Campaign debates over sexism, racism, ageism rage on
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 Tuesday 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.
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Photo credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook (Obama)
Photo credit: Reuters/Lee Celano (McCain)
Photo credit: Reuters/Ana Martinez (Clinton)