On Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle and Pat Buchanan discussed whether “sexism [will] play a key role in what went wrong” in Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, with Barnicle saying that “reality,” not sexism, “will play a much larger role in what has happened,” and Buchanan asserting that, while “there's resistance to a woman being the nominee,” “the fact that she's a woman has helped her.” But Barnicle has referred to Clinton as “looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court.” Buchanan has described Clinton's voice as “rising to the level that every husband in America at one time or another has heard.”
During the May 22 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski asked MSNBC political analyst Mike Barnicle, "[D]o you think we'll be looking back on the coverage and on the conversations pertaining to [Sen.] Hillary Clinton's run for the White House and will sexism play a key role in what went wrong?" Barnicle responded: “No, I think the further we get from this election cycle, I think reality will play a much larger role in what has happened in this election than reality is playing a part now.” Later, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan stated: "[T]here's resistance to a woman being the nominee, but by and large, I think the fact that she's a woman has helped her here." But as Media Matters for America has noted, on the February 26 edition of Morning Joe, Buchanan made the admittedly “sexist” comment that when Clinton “raises her voice, and when a lot of women do, you know, it's -- as I say -- it reaches a point ... where every husband in America ... has heard at one time or another.” Additionally, on the January 23 edition of the program, Barnicle had said of Clinton: "[W]hen she reacts the way she reacts to [Sen. Barack] Obama with just the look, the look toward him, looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court, OK? Looking at him that way, all I could think of ... was this fall, if it's [Sen. John] McCain that she's facing, McCain is likable. She's not."
After Buchanan criticized Clinton's voice on the February 26 Morning Joe, Brzezinski responded: “Oh, Pat, you're lucky you're not in the studio, I'm telling you.” Buchanan said: “I know that's a sexist comment ... but there's truth to it! ... There's truth to it.” He continued: “It's very difficult for women to reach those kinds of levels effectively, as it is to make them sort of a rally speech. They're not good at that.” Brzezinski replied: “There is something so wrong with what you're saying, and what I fear is that the effect may be exactly what you're saying because of this double standard that people can't hear strength from a woman without using the B-word, and quite frankly, if that is what people are going to take away from this, it just seems to me as, well, everything that the Clinton campaign is arguing then.” Buchanan had stated earlier: "[I]t's very tough for a woman. You see two men going back and forth at each other, you say, 'Boy, they're really going at it.' ... And you see two women or something, and say, 'Boy, what a catfight this is.' " During the April 23 edition of the show, Buchanan said of Clinton's speech following the Pennsylvania primary the day before: "[O]nly once or twice did that voice start rising to the level that every husband in America at one time or another has heard. You know, where it starts going up."
Barnicle made his January 23 comment during discussion of the January 21 Democratic presidential debate, among an all-male panel that included co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist, and correspondent David Shuster.
From the May 22 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
BRZEZINSKI: The Washington Post -- oh, this is interesting, with these questions percolating -- with these questions percolating about sexism --
BRZEZINSKI: -- and whether or not Hillary Clinton maybe hasn't done so well in this election because of sexism along the way. [Syndicated columnist] Marie Cocco: “A woman? Yes. But not that woman. Is it [sic] the platitude of the moment, an automatic rejoinder to any suggestion that Hillary Clinton has struggled so desperately -- and so far unsuccessfully -- to grasp the Democratic presidential nomination in some measure because she is female. It isn't the woman part, the rationale goes. It's the Clinton part: that 'polarizing' persona and 'unlikable' demeanor. The unappetizing thought of President 'Billary.' The more inspirational quest by Barack Obama to become the country's first black president. Yet the question remains: If not now, when? If not Hillary, who? ... Is it something about Hillary, or [is it] something about us?”
Mike Barnicle, do you think we'll be looking back on the coverage and on the conversations pertaining to Hillary Clinton's run for the White House and will sexism play a key role in what went wrong?
BARNICLE: No, I think the further we get from this election cycle, I think reality will play a much larger role in looking at what has happened in this election than reality is playing a part now. Go back six months, Mika. Hillary Clinton was ahead in every poll you could find by anywhere --
BARNICLE: -- from 15 to 25 points. She had raised a huge amount of money. She had the endorsements of several key political leaders in each and every primary state she was in. So, guess what? When we look in the rearview mirror a year, two years down the road, if Teddy White was still here doing Making of the President, writing it out --
BARNICLE: -- and it hit the market in two years, it'd be the fact that she was not a great candidate.
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah. Well, I think, yes, she evolved at the end there, and also, you can't say you want to fight to the convention and that you can win the big states if you say sexism has played a bad role along the way. So --
BARNICLE: Well, you -- you know, one of the things that she did initially, and she's been a terrific candidate for the past five or six weeks. Had she been this way from the beginning --
BARNICLE: -- she'd be the nominee.
BRZEZINSKI: I agree.
BARNICLE: But she began with this level, this sense of entitlement, and kept insisting every other sentence, “my 35 years worth of experience.” And more and more people said, “Thirty-five years worth of experience? Well, tell me about that.”
BARNICLE: “What 35 years worth of experience?”
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah. There you go.
BUCHANAN: I think there's resistance -- there's resistance to a woman being the nominee, but by and large, I think the fact that she's a woman has helped her here. I mean, they rallied to her in New Hampshire --
BUCHANAN: -- those women came out when she got upset by Barack Obama, who ran a phenomenal campaign --
BUCHANAN: -- and so they rallied to her. So, I think on balance, it's been very positive, just like being an African-American --
BUCHANAN: -- has on balance been positive for Barack.