On the November 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke called House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), the incoming speaker of the House, “the Wicked Witch of the West.” In a November 17 column, New York Post Washington bureau chief Deborah Orin-Eilbeck twice called Pelosi a “shrew.”
In a discussion about Pelosi's handling of the Democratic leadership contest between Reps. Steny Hoyer (MD) and John P. Murtha (PA) for House majority leader, in which Pelosi backed Murtha but Hoyer emerged victorious, Kondrake stated: "[W]e had the 'Hammer' -- [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay [R-TX] -- and now, we have the 'Wicked Witch of the West' ... Nancy Pelosi, who's twisting arms and ... having her aides making threats." As Media Matters for America has noted, the media have highlighted recent disagreements among Democrats while downplaying divisions among Republicans.
In her New York Post column -- “Call Her 'Nancy Shrew'?” -- also addressing Pelosi's handling of the Hoyer/Murtha contest, Orin-Eilbeck wrote: “Forget 'The Devil Wears Prada['] the hot show in Washington is 'The Shrew Adores Armani.' In just a few short days, House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi has turned into a caricature of the shrill, petty woman boss." Orin-Eilbeck added:
The stereotype of the woman boss as a self-centered witch on wheels who'll run over anyone in her path has plenty of roots in American culture -- “The Devil Wears Prada,” zinging a fashion editor modeled on Vogue's [editor in chief] Anna Wintour, is just the latest incarnation.
So if 'Nancy Shrew' becomes the image of the highest-ranking woman ever in American politics - Pelosi will be second in line of succession to the presidency - it'll be a problem for all women politicos, including 2008 prospect Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
Media Matters has documented previous attacks on Pelosi. For example, on the November 13 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked political and social commentator Mike Barnicle if Pelosi was “going to castrate Steny Hoyer” if Hoyer was elected House majority leader. On the October 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Republican pollster Frank Luntz said of Pelosi, “I always use the line for Nancy Pelosi, 'You get one shot at a facelift. If it doesn't work the first time, let it go.' ” And on October 26, in his recurring weekly segment on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, “comedian” and Fox News contributor Dennis Miller called Pelosi “intellectually ... not up to the task” of assuming the House speaker position. Miller further assailed Pelosi as a “nimrod,” “a C-minus, D-plus applicant ... who no doubt would have been drummed out of the Mary Kay corps after an initial four-week evaluation period.”
From the November 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
KRAUTHAMMER: If you're going to -- to be the boss and appoint a henchman against a Hoyer, who has been there, and who has a big constituency, you got to make sure you're going to win. You don't want to lose on day one. And when you lose 2 to 1, which she has done with Hoyer, it's not only created a number two who's -- who now has a grievance -- by his -- the -- by the amount of his win, 2 to 1, he becomes a rival. She's going to have to look over her shoulder. If she stumbles in this term, he's going to end up inheriting her spot in the next Congress.
KONDRACKE: Yeah. Well, so, the history on House leadership is, we had the “Hammer” -- Tom DeLay -- and now, we have the “Wicked Witch of the West,” you know, Nancy Pelosi, who's twisting arms and making, you know, having her aides making threats and stuff like that.
BRIT HUME (host): Was that -- was that really happening?
KONDRACKE: Supposedly. I mean, that's -- that's -- it got heavily reported, and I've heard no contradictions of that. And, you know, the fact is that, when Tom -- Tom DeLay in his day got his way and, in this case, her first outing, she -- as Charles said -- she lost by 2 to 1.