Media Criticize Morning Joe's "Sexist" Critique Of Hillary Clinton's Voice

Media Criticize Morning Joe's "Sexist" Critique Of Hillary Clinton's Voice

››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

Media are criticizing Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough's "thinly veiled" attacks on Hillary Clinton's voice as "a redux of sexist coverage" of women in politics.

Bob Woodward And Joe Scarborough Attack The Volume Of Hillary Clinton's Voice

Woodward Criticizes The "Style And Delivery" Of Clinton's Speeches Because "She Shouts." On the February 3 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward slammed Hillary Clinton's communication "style and delivery," saying "there's something unrelaxed about" it because "she shouts." Co-host Joe Scarborough suggested that "nobody told her that the microphone works":

BOB WOODWARD: Some of these past policies have not been great. I think a lot of it with Hillary Clinton has to do with style and delivery, oddly enough. She shouts. There's something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating and I think that just jumps off --

JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): So Bob, it's interesting you said that. Because last night I was watching her and I said to myself has nobody told her that the microphone works? Because she always keeps it up here. The genius of Reagan was, Cokie, Reagan kept it down low. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 2/3/16]

Media Criticize Woodward And Scarborough's "Sexist" Comments

ThinkProgress: The Morning Joe Panel Was "A Redux Of ... Sexist Media Coverage." In a February 3 article, ThinkProgress explained that the Morning Joe panel was "a redux of ... sexist media coverage ... that touched on many of the common tropes about Clinton 'screaming,' acting 'unnatural,' and being 'feisty'":

Journalist Bob Woodward of Watergate fame argued Wednesday that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is struggling to overcome opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) because Clinton "shouts" too much.

The comment sparked a redux of the sexist media coverage of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, as MSNBC's Morning Joe commentators launched into a lengthy discussion that touched on many of the common tropes about Clinton "screaming," acting "unnatural," and being "feisty." [ThinkProgress, 2/3/16]

Vox: Comments About Clinton's Voice Play Into "Sexist," "Deeper Stereotypes People Have About Women." In a February 3 article, Vox's Emily Crockett called out Scarborough and Woodward's comments, saying they feed into "a longstanding sexist narrative about how Clinton is 'shrill,' as well as deeper stereotypes people have about women, especially those in power positions." The article explained that there is also a "deep-down belief that women can't be trusted, which was also strongly at play in the Morning Joe conversation":

The Clinton and Sanders campaigns had a brief feud over this a few months ago, after Sanders accused Clinton of "shouting" about gun control during the Democratic debate and Clinton started talking on the campaign trail about how "when women talk, some people think we're shouting."

It was a small thing that Sanders almost certainly didn't mean to be a gendered comment. But it played into a longstanding sexist narrative about how Clinton is "shrill," as well as deeper stereotypes people have about women, especially those in power positions.

But this Morning Joe conversation took all of that noise and, well, turned it up to 11.

[...]

These kinds of implicit biases are sexist, but having them doesn't make someone "a sexist" -- or if it does, it makes all of us sexists. It doesn't matter how smart you are or whether you are a man or a woman; everyone has some implicit biases against women.

This includes the deep-down belief that women can't be trusted, which was also strongly at play in the Morning Joe conversation. [Vox, 2/3/16]

Huffington Post: "Male Presidential Candidates Have Not Received The Same Level Of Scrutiny" As Hillary Clinton. In a February 5 article, Huffington Post editor Alana Horowitz Satlin called out Woodward's criticism of Hillary Clinton's voice, writing that male presidential candidates have not received the same level of scrutiny, and pointing to her rival Bernie Sanders, who she said also "has a tendency to raise his voice but has generally gotten a free pass." Satlin wrote "[i]t's also worth noting that most of the criticism is coming from men, not women":

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward received a barrage of pushback after criticizing Hillary Clinton's "screaming." Many pointed out that her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has a tendency to raise his voice but has generally gotten a free pass.

[...]

It's also worth noting that most of the criticism is coming from men, not women.

Clinton, for one, has turned the diss into something of a battle cry.

"When women talk, some people think we're shouting," she said in October. [The Huffington Post, 2/5/16]

Time: "Nobody Talked About The Loud Voices, Shouting, Podium Slamming ... Of The Male Candidates." In a February 3 article, media critic Soraya Chemaly pointed out that the Morning Joe panel didn't talk about the "loud voices, shouting, podium slamming, deranged expressions and bombastic anger of the male candidates" in the presidential race:

This morning, MSNBC aired a segment in which Hillary Clinton's voice, once again, was the topic of criticism. "She shouts," said Bob Woodward. And yet, nobody talked about the loud voices, shouting, podium-slamming, deranged expressions and bombastic anger of the male candidates -- all of them. [Time, 2/3/16]

New Republic: "Scarborough Has Apparently Never Heard Of This Guy Bernie Sanders Whose Register ... Doesn't Usually Dip Below A Hoarse Shout." A February 3 New Republic blog post explained that Woodward and Scarborough's criticism of Clinton's voice at a campaign rally was not valid since "rallies are ... pretty much made for shouting," and noted that Bernie Sanders has a voice that "even in intimate settings doesn't usually dip below a hoarse shout":

Bob Woodward thinks Hillary is too loud. The longtime Washington Post bigwig told Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe today that Clinton has a problem with her "style and delivery" at rallies. "[S]he shouts," he said. "There is something unrelaxed about the way she communicates."

Scarborough agreed, replying, "[H]as nobody told her that the microphone works?"

Setting aside the fact rallies are, well, pretty much made for shouting, Howard Dean tried to assert that no one would criticize Clinton's delivery if she were a man. Scarborough adamantly denied this claim, yelling, "I'd probably too if there was a man who always talked like this on stage, I would make fun of that man a lot faster than I would've made [fun of] a woman." Scarborough has apparently never heard of this guy Bernie Sanders, whose register even in intimate settings doesn't usually dip below a hoarse shout. [New Republic, 2/3/16]

NYDN: "Woodward Lobbed A Thinly Veiled Attack" At Clinton By Criticizing Her Voice. New York Daily News political reporter Adam Edelman wrote that Woodward's criticism was "a thinly veiled attack" on Clinton and pointed out that "Woodward did not ... criticize [Bernie] Sanders, who frequently shouts at campaign rallies":

Journalist Bob Woodward lobbed a thinly veiled attack at Democratic presidential Hillary Clinton Wednesday, saying that the former secretary of state "shouts" too much on the campaign trail.

When asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" why he felt Clinton, who eked out a razor-thin victory over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, is currently being crushed by the Vermont senator in New Hampshire polls, Woodward said: "I think a lot of it with Hillary Clinton has to do with style and delivery."

[...]

Woodward did not, in the interview, criticize Sanders, who frequently shouts at campaign rallies, for his approach on the trail. [New York Daily News, 2/3/16]

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