Mike Rosen | Media Matters for America

Mike Rosen

Tags ››› Mike Rosen
  • Media Return To Deriding Hillary Clinton's Laugh

    "The Cackle," "A Record Scratch," And Other Tired Attacks From The Debate

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Clinton and Sanders at the October 13 debate

    Multiple media figures derided Hillary Clinton's laugh during the first Democratic presidential debate, calling it a "cackle" and "a record scratch." During the 2008 presidential race, Clinton's laughter was repeatedly attacked, despite criticism that such attacks were rooted in sexism.

    During the October 13 CNN debate in Las Vegas, Clinton laughed after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders defended her from repeated questions about her use of private email by criticizing the media for fixating on the issue and saying, "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!" Clinton and Sanders shook hands as the crowd applauded.

    The moment has been described by several outlets as a highlight of the night.  

    But several media figures initially focused on Clinton's laugh. BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski tweeted, "oh god the Clinton laugh is out," while the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "THE CLINTON LAUGH," and Fox's Sean Hannity tweeted "Omg that laugh."

    Several conservative media figures took it further, calling it a "cackle":

    Attacking Clinton's laughter was a common theme during the Democratic primary before the 2008 election. In September 2007, after Clinton appeared on several Sunday political talk shows and laughed in response to some questions, media figures spent weeks debating and mocking her laughter. Fox News led the charge, with Bill O'Reilly even discussing Clinton's laughter with a "body language expert" who deemed it "evil," and Sean Hannity calling the laugh "frightening."

    The mainstream press picked up on the attacks on Clinton's laugh, with New York Times political reporter Patrick Healy writing an article with the headline "Laughing Matters in Clinton Campaign," in which he described Clinton's "hearty belly laugh" as "The Cackle," calling it "heavily caffeinated" and suggesting it may have been "programmed."

    Then-Politico reporter Ben Smith also described Clinton's laugh as her "signature cackle," while Politico correspondent Mike Allen and editor-in-chief John F. Harris wrote that Clinton's laugh "sounded like it was programmed by computer."

    And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who has a long history of nasty attacks on Clinton, claimed Clinton's laugh was allowing her to look less like a "hellish housewife" and a "nag" and more like a "wag":

    As Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, once told me: "She's never going to get out of our faces. ... She's like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won't stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone."

    That's why Hillary is laughing a lot now, big belly laughs, in response to tough questions or comments, to soften her image as she confidently knocks her male opponents out of the way. From nag to wag.

    The list goes on: MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, then-MSNBC host David Shuster, then-MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, radio host Mike Rosen, Dick Morris, the Drudge Report, The Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi, Time magazine's Joe Klein, the New York Times' Frank Rich, CNN's Jeanne Moos, and others all debated or derided Clinton's laughter during Clinton's first run for president.

    Politico's Allen said on MSNBC during all of this that "'cackle' is a very sexist term," and disputed MSNBC's Chris Matthews' use of it in reference to Clinton. Other outlets agreed; Jezebel called out Matthews for his "cackle" criticism and other derisive remarks, asking, "can we agree that no matter what your political allegiances, this is not the way you speak of a woman -- whether she is a senator or not?" Rachel Sklar, writing in the Huffington Post, said at the time "I keep finding sexist Hillary Clinton bashing everywhere I turn," noting that criticisms of the candidate's laughter "turn completely on the fact that she's a woman. 'The Cackle?' So would never be applied to a man. We all know it."

    Unfortunately, the criticism hasn't stopped in the intervening seven years. The Washington Free Beacon has a "Hillary Laugh Button" permanently on its site. The National Journal published in June 2014, many months prior to Clinton declaring her second bid for president, a "Comprehensive Supercut of Hillary Clinton Laughing Awkwardly With Reporters." And conservative tweet-aggregator Twitchy in August mocked "scary as hell" pens which featured "Clinton's cackling head." 

  • UPDATE: Rosen says his support for another terrorist attack in NYC was "satirical"

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Last week, we noted that AM 850 conservative radio host and Denver Post columnist Mike Rosen said he supported building Park 51, the Islamic cultural center proposed in lower Manhattan, but that its construction should be "followed by the hijacking of an Iranian plane right into that building and blow it to smithereens." The comment came during a debate with Colorado based progressive author and AM 760 radio host David Sirota and KHOW's Peter Boyles.

    After Rosen's bizarre endorsement of another terrorist attack in New York City sparked widespread controversy the right-wing talker devoted his entire column in today's Denver Post to a response. Rosen's excuse? He was kidding -- it was only satire!

    Isn't terrorism and religious hatred hilarious?

    Rosen writes (emphasis added):

    Although my comment was obviously satirical, various lefties are intentionally misrepresenting it, out of context, as if this were truly my position.


    My serious opinion on the mosque is a matter of record and can be found in my Denver Post column of Aug. 26, in which I wrote, "Opponents aren't arguing that government should bar the mosque on private property. They're engaging in moral suasion, urging New York Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf to abandon this location on the basis of propriety and build it somewhere else. Yes, Muslims have feelings, too, but given the religious mission of the 9/11 murderers and the inordinate loss of non-suicidal, non-Muslim life in this case, the sensibilities of survivors and families of those killed should take precedence."


    This online jihad against me is just another tiresome example of the way lefties play the game. Anything goes and truth, honesty and ethics are no barrier. I'm not surprised, nor am I impressed or intimidated.

    While it is hilarious to read Rosen critiquing the "honesty and ethics" of anyone, his overall response is disingenuous at best.

    For a moment, let's accept Rosen's excuse that he was being satirical. What was the underlying idea behind his position? Essentially what you'd expect, that all Muslims are responsible for the extremist, terrorist actions of only a few and that building Park 51 so closely to ground zeros rankles the "sensibilities" of some.

    Whose "sensibilities" are offended by the move to build Park 51? People who blame all Muslims for the events of 9-11. People like Rosen.

    Satirical or not, his position on Park 51 is hateful, Islamaphobic, un-American and deeply divisive.

    Speaking to Michael Roberts for Westword's media blog, Rosen also took a swipe at MSNBC's Keith Olbermann for identifying him as a Denver Post columnist when Olbermann named him "Worst Person in the World."

    Roberts' writes:

    This spin led to the item on MSNBC's Countdown, during which host Keith Olbermann identified Rosen with the Denver Post, not KOA. That seemed wrong to Rosen, who notes that "I'm known primarily by my radio show. The fact that I write a once-a-week column in the Denver Post is nice but tangential. It goes to show that Olbermann and his people didn't do any vetting on this. They didn't make any attempt to find out if it was the truth. Maybe Olbermann believes that was my actual position, in which case Sirota is responsible for that misperception. But you'd think the staff would spend at least a few minutes to find out if that could be taken at face value or not."

    Rosen used his Denver Post column to respond to the controversy over his comments at the debate and within that very Denver Post column cited a previous Denver Post column to defend his more serious thinking.

    How's that for "tangential."

    The word actually better describes Rosen's relationship with the truth and logical thinking.

    Don't hold your breath for another debate between Rosen and Sirota. The right-wing host has firmly tucked his tail between his legs, saying he has "no interest in doing anything with David Sirota again."

    Sirota provided Media Matters with the following response:

    In the last few weeks, we've seen mosques desecrated, we've seen Arab Americans violently attacked for their religion, and we've seen a criminal cite right-wing talk radio as the reason he was going to kill people at a non-profit foundation. So words - especially from public figures in public forums - have real consequences, and it's frankly sad to see that Mike can't simply apologize for his crass statements. He can say people who take offense are humorless, but he hasn't explained how his comments were funny. Why hasn't he? Because they aren't funny - they were offensive and dangerous. And the reason I pointed them out was not because I have some personal desire to embarrass a local radio host here in Denver, but because I fundamentally believe that silence in the face of violent and hateful rhetoric is complicity.

    You can share your thoughts about Rosen's extreme rhetoric. You can contact KOA AM 850 here, email Rosen here, or contact his sponsors here. While you are at it, you can email the Denver Post, which employs Rosen as a columnist.