After bloggers caught wind of Michael Noer’s provocatively titled article, “Don’t Marry Career Women” on Forbes.com yesterday, their reaction was everything we’ve come to expect: civil, rational and open-minded. After a few hours of hearing such thoughtful objections, the editors at Forbes took down Mr. Noer’s piece, only to repost it several hours later as part of a “point/counterpoint” package, with the counterpoint written by Forbes reporter Elizabeth Corcoran.
I was curious about how this all went down, but I couldn’t get much out of Forbes. After reading things like, “The furor over ‘Don’t Marry Career Women’ is a testament to the speed of an angry blogosphere,” I wanted to know just how big an impact the blogs had on the editors’ decision to pull the story. A Forbes.com spokeswoman said only that “the story provoked a heated response from both outside and inside our building. We’re not going into any more detail than that.” But she later hinted that the blogs did play a role.
As the controversy was developing, the New York gossip blog Gawker discovered an old article Noer had written about the economics of marriage and prostitution, which disappeared from the web at the same time as “Don’t Marry Career Women.” I asked the spokeswoman about this, and she told me, “Because it was referenced in feedback about Noer’s original article, we took it down when we updated the package. It’s back on the site now.” Was that “feedback” generated by the Gawker post? That’s my guess.
As for how the article developed into a “point/counterpoint,” the spokeswoman told me that Corcoran submitted her article independently as a response to Noer’s, and the editors decided to run them together. Via CJR, this still didn’t satisfy some bloggers who maintain that Forbes “broke the public trust,” by publishing Noer’s rather innocuous article. Demonstrating even thinner skin, Salon’s Rebecca Traister wrote, “It was easy to wonder how we had traveled through space and time to a moment at which it was OK to publish this kind of thing.”
Somewhere, Larry Summers is shaking his head. Here we go again.