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Bringing 'sexpot' back: What's wrong with these female journalists' Twitter pics?

L.A. Times journalist Maeve Reston
L.A. Times journalist Maeve Reston

Political/journalism gossip site FishbowlDC called out several female journalists covering the 2012 campaign in a piece today, including the Los Angeles Times' Maeve Reston, arguing that there's a trend among these lady journos of using "provocative, sometimes sexy" photos as their Twitter avatars. Twitter users' reaction? This word "provocative" doesn't mean what you think it means.

FishbowlDC interviewed media training expert Brad Phillips, who didn't see much of a problem with the photos, saying they didn't seem overly "sexually suggestive." However, he added, "News organizations will have to decide whether having star reporters making silly faces on camera, posing artistically, or wearing skin-bearing dresses is congruent with their brand image." Doesn't that just describe, um, everyone's Twitter/Facebook/etc. profile picture? Phillips said, though, that this kind of image can work with younger, hipper news organizations.

He also noted that women often have to fight to be taken seriously, and that while it's unfair for women to be judged in this way, it could still undermine their credibility.

Advice columnist Harry Jaffe told FishbowlDC that it can be an advantage. "How sexy? Cleavage? Kate Upton sexy? Seriously.... unless it’s truly x-rated, I think it’s within bounds to strike a cute, perhaps sexy, pose. It sells."

Judge for yourself among the avatars FishbowlDC cited:

The L.A. Times' Maeve Reston:

The New York Times' Ashley Parker:

The Hill's Amie Parnes:

Parnes responded playfully:

Feminist site Jezebel took FishbowlDC to task, while Hunter Walker at Politicker mocked it by creating his own "sexy avatar" (strangely reminiscent of comedian Rob Delaney's actual Twitter picture), also pointing out how there weren't any male pictures in the sexy photo article.

It's become a Twitter cause celebre, with FishbowlDC taking flack over the article: