A well-known New York Times media writer is under fire from late-night TV personality Chelsea Handler. TheWrap.com reports that E! host Handler went after The Times’ Bill Carter over an article that referenced her in a parenthetical aside, which she called out as showing gender bias.
In an op-ed piece in The Huffington Post, Handler wrote, “Until now, I have dismissed the assumption that my experience in late night TV is somehow different or exceptional because of my gender. To me, it’s never been about being a woman in a man’s world; it’s been about delivering a consistently funny and entertaining show each night.”
She noted she was referenced in a piece in The New York Times by Carter, called “Bullish on Boyish,” which was about Jimmy Fallon taking over NBC’s “Tonight Show.”
“Understanding all of that, I obviously didn’t expect or want to be a focal point of the piece,” she wrote. “What bothered me was that when I was listed in a paragraph with the late-night hosts, I was the only name put in parentheses. Mr. Carter wrote, ‘(The only female host in late-night is Chelsea Handler, 38, on E!).’”
Handler wrote that she looked up the definition of parenthetical, and found that it means “incidental, subordinate in significance, minor or casual.”
She continues: “The particular paragraph I was mentioned in was about the competition Jimmy faces for younger viewers. Depending upon whose research you look at, I share the distinction of having the youngest average viewership with Colbert, ‘The Daily Show’ and Conan. So from a purely statistical standpoint how, in this paragraph, could I only be mentioned as an aside? Was it because I’m a woman?"
Handler adds: “And just as I don’t want to be inconsequential in any late-night discourse, I also don’t want to be singled-out and lauded merely because I am successful ‘for a woman.’ This isn’t about Bill Carter. This is about being noted as a parenthetical, reaffirming what I feel has been an underlying, yet consistent inconsistency with how I am handled as the only woman in a traditionally male field.”
Carter told TheWrap that he didn’t intend to include a comprehensive list of competitors in his article.
"I suggested the sentence about Chelsea and it was an editing decision to put it in parenthesis,” he said. “I also heard from people for Craig Ferguson and Arsenio who had much better gripes because they got left out altogether and obviously they deserve as much recognition as any of the others. But it was sort of a function of after-the-fact adjustments in the text because of the layout. No slights were intended toward any of these talented people.”