By ERIC WILSON/NY Times
CABLE news networks may never agree which program is fairer and more balanced, which talking head is the puppet of whose talking points, whether John McCain, in his latest advertisement, was undignified or whether Barack Obama, on his European tour, was presumptuous. But on one crucial point, the pundits have surprisingly taken the same position.
Purple is in.
Keith Olbermann, the commentator on MSNBC, has worn solid pale purple ties twice in the last week. And on Tuesday, he wore another one with purple stripes. Lester Holt, the weekend anchor of NBC Nightly News, appeared on camera in a more vibrant shade, approaching magenta. Over on Fox News, pretty much the polar opposite on the political spectrum, Bill O’Reilly was in shiny grape, and Kelly Wright, an anchor of “Fox and Friends Weekend,” showed that purple is bipartisan.
Is a color that represents the middle ground between Republican Red and Democratic Blue a sartorial statement of objectivity?
“Purple is the new neutral,” said Jim Moore, the creative director of GQ, who was making a point with two meanings.
A silvery shade of purple happens to be in vogue at the moment because it goes with a lot of the gray fabrics of the season. But in this election, the news media’s objectivity has also been part of the story, with complaints that the press is alternatively too soft on Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama. So rather than risk the appearance of favoritism by wearing red or blue, the press has gone purple.
This is not an isolated trend, as the list goes on. In the last week, Charles Gibson, George Stephanopoulos, Al Roker, Michael Reagan, Jay Leno (while introducing an “Obama Mia!” sketch), Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post and Jim Lehrer have worn variants of the plum cravat, plus a pocket square in Mr. Roker’s case. Even Brian Williams, not a big fan of the style pages, wore a tie that could be described as a soft periwinkle for his interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“I’m surprised to see it on so many people throughout this whole political season,” said Tommy Fazio, the men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman. “There are other ways of not being partisan.”