Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, June 13, 2008

Circumscribing The Debate

The NYT has one heck of a hand-wringer this a.m., searching its navel and the navel of other MSM news purveyors for any speck of sexism in their coverage of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Leading the charge is Katie Couric. Here's the clip:

And what the NYT had to say about it, ignoring her statement that if similar "iron my shirt" issues were tossed Obama's way, it would have been front-page news:
Taking aim from the inside, though, was Ms. Couric, who herself has faced harsh criticism as the first woman to be the solo anchor of an evening news broadcast. Ms. Couric posted a video on the CBS Web site on Wednesday about the coverage of Mrs. Clinton.

“Like her or not, one of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued — and accepted — role of sexism in American life, particularly in the media,” Ms. Couric said.

She went on to lament the silence of those who did not speak up against it.
Odd that the NYT didn't characterize the Couric clip a bit more accurately and dig into it some -- like her reference to a free market entrepreneur's creation of a Hillary nutcracker as somehow being indicative of sexist bias in MSM coverage. Instead, they dredged up these examples of horrific sexism directed at Mrs. Clinton:
  • Chris Matthews called her a she-devil.

  • MSNBC panelist Mike Barnicle said Clinton was “looking like everyone’s first wife standing outside a probate court.”

  • Also on MSNBC, Carson Tucker said, "When she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.”

  • The NYT was guilty of writing about Hil's "cackle."

  • Ken Rudin of NPR apologized after the fact for comparing Hil to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction: “She’s going to keep coming back, and they’re not going to stop her."
Awful, awful stuff. Note that all of it came from decidedly left-tilting outlets. Let's take them one by one.
  • Perhaps if Matthews had just called her a devil, he would have escaped criticism. You know, like "actresses" are just "actors" today.

  • Barnicle's comment is hardly original; there's polling data that shows Hillary reminds many men of their first wife. Polling data are there to be reported. Ignoring them because it dealt with a candidate's sex would be just as sexist, would it not?

  • Tucker's comment about crossing legs is in accord with Hil's campaign strategy of not running as a woman ... which leaves the alternative of running as a man. And any woman that behaves like a man understandably makes men nervous.

  • And there's been plenty of coverage of Obama's ears and McCain's age, so please, no harpie screeches about Hil's cackle. Oops.

  • Rudin, it turns out, was right. She still has not conceded defeat or left the race.
Now, all this bitching and endless nagging about sexism (heh) is all set-up, of course. The real game is not whether Hillary was treated with sexist disregard, but rather, it is a game of using allegations of sexism against Hillary to prime the media to be very, very careful in any criticism of Obama. After all, if sexism is a sin in America, racism is a mortal sin.

You can see Howard Dean hard at work priming this message in his comments about the coverage of Hillary:
“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.”

Mr. Dean and others are now calling for a “national discussion” of sexism.

Obama, in dealing with the Wright blow-up, called for a "national discussion" of racism; Dean did not borrow the term by accident. And if the media's treatment of Hillary is appalling and resonates because it reflects how a lot of women are treated, then any criticism at all of Obama will remind all blacks -- men and women -- of negative ways they've been treated and be even more appalling.

In other words, it's now officially hands off Obama time. This won't make much difference to the average American, as the media has kept its hands pretty well off Obama all along. It will make a profound difference to GOP candidates, speechwriters and campaign chiefs, and to reporters, editorial cartoonists and editorial writers. The former know they are being watched and offenses will be dealt with very, very harshly by the latter.

Missing from this discussion is the Dems' recent sump-diving into ageism with McCain. To twist beyond recognition his comments about the strategic benefits of having an ongoing military presence in Iraq into an attack on McCain's capabilities because he is old must remind many American men and women in their 70s and older of the ways they are discriminated against and belittled ... but where are the calls for a national dialog on that?

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