“Media Matters” ; by Jamison Foser

The Hotline's On Call posted capsule reviews of the speeches at the February 2 DNC Winter Meeting by various presidential candidates. The reviews included such categories as “Standing ovations,” “Subtle Theme,” “Discordant note.”

Poodle Skirts & Cooties

The Hotline's On Call posted capsule reviews of the speeches at the February 2 DNC Winter Meeting by various presidential candidates. The reviews included such categories as “Standing ovations,” “Subtle Theme,” “Discordant note.”

The “Discordant note” the Hotline crew chose for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech? "Voice climbed into a yell five times."

We happened to watch some of Wesley Clark's speech, some of Dennis Kucinich's, much of Barack Obama's, and nearly all of John Edwards'. Enough to know that Hillary Clinton wasn't the only candidate whose “voice climbed into a yell five times,” anyway.

She was, however, the only candidate to have her yelling described as “discordant.” Indeed, On Call didn't even mention any other candidates' yelling. Or shouting, or screaming, or anything else about their speaking style or voice at all. (See reviews of Clark, Dodd, Edwards, and Obama.)

Hillary Clinton's yelling, though, was “discordant.”

It is entirely possible, of course, that the fact that Hillary Clinton is a woman didn't have anything to do with On Call describing her “yell” as “discordant.”

But it reminded us of something that's been bothering many of us: On January 22, ABC aired an interview of Clinton conducted by Charles Gibson. Gibson's third question was:

You are a strong, credible female candidate for president of the United States, and I mean no disrespect in this, but would you be in this position were it not for your husband?

Which made us wonder if Gibson will ever ask Sen. John McCain the following question:

You are a strong, credible male candidate for president of the United States, and I mean no disrespect in this, but would you be in this position were it not for your wife's money and political connections?

We suspect that Gibson will not. Why not?

The justification for Gibson's question of Clinton is presumably that she would not have the national profile that enables her to run for president if not for her husband. Given Sen. Clinton's own accomplishments, that's a debatable premise.

But if you accept the premise, then shouldn't Gibson also ask if McCain would ever have been elected to the House of Representatives if he hadn't left his first wife for the wealthy and connected Cindy Lou Hensley?

***

On February 1, The Daily Howler's Bob Somerby described Chris Matthews' comments about Clinton earlier in the week:

On Monday and Tuesday, Matthews had spent considerable time bashing Dem hopeful Hillary Clinton for telling a meaningless joke. As usual, he had directed gender-based insults at her, endlessly calling her a “girl” and complaining about all her “giggling.” Nothing new -- last Thursday and Friday, he had referred to her as an “uppity women,” implying that her husband refers to her the same way. But then, Matthews has long had a jones about Clinton that won't let his tortured soul go.

On January 31, Media Matters noted:

On the January 29 edition of Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci (R), who has endorsed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) for president, how Giuliani could “go into a debate with [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] and land a punch against a woman.” Matthews continued: “Isn't that going to be tricky for somebody like Rudy, who knows how to land a punch, to go up ... against a woman?”

Also on January 31, Maureen Dowd wrote in her New York Times column that, as first lady, Clinton “showed off a long parade of unflattering outfits and unnervingly changing hairdos.” Dowd went on to claim that when Clinton “expressed outrage about Iraq,” she “ended up sounding like a mother whose teenage son has not cleaned up his room.”

On January 29, Media Matters noted that on the January 28 edition of The Chris Matthews Show, Time blogger Andrew Sullivan said of Clinton, “when I see her again, all the cootie vibes sort of resurrect themselves."

On the January 21 broadcast of The Chris Matthews Show, Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Matthews went on about “Miss Perfect” Hillary Clinton in a “poodle skirt” -- complete with a Photoshopped picture of Clinton in a poodle skirt on screen.

In early January, Media Matters noted Chris Matthews asking Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet if Clinton “doesn't look a little bit like a prohibitionist? ... A suffragette?” -- leading Sweet to say, “Come on, Chris. ... Oh, Chris. Are you playing to a stereotype or what? Where -- why --”

In December, Matthews compared Clinton to a “strip-teaser,” asked if she is a “convincing mom,” and said “her hair looked just to be cosmetic.”

Last year, when the New York Daily News reported that Sen. Clinton's opponent in her Senate re-election campaign said “the senator used to be ugly -- and speculates she got 'millions of dollars' in plastic surgery,” MSNBC's Tucker Carlson suggested the story was a plant from the Clinton campaign because “that's how she wins in every case, when people think that she's wronged.” Carlson added, “Hillary Clinton is saying, on the one hand, 'Treat me like a man. I'm a man. I mean, I'm as good as any man'; and, on the other hand, she is saying, as a lot of female candidates do, frankly, 'No, I'm a woman, and treat me as a woman.'”

***

Hillary Clinton may be the person most capable of serving effectively as the next president of the United States. Or she may not be.

But this sure as hell isn't the way to find out.

Jamison Foser is Executive Vice President at Media Matters for America.