not even arise, but her appealing physical appearance and lack of a wedding ring seem to have become an obsession with the media. During the 2004 election, some speculated that she considered George Bush her "husband", so close was their professional relationship. Apparently the media is convinced that a woman cannot remain single and still refrain from sexual entanglements in the workplace -- a rather chauvinistic attitude for such a supposedly enlightened profession.

If Rice even had an inclination to date these days, she wouldn't choose to do so in such a public forum, not with these Yentas around. A serious woman wants none of the Hollywood gossip treatment, especially a woman trying to hold together an anti-terror coalition that always appears on the verge of splitting apart. The main main in her life right now would most likely be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and it won't be because of his wit and sparkling personality.

We're a nation at war. Perhaps North American journalists need some outside diversion, but the rest of us don't follow Rice's activities because we're hoping Brad Pitt will join her on the sly. The times are interesting enough without the high-school snickering.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 14, 2006 5:23 AM

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Tracked on September 14, 2006 10:49 AM


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