CNN removes story about hormones affecting a woman’s vote

The post by Elizabeth Landau, published Wednesday afternoon, summarized unpublished research that alleged a woman’s voting behavior was affected by whether she was ovulating on Election Day. The findings were quickly questioned.

The original story (republished here in full) has been replaced by an editor’s note that reads:

A post previously published in this space regarding a study about how hormones may influence voting choices has been removed.

After further review it was determined that some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN.

We thank you for your comments and feedback.

In an email to Poynter, Matt Dornic, senior director of public relations for CNN Worldwide, repeated the official statement above then said:

However, it’s worth noting that the post in question did not channel through the standard internal process and it was not reviewed by senior editorial staff before appearing on As recognized by our leadership, audience and critics, the piece did not meet the journalistic standards of CNN and should not have appeared on our site. We had an obligation to remove it.

I’ve also asked Landau about the publishing and unpublishing process.

Landau’s Twitter bio describes her as a CNN reporter in Atlanta covering health & science. Her LinkedIn page says she’s been at CNN since March 2008. She interned before that at CNN and for Dow Jones, according to the same page. A Creative Loafing profile says she received a journalism degree from Columbia University and wrote a novel while an undergrad at Princeton.

CNN’s decision to unpublish the story renews attention to the ethical implications of unpublishing — and the alternatives to it. Poynter’s Kelly McBride hosted a live chat about this topic.

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  • Anonymous

    I want to add that this story in it’s entirety was posted Sunday morning 10/28 on the google news page

  • Anonymous


    This story in it’s entirety met me at 8am on my google news reel. I tried to post a response but was unable to and it just kept popping up on the google news page. Apparently to make it’s mark in a slash and dash mentality,

    You know what I find even more offensive then this is that the media mixes so many stories per day pushing this horrible monstrous quiet threat to woman. The top stories include woman nanny slashing little children, little girl being lured and killed for her bicycle then thrown in a recycle bin at the curbside, men attempting to lure woman to rape and then to be cooked and eaten, constant rape references by candidates. It sickens the stomach. I am sure there are many crimes against men or brutal attacks on men by woman but those are not as “News Worthy” I guess, Not that any violence against any gender should get as much air time as it does.

    SO in all fairness I decided to conduct my own scientific research.

    New research proves without a doubt that men who masturbate, have sex, or think about sex between the ages of 14 and 98 have a harder time with leadership issues then those who
    don’t. After an intense Internet study of 200 million males across the globe
    the study found that those who engaged or even thought about sex could not make
    good accurate decisions for themselves and others. Further into the study the
    researchers discovered that males often if not 100% of the time attempted to oppress women in an attempt to compensate for this vast disability.

  • Anonymous

    If the article was not up to CNN’s standards, why was it published in the first place? I guess CNN is having trouble keeping its right leanings under check.

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only one who noticed that CNN threw all the JUNIOR editors under the bus? “However, it’s worth noting that the post in question did not channel
    through the standard internal process and it was not reviewed by senior
    editorial staff [SENIOR staff! Get that/ The SENIOR staff is BLAMELESS! Our underlings? Totally their fault! (ed. note)] before appearing on” Uh-huh.

  • ThisIsJustice ToSay

    No, obviously. It doesn’t appear to be an attack on anything. This Poynter post is a report.

    However, I think attacks on the assumption (on the assumption, on the ASSUMPTION) that sketch studies are newsworthy are valid. Mr. Sanati, skill and judgement are two very separate things. CNN obviously knew where the two fell in relation to the original article the second it became aware of it, and, actually, I think this Poynter post is more about CNN’s actions than Ms. Landau’s.

    Further, not all studies are created equal. Not all provocative questions need to be asked. (I can come up with a trillion racist ones, ableist ones, homophobic ones, etc; the Socratic method does not exempt you from being insensitive or mindblowingly stupid–which, lest one gets defensive again, refers to the so-called researchers).

    I close this comment by saying, god, I wish all this “journalism” on research/studies would just. go. away.

  • dantynan

    I’ve read the story thru twice now, and I’m still scratching my head. Was it the study that was deeply flawed or the reporting on it? That’s what I can’t decide.

    Like this bit, for example:

    “They found that women at their most fertile times of the month were less likely to be religious if they were single, and more likely to be religious if they were in committed relationships.”

    So what about single women who weren’t spraying estrogen in every direction — were they more likely to be religious then? There are too many variables in that sentence to draw a real conclusion.

    The implication of that story is that women who are ovulating will vote differently than when they aren’t. I doubt very much that’s true, and I doubt that the research shows that.

    Everything that study seems to conclude can be more logically explained by things other than hormones — like age and economic status. Single women are more likely to be a) young, b) less affluent, making them more likely to support Obama regardless of where they are in their cycle (menstrual, not election).

    While Elizabeth Landau does present some strong dissenting opinions later in the piece, the first six or eight graphs present this kind of loopy logic like it was a valid scientific discovery. I suspect it was just very suspect research. That’s what I think most folks are objecting to.

    CNN was right to pull the story, but wrong to do it without a thorough re-reporting of it.

    IMHO, anyway.


  • Anonymous

    “I’ve asked CNN to clarify what elements did not meet their standards.
    I’ve also asked Landau about the publishing and unpublishing process.”

    Thank you Ms. Moos.
    That’s journalism.

  • MrJM

    “the one case I know of where a judge actually invoked Sharia as a reason to NOT prosecute a Muslim who viciously attacked an Atheist a Halloween or two ago”

    Citation needed.

    – MrJM

  • MrJM

    “Ms. Landau is an excellent journalist – period.”

    No pun intended.

    – MrJM

  • Rob Cypher

    A horrid article full of psuedoscientitifc nonsense; this shouldn’t have passed the smell test for anyone who has a 10th grade education, much less a supposedly professional reporter with a science background who’s been doing this for years.

  • Poynter

    Cyrus, I hope this piece doesn’t appear to be an attack on Liz Landau’s character or reporting skills. I’ve read several of her posts and believe she is a talented and cautious writer. I also have asked her and CNN about the decision to publish this piece and then unpublish it. Surely, multiple people were involved, and describing that process shifts the spotlight from the byline to the larger decision-making. –Julie Moos, Director of Poynter Online

  • Cyrus Sanati

    Ms. Landau is an excellent journalist – period. Her piece was balanced, provocative, fresh and well researched. Any attacks on her character or her reporting skills are completely unwarranted. She presented a controversial study, which she obviously had exclusive access, and she explored its merits with numerous academics. To insinuate that she should not have published this piece is preposterous – this is what we journalist do… we shed light on views, people and conflicts to inform and enlighten the public. Some may find the study and its conclusions offensive – fine – but to call into question the integrity and intelligence of Ms. Landau is crossing the line.

  • Steven Hanson

    You know what I remember? I remember their attitudes towards Atheists…that when faced with discrimination and violence that we should just “shut up.” I haven’t paid them any attention in years because of that, and I don’t recall them trying to do away with that news segment (because Atheists are a group where it’s OK to discriminate against them, or commit acts of violence against them…and the one case I know of where a judge actually invoked Sharia as a reason to NOT prosecute a Muslim who viciously attacked an Atheist a Halloween or two ago). CNN = Fox News Lite.