Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is "Bitch" really the "New Black"?

by: Harry Waisbren

Although members of the press themselves have described the media bias against Hillary Clinton as bordering on “mental illness”, it is still shocking to see the degree of gender-based attacks that have been levied at her. Such bias has already led Saturday Night Live to declare that “bitch is the new black”, and although it was written as satire, their larger point over the presidential campaign exposing a blatant bigotry against women is gut-wrenchingly true.

Not only has Clinton already received condemnation over such important issues as having cleavage, looking like an older woman, and getting ready in the morning like a woman, but she is given a double standard towards qualities men share as well. Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake described this double standard when it was exposed over the varying press reactions to male vs. female candidates who cry:

Male candidates can cry and it shows their humanity; Hillary Clinton cries and she's weak and hysterical. And why shouldn't she be emotional at this point? Her male fellow candidates don't have to put up with leering, chortling, oily creeps like Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough laughing at them and disrespecting them when they're trying to run a fucking political campaign.

The press’s blatant gender bias is further evidenced by the Associated Press uncritically quoting Robert Stone as an objective pundit. If you don’t know who he is, this is the same Robert Stone that recently founded the anti-Hillary organization, Citizens United Not Timid, or C.U.N.T.

Chris Matthews’s gender bias extended to him even questioning Hillary’s qualifications to be president:

"the reason [Hillary Clinton is] 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."

Although Chris Matthews was compelled to apologize a week later, the behavior of pundits on MSNBC did not change. This was exemplified by this observation from David Shuster who later also had to appologize:

"there's just something a little bit unseemly" about Chelsea Clinton contacting super delegates on behalf of her mother. "[D]oesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"

Although it seems particularly obscene to attack a candidate’s offspring in misogynistic tones, such abrasive attacks against Chelsea are not new, as they had already dealt with John Mccain’s 1998 rhetorical question:

Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”

Now who is holding their breath waiting for the media to savage John Mccain for heartlessly calling a teenage girl ugly?

Despite such examples of a political environment so keen to misogyny, perhaps the most blatant example occurred but a week ago when, following a firestorm of criticism, Hillary released her records of her tenure as first lady. Glenn Greenwald depicted the coverage of this new information in a post entitled “the worst, sleaziest press corps possible”:

It just isn’t possible for this country to have a more depraved and wretched press corps. After spending months haranguing Hillary Clinton to release her schedule as First Lady—based on high minded demands that open government is important—this is what ABC News “investigative reporter” Brian Ross did with the documents today (h/t Susie Madrak via email):

Hillary Was in White House on "Stained Blue Dress" Day Schedules Reviewed by ABC Show Hillary May Have Been in the White House When the Fateful Act Was Committed Hillary Clinton spent the night in the White House on the day her husband had oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, and may have actually been in the White House when it happened, according to records of her schedule released today by the National Archives. . .

The minute he got his hands on Hillary's schedule today, he apparently crawled right over to that most special media day ever -- Stained Blue Dress Day -- and excitedly connected the dots. The byline on the story is "BRIAN ROSS and the ABC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE UNIT." It apparently took the entire ABC Investigative Journalist team to uncover this story. Given what an honest, law-abiding and open administration we have, it's not as though investigative journalists have anything else to do.

This state of affairs led to this observation from Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake:

What?!? We don't get the background chatter that she made Bill sleep on the sofa in the private residence for months afterward? Or that she used Kleenex tissues to dry her copious tears or that she sought solace with a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby? Come on! What in the hell is wrong with these people-- this occurred years ago and is none of our business. It wasn't our business back then, and it sure as hell isn't our business years later.
This is not news. It is a distraction. From what, you ask? For starters, the fact that John McCain can't tell the two major branches of Islam apart, and has managed in one "foreign policy" trip to enrage the Palestinians and insult the Jews by equating Purim with Halloween, in a "goodwill tour" masquerading as a transparent bid to court American Jews in the delegate-rich states of NY, NJ and FL.

I agree wholeheartedly that such reporting is nothing but distraction. However, Christy is also right that there is something perversely wrong with these people and the system at large, one which includes gender-based questions against Barack Obama’s qualifications to be president as well:

So we may have reached the perfect gender dilemma: is Obama "man enough" to be President?

If Bush is the prototype of being “man enough” to be president, then I certainly have no issue with going against the grain and hoping for a president that is more representative of the other half of humanity. One hope I have for Hillary Clinton is that she will decide to take these issues head on like Obama has with race, as there clearly are major gender issues that our country, and especially our media corps, have to move past.

No comments: