CBS Promotes Dem. Senator on Receiving End of ‘Sexist Comments’ From Male Colleagues

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is out with a new book in which she claims several of her male colleagues made comments about her weight following the birth of her second child. CBS This Morning eagerly jumped on Gillibrand’s story which was filled with numerous quotes from anonymous sources, a fact that CBS didn’t bother to question when promoting the Democrat’s allegations. 

On Thursday, August 28, co-host Gayle King introduced a segment by proclaiming “polls show that Americans have a very low opinion of Congress and this next story is probably not going to help that very much. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says fellow legislators made rude and sexist comments to her about her weight.” [See video below.]

King then claimed that Gillibrand’s memoir “reads more like an episode of Mad Men” before turning to reporter Nancy Cordes to further promote the New York Democrat’s claims of sexism. The CBS reporter began by playing up how “even U.S. senators are not immune to insensitive comments from their male colleagues, and it wasn’t just one or two. A whole series of male lawmakers apparently felt free to remark on her baby weight and her attempts to lose it.”

Without bothering to question the appropriateness of promoting Gillibrand’s anonymous stories, Cordes provided numerous quotes directly from the Democrat’s book to expose the supposed sexism directed at her: 

New York’s junior Senator said she encountered comments about her weight everywhere from the Senate chamber to the congressional gym. In an expert from her new book published in “People” magazine Gillibrand says when she was on the elliptical, “many of my older colleagues felt compelled to offer advice such as, this gem, good thing you're working out because you wouldn't want to get porky.” The prize comment she writes “came from a southern congressman who said as he held my arm, you know, Kirsten, you're even pretty when you're fat.” 

Cordes then turned to Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News who argued that “these men are still in a world of their own...I can't imagine a woman senator saying to a male senator of whatever weight, you know, you're looking a little porky. That last baby must have really done it to you.”

The CBS reporter concluded her promotion of Gillibrand’s book by pushing how “that's what most of this book is about is getting more women into the halls of Congress. But a few juicy stories about the men who walk these halls probably won't hurt book sales.”  

In contrast to CBS, while NBC’s Today did play up how Gillibrand “had to put up with some sexist comments from some of her male colleagues” co-host Tamron Hall actually wondered if Gillibrand should have named names in her book:

Should she name names though? That's what some people are saying you know. You put it out there and you make people speculate. And when she says generational, then you start thinking older and try to narrow it down. Should she call them out? 

While the folks at CBS were quick to label the unnamed comments directed at Gillibrand’s weight as sexist, the liberal media have eagerly mocked Republican Governor Chris Christie’s weight issues. In fact, Carlson, who condemned the comments directed at Gillibrand, poked fun at Christie’s weight during a segment on the PBS program “Inside Washington” on October 1, 2011

EVAN THOMAS, POLITICO: Christie would be a very appealing candidate except that he weighs too much. I mean, it’s an issue that everybody is uncomfortable with but it’s really an issue. [...]

COLBY KING, WASHINGTON POST: He’s a guy that I would love to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with at the same setting.

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG: Yeah, the all you can eat. [...]

MARK SHIELDS, PBS: Now, the weight thing is a problem, and I can say that when you sit in the bathtub, and the water level in the toilet does rise, it’s a pretty good indication that you probably ought to cut the second dessert. And I think that’s a problem with the Governor.

Despite CBS’ best efforts to push Gillibrand’s claims of sexism, it is in fact not sexist to make comments about someone’s weight, as evidenced by the repeated attacks against Chris Christie. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Nancy Cordes and her colleagues from playing up Gillibrand’s claims of sexism and to highlight how the plethora of unnamed sources in her book is evidence that Congress lives in a “Mad Men” era. 

See relevant transcripts below. 


CBS This Morning

August 28, 2014

GAYLE KING: Polls show that Americans have a very low opinion of Congress and this next story is probably not going to help that very much. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says fellow legislators made rude and sexist comments to her about her weight. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill with a memoir that reads more like an episode of “Mad Men.” Nancy, good morning. 

NANCY CORDES: Yep, it turns out Gayle that even U.S. senators are not immune to insensitive comments from their male colleagues, and it wasn’t just one or two. A whole series of male lawmakers apparently felt free to remark on her baby weight and her attempts to lose it. 

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: May not balance the budget on the backs of women, period. 

CORDES: New York’s junior Senator said she encountered comments about her weight everywhere from the Senate chamber to the congressional gym. In an expert from her new book published in “People” magazine Gillibrand says when she was on the elliptical, “many of my older colleagues felt compelled to offer advice such as, this gem, good thing you're working out because you wouldn't want to get porky.”

The prize comment she writes “came from a southern congressman who said as he held my arm, you know, Kirsten, you're even pretty when you're fat.” Gillibrand says she gained weight after the birth of her second son in 2008 when she was a new congresswoman commuting back and forth to New York. “I knew I was too heavy for my own health” she writes. She hired a nutritionist, started exercising daily and lost 50 pounds only to have one of her favorite older members of the Senate squeeze her waist and say, “don't lose too much weight now, I like my girls chubby.”

MARGARET CARLSON: These men are still in a world of their own.

CORDES: Margaret Carlson has heard it all in more than 25 years of writing about Washington. 

CARLSON: I can't imagine a woman senator saying to a male senator of whatever weight, you know, you're looking a little porky. That last baby must have really done it to you.

CORDES: Women still make up just one-fifth of the Senate and less than 20 percent of the House. At a political panel in December, Gillibrand told me changing that ratio is the key to changing the tone in Washington. 

GILLIBRAND: If we had more women in Congress, we would begin to break this cycle of dysfunction. 

CORDES: And that's what most of this book is about is getting more women into the halls of Congress. But a few juicy stories about the men who walk these halls probably won't hurt book sales. Anthony? 

ANTHONY MASON: No, they won't. It's astounding what people will say. 

KING: I know, I think Margaret said it best guys when she said men are in a world of their own. What do you have to say to that, Anthony Mason? You man.

MASON: Same thing I was going to say about the plane. Nothing. 

KING: Okay. 

MASON: Nancy, thank you.

 

NBC

Today

August 28, 2014

1 minute 7 seconds 

MATT LAUER: 8:15, time for what's trending today. And first up this morning, prominent New York Senator who said she's had to put up with some sexist comments from some of her male colleagues. In her book called “Off the Sidelines,” Kirsten Gillibrand doesn't name names but she does say some things that aren’t too flattering about her colleagues. She says one male Senator told her in the gym, “good thing you're working out, because you wouldn't want to get porky.”

After she lost 50 pounds another senator said “don't lose too much weight because I like my girls chubby.” Now Gillibrand says that comment came from one of her favorite senators, by the way. She does defend some of them in some ways saying that it might be a generational thing. And She will be our live guest in our studio a week from Tuesday on September 9th. That book’s going to get a lot of attention. 

TAMRON HALL: Should she name names though? That's what some people are saying you know. You put it out there and you make people speculate. And when she says generational, then you start thinking older and try to narrow it down. Should she call them out? 

WILLIE GEIST: Still a boys club by the way, 20 women out of 100 Senators. 

HALL: I can't wait to hear what she has to say when she makes the visit here. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.