early and often

Media’s Race and Sex Stumbles Getting Really Awkward


Photo: Courtesy of salon.com

The presidential campaigns of the first viable African-American and female candidates confronted their fair share of prejudices from the voters. Recall the audience member holding up a sign reading “Iron My Shirt” at a Hillary Clinton speech or … everyone in West Virginia. But we expected more from coastal, liberal media elites, who would ostensibly be enlightened enough to handle such historic firsts with grace and dignity. Our expectations, of course, were confounded.

Two big stories today scrutinize the press coverage of the Obama and Clinton campaigns. The Wall Street Journal examines the media’s uncontrollable urge to blurt out offensive things about the candidates, specifically Barack Obama. According to their count, cable television has been forced to issue ten apologies this campaign season for things they’ve said or written on air. Three of them happened this week, the first week of the general election (and we still have a few hours of Friday left), so maybe we’re just getting warmed up. With the introduction of an African-American candidate, apparently, “the lines of appropriate speech have become fuzzy.” Is calling a black candidate’s wife his baby mama wrong? It’s too fuzzy to know for sure!

The New York Times, meanwhile, has focused on the media’s handling of Clinton, which many supporters feel was sexist. The media begs to differ. Most media types feel the bad press Clinton received was brought on by her own actions. (Katie Couric, herself a veteran of a glass-ceiling struggle, dissents.) Like the Journal, the Times finds the most trouble originates with cable television, where, for starters, Chris Matthews claimed Clinton only got so far because her husband “messed around” and Tucker Carlson said that “When she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.” —Dan Amira

News Outlets Face Increasing Scrutiny in Campaign [WSJ]
Media Charged With Sexism in Clinton Coverage [NYT]

Media’s Race and Sex Stumbles Getting Really Awkward