Campaign debates over sexism, racism, ageism rage on

June 17, 2008

obama5.jpgNEW YORK – One thing seems certain in the race for the White House — the debate that the campaigns have sparked on sexism, racism and ageism in the United States is nowhere near resolved.

The media’s handling of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain — each running a groundbreaking campaign — has drawn attention to the way women, blacks and older people are seen in America, according to a panel of experts that met on mccain2.jpgclinton2.jpgTuesday at the Paley Center for Media.

 “I think it’s time for journalists to stop and look back at what they did and not say, ‘Well, we’re not covering Hillary Clinton any more so gender is no longer an issue,'” said panelist Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I’d say to reporters, ‘Let’s think about all of those kinds of questions about gender and then let’s ask the same kinds of questions about race,'” she said. She also added age to the list.

If elected, Obama would be the nation’s first black president and McCain would be the oldest to take office. Clinton would have been the first woman. Discussion about bias and stereotyping has been extensive, especially since Clinton dropped out of the race and her loss disappointed many female supporters.

The panel on “Bias, Punditry and the Press in the 2008 Election,” which also included political columnists Courtney Martin of The American Prospect Online, Patricia Williams of The Nation and Juan Gonzalez of New York’s Daily News, noted what panelists saw as sexism toward Clinton.

Examples included the extensive coverage of her laugh, praise for certain of her speeches as “charming” and criticism that she was “strident” — none of which would have been leveled against a male candidate, they said.  That doesn’t even include rude and insulting remarks that can be found on the Internet, where people are more free to be harsh in their tone thanks to the Web’s anonymity, they said.

“It is so insulting, it is so unacceptable and, to think that in this country which claims to be the bastion of democracy and freedom and tries to take this around the world, that there is no accountablity for dissing a woman, I find that really appalling,” said panelist Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent. 
Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.   

Photo credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook (Obama)

Photo credit: Reuters/Lee Celano (McCain)

Photo credit: Reuters/Ana Martinez (Clinton)


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Frankly, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, I don’t care how old or how young or what sex or what color the president is…just so long as that president persuades congress to restore the federal personal income tax exemption for singles and married couples that was established in 1913 when the 16th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

Adjusted for inflation over the past 95 years (2,000%), this means that the first $60,000 in income (for singles) and the first $80,000 in income (for marrieds) is exempt from taxation. That exemption was $3,000 and $4,000, respectively, in 1913 (e.g., 2,000% = 20 x $3,000 = $60,000).

Somewhere along the line, this exemption was taken away from the middle and working classes, causing all our income to be subject to taxation…and initiating the shrinking and weakening of the middle class…while also adding proportionately to the ranks of the working class and poor.

To add insult to injury, during the 1980’s the president and congress made the astounding decision that our exempted income should not only continue to be taxed, but taxed at the same rate as those members of the privileged class whose incomes far, far exceed ours.

As set forth in the tax code of 1913, that same privileged class would traditionally pay America’s bills. At the same time, America’s untaxed working class would move into, and grow what would eventually be the greatest middle class in global history through capitalistic consumption.

Instead of paying America’s bills with tax revenue, the president and congress made the further astounding decision to borrow to pay those bills instead. Even more astounding was that the source of this borrowing would become the middle/working class social security trust fund, as well as foreign governments and investors when that trust fund was exhausted.

If we didn’t have the aforesaid tax burden (i.e., if our exemption was restored), we, the middle and working classes, could spend and consume the U.S. economy back into the black (i.e., back into “profitability”). After all, personal consumption is the primary foundation of a strong and vibrant capitalistic society.

Of course, the under taxed privileged class would raise holy heck if they even suspected that they might actually have to return to tradition and take financial responsibility for paying America’s bills…and reducing America’s debt, the latter having grown by leaps and bounds since the privileged class went on a tax holiday.

In closing…and getting back to the main point…with financial security back on the menu for the American middle class and working class, all of this business about age, sex and race would take a back seat to unity and cooperation.

Financially content people do not spend a lot of time drawing lines in the sand.

However, sometimes I think that politicians…and pundits & the press as well…would rather see our great nation divided than united, i.e., divided along the lines that are the apparent emphasis of this web log.

OK Jack

Posted by OK Jack | Report as abusive

Let me get this straight. All the blue-collar workers who embraced Clinton giving her big victories in WV and TN and some other states, well we don’t need to examine why they voted for her? But it’s a big deal that the media would discuss her strange laugh?

Clinton benefited immensely from racism in this country and the old media establishment wants to whine on and on that Clinton was not treated fairly. Where’s the balance? Wake up, you’re doing serious damage to the cause of a female president!

Posted by Stewart | Report as abusive

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour is absolutely correct in her assessment that the ignominiously-displayed and blatant level of sexism in this campaign is indeed “insulting and unacceptable” coming from the major world exporter of Democracy. And yes, the “lack of accountability for dissing women” by the resident media misogynist frat-boys was [and is] truly “appalling”. If one gives a damn about human rights, including those of their daughters,that is!

As the DNC Chair Mr. Dean said himself (too late in the game to sound sincere or even brave!) the level of sexist commentary in this campaign was incredible, and probably contributed to Sen. Clinton’s campaign deficit…Racist commentary, equivalent to the sexist commentary on Hillary Clinton, had it been levelled against Obama, would have been actionable and talking heads would have rolled. Anti-semitic and racist remarks have all but disappeared in the networks’ lexicon. But woman-bashing on-air by the resident misogynist frat-boys is braggable, having become the new national blood sport!

Let’s hope that Hillary’s 18 million cracks on the top ceiling will allow sufficient light to shine on those glaring gross inequities at the expense of women and girls–and perhaps cure the distorted Obamyopic bush-league vision of those who refuse to see the hurt and harm along the way…

Posted by mary sakel | Report as abusive

I feel very strongly about the unfair and biased way Hillary Clinton was covered throughout the campaign. I am 78 years old and signed on and worked for her very early, afraid that many women my age would resent the fact that she had opportunities they had not had. Instead, they were her most loyal supporters, happy that she and many others of her age finally had the opportunities that had been denied them. What is most disheartening to me is the fact that millions of YOUNGER women did not support her and seemed totally unaware of what a truly monumental mountain she had climbed to get there. Millions of other boomer women, including my own daughter, a professor at U. of Michigan, could testify to the prejudices they faced as they sought careers in earlier decades. Until women support other women, much as African-AMericans are supporting Barack Obama, we will never have a woman president, and I find that
extremely disheartening. Books need to be written about the disparities between the way Hillary was treated, compared to Obama and McCain.

Posted by Ona Iverson | Report as abusive

Kudos to Ona Iverson and Mary Sakel for being able to distinguish to issue clearly. I attended yesterday’s conference at the Paley Center and it was gratifying to hear such well informed discussion about an issue that, until it is addressed and remedied, will continue to eat away at the core of our civilization. When ONE group of people is maligned, ALL groups are maligned, and all are enslaved if it this is permitted to continue.

And, Kudos to the Women’s Media Center and the Paley Center, who, along with the White House Project and the Maynard Center for Journalism Education, and all panel members, for convening this most important conference.

Posted by M. Delano | Report as abusive