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Maureen Dowd rang in 2016 with yet another scathing column about Hillary Clinton. It’s the latest in a long line of critical pieces aimed at the Democratic frontrunner by the New York Times columnist, whose vitriol for Clinton has only increased in the last year-and-a-half, according to a new study from Media Matters for America. The politically progressive media watchdog group said that Dowd’s tone had become solely critical towards Clinton since a similar study it completed last year.

The study was performed as a follow up to its 2014 study, which concluded that nearly 75 percent of the columns Dowd wrote about Clinton had a negative opinion of her. The study involved analysis of 195 columns that contained significant mentions of Clinton over a 23-year period. The 17 columns that Dowd has written about Clinton since that study have been all entirely negative.

In her latest column, ‘Leo, Hillary and Their Bears,’ Dowd tied in pop culture with her criticism of Clinton, who was described as akin to Hugh Glass, the 1820s-era frontiersman protagonist of Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest movie, The Revenant. She wrote, “And finally, of course, there’s the politician most like Glass in her willingness to crawl through glass, flip her positions and persona, and even bear up under a mauling by a merciless, manic bear to reach that goal most yearned for. In Hillary Clinton’s grimly relentless trudge toward the White House, the part of the bear is played by Donald Trump.”

If Trump is Clinton’s indomitable enemy, lobbing lewd ad hominem attacks at her, it seems he has a comrade-in-arms in Dowd, who shares his pastime of discussing “the Clintons’ tangled conjugal life.” Dowd wrote that Trump started targeting her personal life because he can’t emasculate a woman quite as easily as he has emasculated his male rivals in the Republican race (although that wouldn’t stop him from insulting Carly Fiorina’s appearance).

Dowd’s latest stab at Clinton, likening her to a DiCaprio character, is nothing new really. In the past, she has compared Clinton to Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen: “Those close to them think that the queen of Hillaryland and the Snow Queen from Disney’s Frozen have special magical powers, but worry about whether they can control those powers, show their humanity and stir real warmth in the public heart,” she wrote in June 2014.

The columnist’s plainly personal attacks are never particularly subtle. She has insinuated that Clinton is something of a vampire, writing in 2004 that “nothing but a wooden stake would stop” Clinton’s plans for a presidential run in 2008. Dowd claimed that the former secretary of state’s Machiavellian tendencies even go all the way back to her commencement speech at Wellesley University in 1969. When Clinton was in the Senate, Dowd described her as “a manly girl” who “has been so cautious and opportunistic about weighing in on everything from Schiavo to Alito and Iraq.”

The accusation that Clinton has been overly cautious or inconsistent on a multitude of topics, flip-flopping according to what is expedient, is not an unfounded one. But any criticism along these lines loses much of it authority when its wedded to needlessly spiteful, personal attacks.

Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses supporters at the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Iowa January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and former President Donald Trump.

Photo by Kevin McCarthy (Public domain)

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