In an eyebrow-raising about-turn, CNN has published, then retracted, a news story that claimed that women's votes were governed by their menstrual cycles, triggering an avalanche of criticism.
Based on unpublished research, the news piece stated that a woman's voting behaviour was affected by whether she was ovulating on election day.
While the story was nixed within hours, the internet reacted immediately and unforgivingly, with Twitter users swiftly tweeting key quotes.
"New research suggest that hormones may influence female voting choices differently depending on whether a woman is single or in a committed relationship", read the article, as tweeted by @KailiJoy.
"When women are ovulating, they 'feel sexier,' and therefore lean more toward liberal attitudes on abortion and marriage equality" the piece went on.
"The researchers found that during the fertile time of the month, when levels of the hormone estrogen are high, single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women appeared more likely to vote for Romney".
A host of websites swooped onto the story, showing no mercy while feeding from its apparently grossly sexist - and under-researched - line.
Huffington Post's headline was typical of the viral reaction: "CNN Reports That Women Voters Are Apparently Incapable Of Cognition, According To LOL Science".
Jezebel went one step further, taunting the corporation: "CNN Thinks Crazy Ladies Can't Help Voting With Their Vaginas Instead of Their Brains".
While MSNBC's Jamil Smith commented via Twitter that "CNN should be embarrassed for even asking whether hormones drive women's votes, much less publishing a post about it", New York Magazine's Kat Stoeffel was sardonic: "Female voters! Kindly tell Nate Silver the date of your last period and your relationship status so he can figure out once and for all who's gonna win this thing November 6."
CNN writer Elizabeth Landau, responsible for the story, received a torrent of criticism following its publication and subsequent removal, but defended her position: "For the record, I was reporting on a study to be published in a peer-reviewed journal & included skepticism. I did not conduct the study."
Several online writers have come to her defence, including a wonkette.com editorial: "There is absolutely nothing in the CNN piece on Kristina Durante's study on voting and ovulation that suggests that women are weak little creatures who need to be protected from themselves, or that they are slave to all that estrogen coursing through their silly brainplaces."
But the uproar seemed in no danger of dying down anytime soon, if Twitter account, @hormonalvotes, set up just hours ago, is any indicator. Its message? "If the @CNN hormones story is true, they will have to rename 'swing states' to 'mood swing states'".
In place of the original article at CNN, a notice now 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."
Feedback it has well and truly received.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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