A CNN op-ed outlines how media criticism of Hillary Clinton's voice is not only "sexist" and a distraction from political issues, but also represents a "charge faced by professional women that they are too aggressive and ambitious."
Miami Herald and World Politics Review columnist Frida Ghitis calls out reporters for attacks on Clinton's speaking style, suggesting the criticism is part of "the 'shrill' smear against Hillary Clinton." Ghitis writes that Bob Woodward and Joe Scarborough's critique of Clinton's Iowa victory speech was an example of "transparent sexism." Ghitis also calls a New York Times report "absurd" for claiming that Clinton came off angry compared to Sanders, when in fact both speeches were "heated and intense." She highlights The Philadelphia Inquirer's assessment that Clinton lacks "elegance and grace," Peggy Noonan's comparison of Clinton to a "landlady yelling," and Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza's comment that Clinton was "Hyper aggressive." Ghitis likens the "sexist" attacks against Hillary Clinton to the "charge faced by professional women that they are too aggressive and ambitious."
These are not the only sexist attacks that have been levied against Clinton since her speech in Iowa. Fox's Geraldo Rivera claimed her "shriek" was "unpleasant" and suggested Clinton "may be hard of hearing," while Sean Hannity -- who has referred to Clinton as "shrill" in the past -- said the speech was merely "angry, bitter screaming." The media has a history of making sexist remarks about Clinton, targeting subjects including but not limited to her voice. From the February 8 op-ed:
Woodward, in case you haven't heard, brought his decades of expertise to the MSNBC show "Morning Joe" to shed light on the difficulties faced by the once-undisputed Democratic front-runner. He opined "a lot of it, with Hillary Clinton has to do with style and delivery, oddly enough." Then he explained, "She shouts. There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating and I think it just jumps."
The transparent sexism, along with Clinton's poor performance with women, led former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to declare this weekend at a Clinton campaign rally that "there is a special place in hell for women who don't help each other." Women, in fact, are free to choose among the candidates. But like all voters, they should ensure that insidious sexism, theirs or the pundits', does not waft in to cloud their judgment.
That there is sexism in politics, in business, in the world, is beyond dispute. But in this particular case there is an overarching risk, a cautionary message for voters. Sure, sexist attitudes are a problem for women. But here they are a problem for all Americans deciding who should become president. Instead of discussing what truly matters, the experts are talking about Clinton's tone of voice. And that is just one of the distractions along this well-trod path.
There's the voice, of course, which a (female) writer in The Philadelphia Inquirer finds lacks "elegance and grace," and Peggy Noonan says "reminds me of the landlady yelling." Then there is that charge faced by professional women that they are too aggressive and ambitious.
During Thursday's debate, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza called her "Hyper aggressive." Another debate review, in The New York Times, contrasted her and her opponent, saying Bernie Sanders "kept his cool in the debate," while Clinton appeared "tense and even angry at times." The truth is they were both heated and intense, which was fitting. The Times' comparison was absurd.
CNBC allowed senior contributor and potential Republican Senate candidate Larry Kudlow to conduct a softball interview with Donald Trump. During the February 8 interview, Trump thanked Kudlow for endorsing his tax plan and Kudlow backed Trump's anti-refugee proposal.
When Trump released his tax plan in September, Kudlow responded: "I really like Trump's plan. ... One of the things I just love about it is the 15 percent corporate tax rate." Trump reacted by tweeting, "Highly respected economist @Larry_Kudlow is a big fan of my tax plan--thank you Larry."
During CNBC's October 29 Republican debate, Trump cited Kudlow's support as evidence he has a serious tax plan:
JOHN HARWOOD: Let's be honest. Is this a comic book version of a Presidential campaign?
TRUMP: It's not a comic book, and it's not a very nicely asked question, the way you say that. Larry Kudlow, as an example, who I have a lot of respect for, loves my tax plan. We are reducing taxes to 15 percent. We're bringing corporate taxes down, bringing money back in, corporate inversions. We have $2-1/2 trillion outside of the United States, which we want to bring back in.
When co-moderator John Harwood pointed out that economists have called the plan unrealistic, Trump replied: "Then you have to get rid of Larry Kudlow, who sits on your panel, who is a great guy, who came out the other day and said, 'I love Trump's tax plan.'"
Kudlow affirmed his support for Trump's tax plan following the debate, stating: "I've endorsed Donald's 15 percent corporate tax rate many times. ... He's spot on. And I'm honored that he mentioned me. Honored." The CNBC contributor has tweeted that Trump is a "first-rate person. I could vote for him."
During a February 8 New Hampshire town hall, Trump rebutted criticism from Jeb Bush by citing Kudlow: "I just talked to Larry Kudlow, the great economist, and he was saying Trump has the best tax plan, I'm doing the biggest tax cut."
CNBC tasked Kudlow with interviewing Trump on the February 8 edition of Power Lunch.
During the interview, Trump again thanked Kudlow for supporting his tax plan: "You gave us very high marks, which I appreciate. You've seen it."
Kudlow later backed Trump's plan to ban Syrian refugees, telling him: "In effect, a wartime moratorium. I mean I think that we have to do to protect the homeland."
Kudlow has been interviewing several Republican presidential candidates in New Hampshire for CNBC.
CNBC has allowed Kudlow to remain on its airwaves even as he is "moving toward" running for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut. Veteran journalism experts and two former NBC News presidents have criticized the financial network for allowing Kudlow to use his platform to help his potential campaign.
CNBC anchors have appeared to embrace Kudlow's Senate aspirations. During the February 8 broadcast of Closing Bell, co-anchor Bill Griffeth closed by calling Kudlow "senator" and added, "Was that out loud?" On February 1, Squawk Box co-anchor Joe Kernen called Kudlow "senator-designate."
The channel has claimed that "Kudlow is not a CNBC employee and no longer anchors a show and hasn't since March 28, 2014. He is now a senior contributor." Despite being a purported non-employee, CNBC has had him "report" on the presidential primary, called him one of its "top" contributors, included him in its October debate coverage, and now allows him to throw softballs at Donald Trump.
From the February 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
From the February 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald debunked the partisan assertions that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton improperly used a private email account, pointing out that her predecessors similarly used private email accounts that received information that was retroactively classified.
For months, conservative media figures baselessly hyped claims that Clinton violated the law by receiving State Department emails on her private email account while secretary of state. On February 4, reports emerged that Colin Powell and aides to Condoleezza Rice also used private email accounts when they served under President George W. Bush and some of their emails contained information that was subsequently classified on a retroactive basis.
In a February 8 article for Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald explained that Powell and Rice's aides' use of a private email account was "meaningless except that it sets up a rational conversation (finally) about the Hillary Clinton bogus 'email-gate' imbroglio" and showed that the fixation on Hillary Clinton's emails "has been a big nothing-burger perpetuated for partisan purposes." Eichenwald wrote that Powell and Rice, like Clinton, "did nothing wrong" and that "this could only be considered a scandal by ignorant or lying partisans":
This news involving Powell and Rice is meaningless except that it sets up a rational conversation (finally) about the Hillary Clinton bogus "email-gate" imbroglio. Perhaps the partisans on each side will now be more willing to listen to the facts. From the beginning, the "scandal" about Clinton using a personal email account when she was secretary of state--including the finding that a few documents on it were retroactively deemed classified--has been a big nothing-burger perpetuated for partisan purposes, with reports spooned out by Republicans attempting to deceive or acting out of ignorance. Conservative commentators have raged, presidential candidates have fallen over themselves in apoplectic babbling, and some politicians have proclaimed that Clinton should be in jail for mishandling classified information. The nonsense has been never-ending, and attempts to cut through the fog of duplicity have been fruitless.
So did Powell and the aides to Rice violate rules governing classified information, since the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) staff has recently determined that some of their years-old personal emails contain top-secret material? No. The rules regarding the handling of classified information apply to communications designated as secret at that time. If documents that aren't deemed classified and aren't handled through a SCIF when they are created or initially transmitted are later, in retrospect, deemed secret, the classification is new--and however the record was handled in the past is irrelevant.
In other words, just because the FOIA staff years later labeled emails sent from Powell and Rice's aides as classified does not mean those records contain some crown jewels of critical intelligence. In fact, usually they are quite benign. I have seen emails called "top secret" that contained nothing more than a forwarded news article that had been published. (The Associated Press has reported that one of Clinton's "secret" emails contains an AP article.)
The bottom line: Democrats may try to turn the revelations about the email accounts used by Powell and Rice's staff into a scandal. They may release press statements condemning the former secretaries of state; they may call for scores of unnecessary congressional hearings; they may go to the press and confidently proclaim that crimes were committed by these honorable Republicans. But it all be lies. Powell and Rice did nothing wrong. This could only be considered a scandal by ignorant or lying partisans.
So there is no Powell or Rice email scandal. And no doubt, that will infuriate the Republicans who are trying so hard to trick people into believing Clinton committed a crime by doing the exact same thing as her predecessors.
Eichenwald joins other lawmakers and media commentators who agree that the revelation that Powell and aides to Condoleezza Rice also received retroactively classified information indicates that the allegations against Hillary Clinton are part of a partisan smear campaign.
Republican Donald Trump said he will return a donation from white nationalist leader and author William Daniel Johnson, who gave $250 to his presidential campaign.
The Hill reported today that Trump was asked about the donation at a New Hampshire town hall. "I would certainly return it if you think it is appropriate," Trump replied. "I would return it. Don't be so angry, I don't even know who he is."
Video of the exchange was posted to YouTube by Right Side Broadcasting:
As Media Matters reported, Johnson donated $250 to the Trump campaign in September. He leads the American National Super PAC, which has been robocalling Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire to praise Trump's anti-immigrant positions.
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that Johnson wrote a book under a pseudonym in which he advocated "the repeal of the 14th and 15th amendments and the deportation of almost all nonwhite citizens to other countries. Johnson further claimed that racial mixing and diversity caused social and cultural degeneration in the United States." Johnson, who wants "a white ethno-state, a country made up of only white people," regularly appears in white nationalist media.
Last week, People For the American Way called on Trump to return the donation, noting that "cashing checks from those pushing an explicitly racist agenda is unacceptable."
In recent months, several media outlets have documented how white nationalist figures have been supporting Trump's campaign. His candidacy has also been a fundraising engine for white nationalist media websites, which have praised Trump for spurring "unprecedented interest in" their ideology and putting their ideas "firmly in the mainstream."
UPDATE: People For the American Way (PFAW), which asked Trump the question, responded to his statement by saying it's "a good first step, but Trump should follow up by renouncing the racist policies he's been espousing on the campaign trail." From PFAW President Michael B. Keegan:
"We're very glad to hear that Donald Trump responded to public pressure and will return the contribution from self-described white nationalist William Daniel Johnson. This is a good first step, but Trump should follow up by renouncing the racist policies he's been espousing on the campaign trail. Xenophobia and racism should have no place in any campaign, but we've seen far too much of it during the 2016 Republican presidential primary."
UPDATE 2: In response to a request for comment from Media Matters reporter Joe Strupp, Johnson said via email, "Please understand that I support Donald Trump. He does not support me. Mr. Trump is forthright and honest in his campaign. He is not returning my contribution just for show. This act demonstrates that he is not a racist or a white supremacist (and neither am I, by the way)."
From the February 8 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
Loading the player reg...
A dirty energy advocate with Big Oil ties is falsely smearing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' wind energy plan -- with an assist from The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal published a February 7 op-ed attacking Sanders' renewable energy plan by Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, without disclosing that the Manhattan Institute has received at least $800,000 from ExxonMobil and millions more from foundations run by the oil billionaire Koch brothers. Unsurprisingly, given his track record, Bryce's criticism of Sanders is badly at odds with the facts.
In the op-ed, Bryce claimed that Sanders "better check with his Vermont constituents about the popularity of wind energy." Citing anti-wind proposals in the Vermont state legislature and a few scattered examples of local opposition to specific wind energy projects, Bryce declared: "Nowhere is the backlash [against wind energy] stronger than in Mr. Sanders's state."
However, despite the presence of a vocal minority who oppose large-scale wind projects, support for wind energy development is actually very strong in the Green Mountain State.
According to an April 2014 poll that was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin, Metz & Associates for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), 71 percent of Vermonters support building wind turbines along the state's ridgelines, while only 23 percent oppose wind energy development. The poll also found that 86 percent of Vermonters support the state's goal of getting 90% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, and 72 percent of Vermonters said they would look more favorably on a candidate for state legislature who would make "advancing energy efficiency, clean energy and action on climate change central to their work."
These findings are in line with other polls conducted in Vermont. A May 2014 survey by the Castleton Polling Institute found that 89.3 percent of Vermonters agree that it is necessary and important to change the state's energy mix from the "current system based on fossil fuels, such as oil, and gas" to "a new energy system based on increasing energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydro and biomass." And a February 2013 Castleton poll found that 69 percent of Vermonters would favor the development of a wind farm in their own community.
Indeed, Bryce's entire attack against Sanders is premised on deceptively cherry-picking several isolated incidents of local opposition to wind energy. This cherry-picking is exemplified by the very first example he cited as supposed evidence that opposition to wind turbines "has been growing" in the state:
Wind-generated electricity in the U.S. has more than tripled since 2008, but opposition to the gigantic turbines, which can stand more than 500 feet, has been growing. In Vermont several protesters were arrested in 2011 and 2012 while trying to stop work on a wind project built on top of Lowell Mountain.
In reality, 75 percent of Lowell residents voted for Green Mountain Power's Kingdom Community Wind project on Lowell Mountain in 2010, and Lowell voters strongly reaffirmed their support for the project in March 2014, as the Associated Press noted at the time.
From the February 8 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
Loading the player reg...
Conservative media are applauding Marco Rubio for how he defended his extreme stance that abortion should be illegal in all cases, except to save the life of the mother, during the February 6 Republican primary debate. But many of these media outlets are ignoring the fact that most Americans do not agree with his position.
CNN's S.E. Cupp and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt parroted language from Marco Rubio's campaign to defend his debate performance, which garnered criticism. Hewitt claimed that Rubio is "being attacked by mainstream media," and Cupp echoed Hewitt, saying "the attention" is good for Rubio "going into New Hampshire and South Carolina." NBC's Alexandra Jaffe tweeted an image of an email from Marco Rubio's campaign, which read "the media pounced" on him because they "know our campaign is building momentum." From the February 8 edition of CNN Newsroom:
Loading the player reg...
Searching for campaign infractions real and imagined, the media's etiquette police have been busy writing up Hillary Clinton for numerous violations lately.
"She shouts," complained Washington Post editor Bob Woodward last week on MSNBC, deducting points for Clinton's speaking style. "There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating, and I think that just jumps off the television screen."
"Has nobody told her that the microphone works?" quipped Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough, who led a lengthy discussion about Clinton's voice (the "tone issue"). Scarborough and his guests dissected Clinton's "screaming," and how she is supposedly being "feisty" and acting "not natural."
During last week's debate, Bob Cusack, editor of The Hill, tweeted, "When Hillary Clinton raises her voice, she loses." (Cusack later deleted the tweet and apologized.) During a discussion on CNN about Clinton's volume, David Gergen stressed, "Hillary was so angry compared to Sanders."
The New York Times' debate coverage pushed the same "angry" narrative, detailing "The ferocity of Mrs. Clinton's remarks," and how she appeared "tense and even angry at times," "particularly sensitive," and was "going on the offensive." (By contrast, her opponent "largely kept his cool.")
Media message received: Clinton is loud and cantankerous!
But it's not just awkward gender stereotypes that are in play these days. It's a much larger pattern of thumb-on-the-scale coverage and commentary. Just look at what seemed to be the press' insatiable appetite to frame Clinton's Iowa caucus win last week as an unnerving loss. Pundits also inaccurately claimed that she had to rely on a series of coin tosses to secure a victory.
As I've noted before, these anti-Clinton guttural roars from the press have become predictable, cyclical events, where pundits and reporters wind themselves up with righteous indignation and shift into pile-on mode regardless of the facts on the ground. (And the GOP cheers.) The angry eruptions now arrive like clockwork, but that doesn't make them any less baffling. Nor does that make it any easier to figure out why the political press corps has decided to wage war on the Democratic frontrunner. (And publicly admit that they're doing it.)
Sure, the usual nutty anti-Clinton stuff is tumbling off the right-wing media branches, with Fox News suggesting her campaign was nothing more than "bra burning," while other conservatives mocked her "grating" voice.
But what's happening inside the confines of the mainstream media is more troubling. Rush Limbaugh advertising his insecurities about powerful women isn't exactly breaking news. Watching Beltway reporters and pundits reveal their creeping contempt for Clinton and wrapping it in condescension during a heated primary season is disturbing. And for some, it might trigger bouts of déjà vu.
It was fitting that the extended examination of Clinton's "tone" last week unfolded on Morning Joe. As Think Progress noted, that show served as a hotbed for weird gender discussions when Clinton ran for president in 2008: "Scarborough often referenced the 'Clinton cackle' and another panelist cracked a joke that Clinton reminded everyone of their 'first wife in probate court.'" (The crack about probate court got lots of laughs from Scarborough's all-male panel at the time.)
The toxic put-downs during the heated Democratic primary in 2008 were everywhere. (i.e. Candidate Clinton was a "hellish housewife.") At the time, Salon's Rebecca Traister detected among male pundits "a nearly pornographic investment in Clinton's demise."
She was referred to as a "white bitch" on MSNBC and CNN; a blood-sucking "vampire" on Fox; the "wicked witch of the west" on CNN; and "everyone's first wife standing outside of probate court," a "she devil" and the castrating Lorena Bobbitt, all on MSNBC.
That Clinton was unfairly roughed up by the press in 2008 isn't really a question for debate anymore. Even the man who campaigned against her, President Obama, recently noted that "there were times where I think the media probably was a little unfair to her" during their Democratic primary battle.
I wonder if Obama thinks the press is once again being unfair with its primary coverage.
For example, as the press continues to focus on the issue of Clinton's speaking fees as a private citizen, the New York Times reported, "The former secretary of state has for months struggled to justify how sharing her views on global affairs could possibly fetch $225,000 a pop from banks. "
The former secretary of state can't justify her large speaking fee, even though former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, among others, have all pocketed large, six-figure speaking fees?
Author Carl Bernstein said at CNN, "Now, you've got a situation with these transcripts, a little bit like Richard Nixon and his tapes that he stonewalled on and wouldn't release."
Over the past week, media outlets have been trying to explain how Clinton's hard-fought win in Iowa wasn't really a win.
During the run-up to the vote, Iowa was often described as a state that Clinton absolutely had to win (electorally, it wasn't). And so then when she won, what did some in the press do? They claimed she didn't really win Iowa, and if she did it was because of lucky coin tosses.
False and false.
"Even if he doesn't actually win, this feels like a win for @BernieSanders," tweeted Associated Press reporter Lisa Lerer the night of the Iowa vote, echoing a widespread media talking point. The New York Times repeatedly referred to her Iowa victory as a "tie."
Note the contrast: In 2012, when Mitt Romney claimed to have won the Iowa Republican caucus by just eight votes, The New York Times announced unequivocally that Romney had, in fact, won Iowa. (Weeks later a recount concluded Rick Santorum won the caucus by 34 votes.)
Actually, if you go back to last September and October, polls showed the Iowa race was in flux and occasionally veered within the margin of error. More recently, CNN's final Iowa poll before the caucus had Clinton trailing by eight points in that state. So the idea a close Iowa finish was "surprising," or constituted a Clinton collapse, doesn't add up.
Meanwhile, did you notice that when the Clinton campaign accurately predicted that it had the votes to win the caucus, members of the press were quick to mock the move. Even after Iowa officials declared her the winner, the Clinton campaign was attacked as being "disingenuous" for saying she was the winner.
And then there was the weird embrace of the coin toss story, which was fitting, since so much of the Clinton campaign coverage these days seems to revolve around a very simple premise: Heads she loses, tails she loses.
From the February 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
Media are calling Marco Rubio "robotic," and criticizing his "disastrous Republican debate gaffe" after the presidential hopeful "awkwardly pivoted four times to a well-rehearsed line," in an exchange with Gov. Chris Christie at the final Republican debate before New Hampshire voters cast ballots in the first primary of the election season.
From the February 7 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
Loading the player reg...