Lolo Jones Fights Tears In Response To NYT Attack On Her

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For some completely insane reason, a New York Times reporter wrote a hit piece on American hurdler Lolo Jones on the eve of her big Olympic race. It was one of the most brutal and vicious attack jobs against a female athlete I’ve ever seen. And it speaks volumes about the confusing messages our daughters receive about self-esteem, virtue and success.

The utterly bizarre screed was written by Jeré Longman. It reads like Longman wrote it after asking Lolo Jones out on a date and she declined. It’s part misogynistic attack, part error-prone analysis and part Christianphobia screed.

Whatever else it was, the piece was just odd.

For background, Lolo Jones is a world-class athlete. From Wikipedia, we learn “She won three NCAA titles and garnered 11 All-American honors while at LSU. She won indoor national titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009 in the 60 m hurdles, with gold medals at the World Indoor Championship in 2008 and 2010. She was favored to win the 100 m hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but she tripped on the penultimate hurdle, finishing in seventh place. She went on to win silver at the 2008 World Athletics Final. Jones is the American record holder in the 60m hurdles with a time of 7.72.” She’s also very attractive and has received quite a few sponsorships. Oh, and she’s an evangelical Christian who has spoken about her faith.

Longman writes:

Judging from this year’s performances, Lolo Jones seems to have only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold.

Still, Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.

Women have struggled for decades to be appreciated as athletes. For the first time at these Games, every competing nation has sent a female participant. But Jones is not assured enough with her hurdling or her compelling story of perseverance. So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.

What the what? See, New York Times thinks it’s hypocritical of Jones to show off her body and then not put out. It’s the most bizarre slut shaming I’ve seen this year. Apparently the New York Times thinks she’s to blame for the media attention she’s received. And is a fraud and a traitor to her sex.

It gets worse:

In 2009, Jones posed nude for ESPN the Magazine. This year, she appeared on the cover of Outside magazine seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon. At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow.

The ESPN picture and Outside magazine shoot are things that could appear — easily — in the New York Times. In fact, far more risque things have appeared in the New York Times. But where in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks does the reporter get off saying that a completely normal Outside magazine photo shoot (albeit one that apparently moved the reporter quite deeply) puts her at odds with being Christian, a virgin or a Tim Tebow fan? That tells us a great deal about the reporter and more or less nothing with Jones.

It’s not like either photo gave evidence that Jones was not a virgin. Not at all.

The piece omits key facts about her racing history, such as that she was favored to win in 2008 or holds an American record for hurdling.

The piece ends by ripping Jones, again, for being attractive and appealing.

Or, as Isaac Rauch explained it over at Deadspin:

In sum: Lolo Jones “proclaims herself” a virgin and a Christian, but has posed for two magazine covers over the course of three years that might be titillating if you don’t have the internet. As it has with many other athletes, the media has allocated attention to her because she’s more interesting than most of her peers. She’s comfortable talking about a troubled childhood in public; other athletes aren’t. She sent out a tweet which the Times edited and took out of context to make her look bad. She’s not as a good hurdler as she was four years ago.

If Longman wanted to cut Jones down, he succeeded a bit. While Jones easily made it to the finals, she finished 4th yesterday, just outside medal contention. And that has to hurt.

Watching this Lolo Jones interview, where she chokes up in response to the hit piece, makes me want to punch Longman, and then go on CNN and discuss him in the worst light possible.

You can watch it here:

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But it sounds like as devastating as the bizarre hit piece was, it’s nothing compared to what Jones has gone through to get where she is today. And she has the support of a loving mother to help her continue on. Here’s a video of Lolo Jones and her mother, describing the difficulties they went through during her childhood.


(Photo: RunLoloRun)