The political world was set momentarily abuzz on Wednesday by a report that Republican Jim Rubens of Hanover, who announced his 2014 challenge to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen that day, blamed mass shootings on women in the workforce. That Rubens has never done so was of no concern to the Democrats happily spreading the false claim, or to the writer who let himself be used as a pawn in a deceitful, shameless smear campaign.
Earlier in the week, the Shaheen campaign was shopping the allegation around New Hampshire. No local reporters took the bait. But on Wednesday Evan McMorris-Santoro, a writer for the news and entertainment website Buzzfeed.com, posted a story that proclaimed: "New Hampshire Senate Candidate: More Women In The Workplace Led To More Mass Shootings."
McMorris-Santoro wrote that Rubens, in a 2009 blog post, "connects the rise of working women with what he says is a rise in mass shootings and other violence perpetrated by men." But that is not true.
In the blog post, Rubens linked to a New York Times story reporting that men had suffered 82 percent of job losses since the start of the recession. He wrote, "The collapsing number of male jobs in the increasingly female-centric economy just adds to the already harsher impact of OverSuccess on males." (Rubens was referring to his book, "OverSuccess," in which he devotes a chapter to this topic.)
Nowhere in the blog post or in his Buzzfeed interview does Rubens link mass shootings to "the rise of working women." Rather, he links it to a decline in manufacturing jobs. It is not that women are working. It is that men are not. That is a critical — and obvious — distinction. Rubens not only cited data to back up his point, he explained it to McMorris-Santoro. "The point of this, if you read the whole thing, is that manufacturing jobs, which have been the basis for higher wage working men during the post-World War II era have been in decline."
Moreover, this view is common in psychological literature. For example, in a December, 2012 article for Psychology today, Dr. Kathy Seifert used this precise argument to explain why mass shootings tend to be perpetrated by white males.
But Seifert and other researchers who popularized this theory are not running for U.S. Senate as Republicans.
We write all this not to prop up Rubens, who is not our breed of Republican, but to illustrate for the record how the Shaheen smear machine operates. (McMorris-Santoro gave away the partisan source of his hit-piece when he wrote in his second sentence, "Democrats are questioning his ability to reach women voters," but quoted not a single Democrat in the story.)
Not only has Team Shaheen knowingly tarnished Ruben's good name with a false allegation of sexism, but to pull off this smear it was willing to also discredit a serious scientific theory that could lead to new strategies for reducing mass shootings. And it did so the day after a mass shooting. Disgusting. Anything to win, right Sen. Shaheen?