‘Binder’ Blinders at the Boston Herald?

October 18, 2012

The Binders Full of Women rumpus,the latest screaming meme in the flogosphere, has turned the spotlight on Mitt Romney’s hiring record as Massachusetts governor from 2003-2007. The local dailies both take a look at that record today, with differing results (stop the presses, eh?).

From the Boston Herald:

Mitt Romney’s ‘binders of women’ comment is going full clip

The frenzy whipped up by Mitt Romney’s claims of poring over “binders full of woman” to ensure his cabinet wasn’t male-dominated drew a sharp response from both sides of the aisle yesterday — Democrats disputing the notion he actively sought out female candidates and Republicans rushing to defend his Bay State record.

Romney, in Tuesday’s debate, said his administration “took a concerted effort to go out and find women” for his cabinet, adding he turned to women’s groups, who provided “binders full of women” . . .

Kerry Healey, Romney’s former lieutenant governor, noted women in top positions included Chief of Staff Beth Myers and policy adviser Cindy Gillespie.

“He has surrounded himself with talented women’s voices,” Healey said last night. The Herald reported during Romney’s administration that the percentage of women in top jobs rose only slightly, from 30 percent to 31 percent, but MassGAP did not fault him, telling the Herald in 2006 three-fourths of top jobs had holdovers.

The Boston Globe, however, tells a different – and less flattering – tale:

The story behind Mitt Romney’s ‘binders full of women’

WASHINGTON — In the debate on Tuesday night, Mitt Romney said that he made every effort to find qualified women for Cabinet positions when he was governor of Massachusetts.

“Well, gosh,” he said he told his staff who had an abundance of male applicants, “can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”

“I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ ” Romney added. “And they brought us whole binders full of women.”

The awkward turn of phrase — “binders full of women” — immediately took off online and triggered a day of back and forth between Democrats and Republicans over who can best represent concerns of women. A Facebook page, called “Binders Full of Women,” was created and by midday had nearly 300,000 likes. Dan Lacey, an artist known for political parodies, was selling a painting on eBay of Romney holding two binders with female legs coming out of them. A Tumblr page, with spoof images, was created, and President Obama resurrected the line during a campaign stop in Iowa.

That’s not the less flattering part, though. This is:

About midway through Romney’s four-year term, 42 percent of his 33 new appointments were women, according to a study done by the UMass Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy using some of the data collected by MassGAP.

But over the next two years, women made up only 25 percent of the 64 new appointments Romney made. By the end of his term, women made up 27.6 percent of those in high-ranking positions overall, which was slightly lower than it was before Romney took office.

As always in this post-truth presidential election, pick the numbers that suit you best.