Think Before You Publish

November 9th, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

A story suggesting women’s hormones rule their voting decisions gets beaten up in the press.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

In the weeks leading up to the presidential election, not every day is guaranteed to be a news day. A lack of big news may have factored into CNN’s decision to publish an article about a study that suggests women’s voting decisions are heavily influenced by their ovulation cycles.

The article was based on unpublished data gathered by researchers at the University of Texas, San Antonio. The study looked at the political leanings of 502 women in various stages of their ovulation cycles, and the researchers concluded that when estrogen levels are high, single women are more likely to vote for Obama, while women in relationships are more likely to vote for Romney.

The firestorm of criticism that followed the article was so severe that it prompted CNN to remove the post entirely. Now, if you follow the link to the story, you’ll find a headline that says the posts was removed from the site after further review found that “some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN.”

Facing increasing criticism from writers at The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, MSNBC, Jezebel and more, the story’s author, Elizabeth Landau, defended herself on Twitter, writing that she “was reporting on a study to be published in a peer-reviewed journal & included skepticism.” That wasn’t enough for Adam Clark Estes of The Atlantic Wire, who wrote, “That’s sort of like publishing a story about the other people justifying white supremacists and then explaining, ‘I didn’t say those racist things.’”

So where do you fall? Was CNN right to take down the story and leave its author to fend for herself? Or should the story never have been published in the first place? Weigh in here.