Nobody Did Nothin'

by digby

The NY Times takes on the issue of media sexism during the primary campaign and they find that the news media believes it didn't happen. Those of us who saw it were just a bunch of bimbos who got all riled up by the Clinton campaign and started hallucinating:

Many in the news media — with a few exceptions, including Katie Couric, the anchor of the “CBS Evening News” — see little need for reconsidering their coverage or changing their approach going forward. Rather, they say, as the Clinton campaign fell behind, it exploited a few glaring examples of sexist coverage to whip up a backlash and to try to create momentum for Mrs. Clinton.

Phil Griffin, senior vice president of NBC News and the executive in charge of MSNBC, a particular target of criticism, said that although a few mistakes had been made, that they had been corrected quickly and that the network’s overall coverage was fair.

“I get it, that in this 24-hour media world, you’ve got to be on your game and there’s very little room for mistakes,” Mr. Griffin said. “But the Clinton campaign saw an opportunity to use it for their advantage. They were trying to rally a certain demographic, and women were behind it.”

His views were echoed by other news media figures. “She got some tough coverage at times, but she brought that on herself, whether it was the Bosnian snipers or not conceding on the night of the final primaries,” said Rem Rieder, editor of American Journalism Review. “She had a long track record in public life as a serious person and a tough politician, and she was covered that way.”

Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, said: “I have not had a lot of regretful conversations with high-ranking media types and political reporters about how unfair their coverage of the Hillary Clinton campaign was.”

Among journalists, he added, the coverage “does not register as a mistake that must not be allowed to happen again.”

Why would it? Has there ever been a case where the media admitted they made a mistake? Have they ever suffered for it?(other than the massive loss of credibility and circulation, which never seems to affect their own.)

Depressingly, even Olbermann named Katie Couric the Worst Person In The World for saying that there had been sexism in the media during the primary campaign. He said:

"It is sad that Ms. Couric could not have emulated [Cowan] and separated the hype from the news in her own promulgation of the nonsense that Senator Clinton was a victim of pronounced sexism."[my emphasis]

It's not nonsense.

You can argue with it and tell me that you (and your young wife and older daughter and frisky grandmother) didn't see any such thing. But I know what I saw. And today I see the same press corps that denied they were in the tank for Bush for years and denied that they had a nonstop obsession with Bill Clinton's crotch and insist even to this day that they had nothing to do with hyping that useless meat grinder over in Iraq --- those same people are denying that there was sexism in this campaign. Olbermann may not have personally been involved in those earlier journalistic atrocities, but the people he defends --- and the network on which he appears --- certainly were. Notoriously.

Does the media have it right this one time, or is it it possible that they are a bunch of incompetent, narcissistic, un-self aware, celebrity putzes refusing to do any kind of self reflection or examination of their own piss poor behavior as usual?

perhaps those of us who saw this were having a mass hallucination. It does happen. (Those Salem witches were pretty whacked out.) But I really, really doubt it. I'm not prone to such things and after years of watching the media from a political perspective, I trust my instincts. And I'm getting a little bit tired of these people telling me that up is down and black is white and that I'm not seeing what I see.

From the comments in that NY Times article, it appears that the news networks don't particularly care that many of their viewers find their coverage insulting to women. Indeed, they seem intent upon insulting them further for even bringing it up. That's an unusual perspective for a capitalistic enterprise and one that, were I a shareholder, I might find disturbing.

Howard Dean says in the NY Times article:

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party, who says he was slow to pick up on charges of sexism because he is not a regular viewer of cable television, is taking up the cause after hearing an outcry from what he described as a cross-section of women, from individual voters to powerful politicians and chief executives.

“The media took a very sexist approach to Senator Clinton’s campaign,” Mr. Dean said in a recent interview.

“It’s pretty appalling,” he said, adding that the issue resonates because Mrs. Clinton “got treated the way a lot of women got treated their whole lives.”

Dean is a smart guy. Even if he doesn't believe it (and I have no reason to think he doesn't) he recognizes that more than half the Democratic Party is women and that this is an issue that the party should take seriously. It was, at least until recently, something that at least the liberal wing of the party could all agree on.

And even beyond the apparently parochial concerns of half the party, there is the ongoing concern about the party as a whole. After all, the press has been helping the Republicans "feminize" male Democrats for years by portraying them with negative female stereotypes: irresolute (a woman can change her mind, sirrah!) hysterical, shop-o-holics... etc. Having an actual female in the race allowed them to cast off all their restraints and really show their colors. These nasty stereotypes work against all liberals, not just women.

Yesterday some polls came out that showed surprise, Obama is doing fine with women. (There is some vague new sub-group they've identified as "suburban women," which I assume is the "soccer mom" cohort, who favor McCain by 6 points, but whatever...)

His problems, such as they are, are with white men. Just like all Democrats.

White men make up 40% of the electorate, and the Arizona senator has a 20-point lead over Sen. Obama among them, 55% to 35%. The pollsters say race does not explain the gap; recent Democratic nominees, all white men, lost big among white men.

The pollsters note that pluralities of white male voters say they don't like Sen. Obama and don't relate to his background and perceived values. In contrast, by a 2-to-1 ratio, they express positive views of Sen. McCain and identify with his background and values. The difference is less stark for voters overall. By 50% to 42%, they identify with Sen. Obama, and by 55% to 37% with Sen. McCain.

So, it's not really worthwhile to keep harping on how the wimmins are crazy and full of shit. They are already moving to do the practical thing, as expected, and are supporting the person who represents their interests. And the reward they get is to be told they are hallucinating when they see rank sexism in the news media.

It happened. It's going to continue to happen unless people are at least willing to admit that it's a problem. Someday, it's going to happen to a candidate that we all support. (In fact, it's already happening to Michelle Obama, who is going to be subject to the same narrative that dogged Clinton for years --- the "inappropriate" first lady.)

It's bad enough that women are still making substantially less than men in the workplace, that the courts are busily striking down anti-discrimination laws and that their right to own their own bodies is constantly subject to political barter. Is it really too much to ask that the news media treat women respectfully and take their concerns seriously? WTF? I can't even believe we have to have this discussion.