Richard Cohen Reamed for Column Complaining He Once Lost Job to Woman He Admits Was Qualified

“Richard Cohen personifies the saying that when you are accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression”

Opinion writer Richard Cohen is having quite the bad day on Twitter after writing a column for the Washington Post about white male privilege. Or rather, as the headline puts it, “Privilege is real. But being a white man shouldn’t disqualify me.”

The column comes largely in response to an New York Times op-ed criticizing the appointment of “yet another white, male director” to head up the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a phrase Cohen says makes him “recoil.”

Cohen says he is on women’s “side,” but cautioned that if employers “choose a woman because she’s a woman,” then “you’ve eliminated a man because he’s a man.”

Cohen also told a personal anecdote about a time he didn’t get a job because it was given to a woman who, he admits, was qualified.

“Once I was passed over for a newsroom position I very much wanted. “We needed a woman,” an editor told me. I said nothing, although I seethed. In short order, I was made a columnist, so I didn’t even get a chance to cry. But the instant rush of utter unfairness lingers. The woman chosen was qualified, but her qualification had nothing to do with her sex. I was told she was just a needed statistic.”

The reaction to Cohen’s column online has… not been kind. Most comments seemed to agree that even in writing about his privilege, Cohen doesn’t understand it. But commenters didn’t stop there. Some dissed his journalistic credibility. Others the overall quality of his work. And plenty more talked about less flattering moments from Cohen’s past.

“I would go so far as to say that Richard Cohen has never, ever deserved a position in any newsroom in the western world,” said ThinkProgress senior editor Jason Linkins on Twitter.

“Richard Cohen personifies the saying that when you are accustomed to privilege, equality can feel like oppression,” added Vox writer Matthew Yglesias.

See more Twitter reaction below.