Fox News tried a slightly new tack in its attempt to defend Rep. Michelle Bachmann's (R-MN) John Wayne gaffe. Yesterday, Sean Hannity claimed that gaffes by President Obama were not seized on by the media to the same extent that Bachmann's gaffe was. Today, Sean Hannity and Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros also claimed there was a double-standard, but specifically said that the media treats conservative women worse than progressive women or men.
On his Fox News show tonight, Hannity said: "So you think they'd get away with these kind of verbal attacks if the candidate in question was say Hillary Clinton instead of a conservative congresswoman? Talk about a double standard."
Andrea Tantaros who had been on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto earlier in the day, bolstered Hannity's claim of a double standard. Tantaros repeated the claim that she had made on Cavuto's show earlier in the day stating: "The last acceptable form of prejudice in this country is misogyny against conservative females." She also suggested that sexist remarks about Bachmann wouldn't be made about Hillary Clinton.
While Hannity and Tantaros are correct in pointing out that the media has engaged in sexist attacks against conservative women (and we have called out such sexism), it is absolutely untrue that the media do not make sexist attacks against progressive and Democratic women.
Hannity ignores his own failure to "speak out" against conservative Ted Nugent for calling Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch." After airing a clip of Nugent's attack on Clinton as a "bitch" (and an attack on Obama as a "piece of shit," Hannity referred to Nugent as a "friend and frequent guest on the program." Furthermore, Hannity once agreed with a guest that Nancy Pelosi "should be home" with "tea, crumpets -- back in San Francisco."
In addition, Rush Limbaugh has practically made it his specialty to launch sexist attacks against progressive women, referring to women government officials as "sex-retaries" and repeatedly accusing Hillary Clinton of castrating men or having a "testicle lockbox."
Nor are the attacks limited to the conservative media. In 2007, Clinton, then a potential Democratic presidential nominee, was repeatedly criticized by both the liberal and conservative media for her pantsuits, makeup, cleavage and even the way she laughed.
Moreover, what Hannity and Tantaros fail to see is that sexism is not a conversation about conservatism or liberalism. In fact, it is a tactic directed against women for the very fact that they are women. Thus, instead of battling over whether conservative women or liberal women are attacked more by sexist remarks, it is better to address those perpetuating the sexist attacks.
In fact, sexism is not limited to progressives or conservatives, it is, as Tantaros notes, the result of "prejudice." However, this prejudice is a prejudice against all women, not just conservative women.
We welcome a conversation on the issue of sexism in politics. But the conversation should be conducted on honest terms.