Newsweek's Clift Bemoans Media Sexism Against Hillary, and Even Palin

A Commemorative Inaugural Edition of Newsweek arrived at the office in the mail this week, and it included a column by Eleanor Clift titled "Suffrage, Hillary Style" which touted Hillary Clinton’s "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" and sang the same old song about how sexism is still more acceptable than racism:

Hillary’s campaign illustrates how far we’ve come and how far we haven’t come. The tone and tenor of the debate around Hillary, and around Sarah Palin, was far more personal and mocking than toward their male counterparts. Maybe the material was richer, but there was no attempt to dance around gender issues the way there is with race. As a society, we still condone sexism; we view it as a part of nature, a given that isn’t worth bothering our pretty heads about.

Bringing Palin in for sympathatic treatment on sexism is a little strange for Eleanor, since this is how she greeted the choice on The McLaughlin Group last year:

This is not a serious choice. It makes it look like a made for TV movie. If the media reaction is anything, it's been literally laughter in many places across news....In very, very many newsrooms.

Clift complained that the media clearly favored Obama over Hillary when she was "equally serious," but she didn’t ponder whether Hillary was equally smooth or equally appealing:

Older women whose lives and careers were constrained by sexism felt disrespected by a media captivated by a serious black candidate in a way they weren’t by the prospect of an equally serious woman contending for the job. Younger women who haven’t experienced as much sexism wondered why their mothers thought it was such a big deal;’ if not Hillary, there’ll be someone else.

Earlier, she illustrated the generation gap among women Clift knows: "A Hillary campaign worker who objected to a Hillary nutcracker with its stainless-steel thighs was chided by her own grown daughters for not having a sense of humor. "

Clift began by recounting the American history that recalls Obama reaching the White House before a woman:

The fact that she lost out to a black man recalls the hurt felt by the early suffragists when the 15th Amendment passed after the Civil War extended the vote to freed black males. Women were told it was "the Negro’s hour," and they should step aside. Allowing former slaves to vote while denying educated women the same right enraged suffrage leaders and divided the movement between those who accepted the disparity and those who raged against their second-class status. The rift last for 20 years, with bitterness far more deep-seated than the hard feelings exhibited by Hillary’s hardiest campaign supporters.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis