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Hullabaloo


Sunday, April 06, 2014

 
QOTW: Hillary Clinton

by digby

There is a double standard, obviously. We have all either experienced it or at the very least seen it… The double standard is alive and well and I think, in many respects, the media is the principle propagator of its persistence.

Indeed. In fact there are many examples from members of the media who openly profess to be liberal.

During the January 9 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe,* Chris Matthews -- host of MSNBC's Hardball -- discussed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) victory* in the January 8 Democratic primary and said, "[T]he reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit. She won because everybody felt, 'My God, this woman stood up under humiliation,' right? That's what happened."

But, while Matthews has an extensive history of attacking Clinton, his sexist commentary has hardly been limited to her. Following the Democrats' victory in the November 2006 midterm elections, for example, Matthews asked a guest if then-speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was "going to castrate" Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) if he were elected House majority leader.

Following are other examples of Matthews' sexist commentary:

Also during MSNBC's January 8 primary coverage, Matthews said that Clinton is the only viable woman presidential candidate "on the horizon." He asked: "Where are the governors? Where are the big state women governors? Where are they? Name one. They don't exist." Referring to Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Matthews added: "Michigan, she's a Canadian. She can't make it." In fact, at least four women governors currently head states whose population size is comparable to male governors who are currently seeking or sought the presidency in 2008. Currently, seven states have female governors.

On the September 12, 2007, edition of Hardball, Matthews began an interview with right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham by stating: "You are -- I'm not allowed to say this, but I'll say it -- you're beautiful and you're smart. And you've got a huge radio audience." When the interview ended, he asked: "Can I sing your praises?" adding, "I get in trouble for this, but you're great looking, obviously. You're one of the gods' gifts to men in this country. But also, you are a hell of a writer."

During the interview, Matthews also stated: "But it is interesting; all day long on this network and others, I'm seeing pictures of Britney Spears. ... [S]he is showing no talent. She's showing her body. She's obviously a good-looking young woman, wearing very little."

On the August 10, 2007, edition of Hardball, during a discussion of financial news, Matthews told CNBC's Erin Burnett, "[Y]ou're beautiful," and, "You're a knockout," before closing the interview by saying, "It's all right getting bad news from you." Matthews also asked Burnett: "Could you get a little closer to the camera?" Burnett replied, "My -- what is it?" Matthews then said: "Come on in closer. No, come in -- come in further -- come in closer. Really close." After Burnett began to comply, Matthews stated, "Just kidding! You look great! Anyway, thanks, Erin, it's great to -- look at that look. You're great."

A few days later, according to a "Page Six" article in the New York Post, Matthews "told Page Six he was only fooling around with Burnett because the camera lens had already made her appear closer than usual. 'It was this weird fishbowl look. ... I was just kidding around.' "

During MSNBC's April 26, 2007, coverage of the first Democratic presidential debate, Matthews discussed the "cosmetics" of the evening. In doing so, he complimented Michelle Obama's pearl necklace and declared that she "looked perfect," "well-turned out ... attractive -- classy, as we used to say. Like Frank Sinatra, 'classy.' "

Matthews said: "Some people are, by the way, just watching tonight. They stopped listening a half-hour in, and they noticed how pretty she is -- Michelle -- and they said, 'I like the fact he's [Barack Obama] got this pretty wife. He's happily married. I like that.' They like the fact that Hillary was demure, lady-like in her appearance." When NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell interjected, noting "You're talking about two ... lawyers," who went to "Harvard and Yale," Matthews responded, "Cosmetics are a part of this game."

Discussing the victory speeches of Clinton and Pelosi during MSNBC's election coverage on November 7, 2006, Matthews said to Republican pollster Frank Luntz, "Pelosi ... has to do the good fight against the president over issues like minimum wage and reforming -- perhaps -- prescription drugs, so that people can afford drugs and get them in a program that's easy to understand. All kinds of things like that she'll have to go head-to-head with this president. How does she do it without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?"

That was the tip of the iceberg, as I'm sure everyone will recall.

Clinton gives a hint of how she's dealt with all that:

Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, much like she did during a February speech at NYU (and surely a few other times), Clinton suggested that women who wanted to be players in the big public debates of the day to “grow a skin as thick as the hide of a rhinoceros.”

“You should take criticism seriously,” she said, now addressing the audience, “because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you… and despite whatever the personal setbacks, even insults that come your way might be. And that takes a sense of humor about yourself and others. Believe me, this is hard-won advice (laughter) that I am now putting forth here.”

The change I see in the way progressives feel free to talk about women in public has changed rather dramatically in just the last five years. I don't know whether it's come because of soul searching and a sense of shame or simply having their consciousness raised by the women with whom they live and work, but it's a vast improvement. (Clinton seems to have risen above all that, even if I haven't...)

The right will never change. We will see far worse from them than Chris Matthews' puerile drivel if she decides to run. They have no limits. But hopefully, we will see a united front on the left this time that will eschew the kinds of sexist and misogynist commentary many of them employed the last time --- which will allow us to have a healthy debate on policy, at least among ourselves. Finding ways to disagree and push back without being an ass really isn't that hard.

It's simply not acceptable for progressives to speak in the terms they did back in 2008. Neither is it acceptable to allow a presidential campaign to unfold without a serious discussion of the economic, international and national security issues confronting us. It's probably not an easy needle to thread for some people but it can be done. It must be done.

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