The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘unfair media treatment

Happy Hump Day Widdershins!

We are approaching middle of March – and it’s hard to believe the insurrection was this year. So were Jewish Space Lasers. It’s remarkable how time can both fly and drag at the same time. Is there a word for that phenomenon?

Meanwhile the biggest story around is Major Biden. The poor rescue German Shepherd was in the news all day Tuesday. It was the lead story everywhere, journalists kept tweeting, several questions were asked of WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki who remarked at one point “Another dog question.” Although to be fair to the White House press corps, they also asked when the Bidens would be getting a cat. That’s hard-hitting journalism, it’s why we should be grateful to have the first amendment! At the end of the day the vicious mauling perpetrated by Major was a nip that did not break skin and the agent involved carried on with their duties without pause. But a Washington Post reporter, Annie Linskey, did ask Jen Psaki if Major would be euthanized. The answer was “Are you insane?” No that’s not what Jen Psaki said, but it’s what I would have said if I was WH Press Secretary.

The press is also really mad that Biden has not yet held a press conference since becoming POTUS. Remember they were obsessed with Hillary not having press conferences either. The fact is that Biden (as did Hillary) speaks to the press all the time and has given multiple sit-down interviews, plus a town hall on CNN. But the press doesn’t think the public asks important questions, like “Will Major be euthanized?” The press has their finger on the pulse of America and America must know about euthanizing Major. Also note that CNN and MSNBC have stopped carrying WH Press Briefings live. (Not enough lying by the Press Secretary, I guess. They carried every He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s WH briefing live.)

Everyone widely agrees that the HBO series “Veep” was a remarkable accurate representation of an administration and DC. And I always remember that one of its least likable and most scummy characters was a reporter.

This is an open thread.

Please forgive me for slapping you across the computer screen with that title without first offering a courteous good morning.  So, good morning Widdershins and a happy Friday to you.hillary-on-the-plane

For quite some time there has been a cavalier attitude in the media of, “The press is treating Hillary differently.”  Such an acknowledgement is followed by examples of their sins, a limp mea culpa, a yawn, and the enduring repartee first learned in the schoolyard of, “Yeah, so what?”

That bothered me something fierce since just calling it out again and again does nothing to get to the “why” of it.  To write these mea culpa articles saying that Hillary’s relationship with the media is irretrievably broken is to stand by and watch the offensive behavior, yawn, and in essence say, “Yeah, that’s bad.”

It’s not like this treatment started with this campaign.  It has been going on since the 1970s.  Here’s one of the very first interviews Hillary ever granted.

She was a month into her spell as first lady of Arkansas and was being interviewed on local television.

“You don’t really fit the image we have created for the governor’s wife in Arkansas,” says her inquisitor, a man with a brutal hair parting and disconcerting tie.

“You’re not a native. You’ve been educated in liberal eastern universities. You’re less than 40. You don’t have any children. You don’t use your husband’s name. You practice law. Does it concern you that maybe other people feel that you don’t fit the image that we’ve created for the governor’s wife in Arkansas?”

Hillary answered, “I think that each person should be assessed and judged on that person’s own merits. I’m not 40 but that hopefully will be cured by age, eventually I will be,” she quipped.

Just because this behavior has been going on for nearly 40 years doesn’t answer the “why” either.  If anything the behavior has gotten worse.  Just look at these two charts cataloging campaign coverage:

media-bias-chart-485x296

trump-coverage-485x285

This explanation is advanced:

There are two possible explanations for the bias against Hillary Clinton in the media. The first is that the media is punishing her for the scandals that occurred during her husband’s presidency, but the most likely explanations are related to gender bias. Individuals who hold executive positions in media companies are overwhelmingly white and male.

These are not the only theories being advanced.  There is the theory based in basic jealousy that goes something like this, “The Clintons have had their turn, now it’s someone else’s turn,” —  another ethical tenet right out of the elementary schoolyard.

Here are three more theories, one picking up on the sexism:

Sexism is one: Clinton is still struggling to fight the perception that she is not “presidential,” or that she lacks charisma, something that is rooted in the many ways in which being a female candidate makes her, for some people, uncomfortable and confusing to deal with.

Donald Trump’s personality is another: With a rival who is so flippant and resistant to any accountability, Clinton remains as the only candidate who can legitimately interact with the press. The media is increasingly numb to Trump’s outrageous, incendiary, and dangerous statements, due to the frequency and regularity with which he recites them.

But there may be another reason Clinton is held to a higher standard: the press essentially thinks she will win. Therefore, they pay more attention to her and take her more seriously than they do Trump.

hillary-at-u-nThese last two are quite entertaining.  Trump gets a pass because he’s crazy and Hillary gets lambasted sixteen ways from Sunday because she is sane; therefore, she’s going to win so she should be happy with the maltreatment.

I’ve read other reasons, like the fact that $120 million has been spent investigating her so the American public is entitled to know every last detail of her life.  There’s the “what do you expect” theory that so many investigations have left too many threads upon which to pull so you naturally get possible corruption stories.  Then there’s the “they can’t be innocent” theory since the Clintons have been in politics for forty years.

Let’s not forget the ever popular conservative dogma that Hillary is being held accountable for Bill’s sexual transgressions, i.e. blame the wife for the husband’s philandering.  If that were the case, Mrs. Roger Ailes would never be seen outside a confessional.

There are more theories, there are even rules about the brutal differences in covering Hillary, but nothing I have read encapsulates the theories better than a study conducted by Harvard investigating the stereotypical-based social costs that women face as political candidates.  These are the most relevant findings:

  • When participants saw male politicians as power-seeking, they also saw them as having greater agency (i.e., being more assertive, stronger, and tougher) and greater competence, while this was not true for their perceptions of power-seeking female politicians.
  • When participants saw female politicians as power-seeking, they also saw them as having less communality (i.e., being unsupportive and uncaring), while this was not true for their perceptions of power-seeking male politicians.
  • When female politicians were described as power-seeking, participants experienced feelings of moral outrage (i.e., contempt, anger, and/or disgust) towards them.
  • Participant gender had no impact on any of the study outcomes – that is, women were just as likely as men to have negative reactions to power-seeking female politicians.

These last two findings are “slap your mama” eye-popping and jaw-dropping.  Women seeking office are seen with moral outrage, feelings of contempt, anger, and disgust.  The last finding is Madeline Albright saying, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help each other.”  Women are just as likely as men to have negative reactions to female politicians.  Someone please read this to Mrs. Greenspan, Susan Sarandon, and Cruella van den Huevel.

Let that sink in for a moment.  No matter whether the reporter is a man or woman, Hillary is behind the 8-ball, at least at some level, before she utters the first word or advances the first policy.hillary-flag-2

So on top of the garden variety sexism, Hillary is seen as contemptibly disgusting by virtue of merely being a female politician.  Doesn’t matter if she is married to Bill or Homer Simpson.  Doesn’t matter if she is a Democrat, Republican, or Druid.  Doesn’t matter if she is running against a trained gibbon or a less trained Trumpanzee.  It is all the same because she is a woman.

Why?  The vilifying vagina is not treated the same as the palliative penis or so says this Harvard study.  This election is our chance to start changing that tired, sorry rule.

What’s on your mind today?


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