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“Same Misogyny, Different Season”: Liberal, Privileged, Predominantly White Male Adolescent Hate

Hillary Clinton’s ascendancy in the race for president has provided an opportunity for the rest of us women to step back and assess our standing in America.

This reflection is worth our time, particularly for those of us who are old enough to remember what it felt like to watch Clinton come so close to the nomination in 2008. This is a memory with many folds, some of them deep and dark and hard to shake out.

I’m not referring to her ’08 defeat. We got over that. Most of us got caught up in the inevitable — in retrospect, the impossible — optimism swirling around the young man who would become our first black president. I will never forget the sight of Barack and Michelle Obama and their beautiful daughters walking out on that Chicago stage on election night. I was standing in front of a television in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio, holding my sleeping grandchild, Clayton, in my arms. I was so full of emotion I could not speak.

My infant grandson’s first president would be an African-American. How could he not grow up to know a different world?

Most of the bad memories that linger from that campaign season involve the media coverage and all that punditry — particularly from the left — that preceded it.

Rebecca Traister, in her 2010 book “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” took on the “frat boys” at MSNBC, and the misogyny and sexism heaped on Clinton by too many young, white males on social media and in the Obama campaign. I reviewed her book for The Washington Post, and her description of their behavior has stayed with me:

“A pattern was emerging in the liberal, privileged, predominantly white climes in which I worked and lived: young men were starry-eyed about Obama and puffed with outsized antipathy toward Clinton. … I was made uncomfortable by the persistent note of aggression that marked their reactions to Clinton, and puzzled by the increasingly cult-like devotion to Obama, a man whose policy positions were not so different, after all, from those of his opponent. Hating Hillary had for decades been the provenance of Republican blowhards, but now men on the left were spewing vitriol about her voice, her looks, her presumption — and without realizing it were radicalizing me in my support for Clinton more than the candidate herself ever could have.”

Sound familiar? This year, I mean.

Only now, as I daily behold the latest round of anti-Clinton misogyny from — ta da! — mostly young white male lefties, do I realize how much that 2008 campaign season changed me. Like many of my female friends, I no longer gasp or wonder how these boys could be so mean. This time around, I mentally flick them away like gnats. Age has few glory-be benefits, but this immunity to such adolescent hate is definitely one of them. What grown man — what real man — thinks like this? We haven’t the time, my friends.

I am reminded of an exchange I had 14 years ago with my editor, Stuart Warner, soon after I first became a newspaper columnist. I was dumbstruck by the sudden, relentless flood of hate mail from a certain percentage of white, male readers.

“What am I doing to incite this?” I asked.

“Nothing you can change,” he said.

His words emboldened me, and for that I will always be grateful. If they hate you only because you’re a woman, you’ve already won.

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person running in this election, and she will be the first female president of the United States. I am certain of this, as I am certain that we will never stop hearing from that small percentage on the left who want to cast her as something less than human. It is impossible for a woman to reach her level of success and be anyone’s saint. So be it.

Last weekend, I was standing in our backyard when our 2-year-old granddaughter, Jackie, walked out the door and across the porch to join me. I lifted my camera and captured a memory that will stay with me for all of my cognizant days.

In the photo, she is a little girl with eyes forward, arms swinging, stride unstoppable.

In my heart, she is a little girl who, like so many girls, deserves to see a version of herself in the White House.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, April 21, 2016

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Misogyny, White Men | , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Master Media Manipulator”: It’s The Donald Trump Show, And The Media Are Nothing More Than Players

I wrote earlier about the peculiar spectacle Tuesday night of Donald Trump giving a 45-minute infomercial for his product lines, but I think it’s also worth noting how his post-primary press conferences illustrate his genius for media manipulation.

Two things specifically stuck out at me watching these performances. The first was that he stacks the first few rows of these events with his friends and supporters. And being a friendly audience, they eat up his shtick – laughing at his jokes and cheering on cue. For the casual viewer who doesn’t know any better, it might seem like he’s giving a “press conference” to an adoring media (as opposed to, say, a victory speech in front of supporters where crowd enthusiasm would be more expected).

Combine that with the second thing that has stuck out to me: When he gets around to taking questions, only he is mic’d up – you cannot hear his interlocutors’ questions. This gives him a couple of advantages. First, he can, at minimum, answer the question he wants to rather than the one asked, or he can go further, and on a rolling basis, screen out or ignore questions he doesn’t like. So Tuesday night, an NBC reporter reportedly – of course, TV viewers couldn’t hear the question – asked Trump about his verbal vulgarity and how parents should explain his language to their children. Trump didn’t like the question, so he didn’t answer it. Instead (perhaps taking a page from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bullying playbook) he derided the reporter: “Oh, you’re so politically correct, you’re so beautiful. Oh, look at you – aww, he’s so – oh I know you’ve never heard a little bad, a little off-language. I know, you’re so perfect. Aren’t you perfect? Aren’t you just a perfect young man. Give me a break. You know what? It’s stuff like that that people in this country are tired of. It’s stuff like that.”

What was the question? All viewers got was Trump the Dominant ridiculing a reporter while the rest of the audience at this “press conference” laughed along. It’s Trump’s show, and the reporters become muted bit players abetting him.

Of course that doesn’t even get at their bosses, the “cable news” execs who carry his every utterance as if he actually were the president. (And does any other politician get to phone in interviews as much as Trump, rather than having to get in front of a camera?) Look, I get that Trump has some entertainment value and that his unscripted nature means that you never know what is going to pop out of his mouth at any time. But there’s got to be some sense of balance and/or responsibility. Fox, CNN and MSNBC gave Trump 45 minutes in prime time. As Politico’s Hadas Gold noted Tuesday night, “Forty five minutes of uninterrupted TV time on the three cable news networks is the equivalent of millions of dollars in free media for a campaign – a stunning amount of TV time.”

And he gets it routinely, because he’s a master of manipulating the media.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, March 9, 2016

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Media, Reporters | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Media Not Doing Its Job”: Campaign Press Adopts The Trump Rules — They’re The Opposite Of The Clinton Rules

Switching back and forth between MSNBC and CNN last Thursday night as they aired competing, hour-long interviews with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, viewers ran the risk of whiplash. The threat lingered not just because Clinton and Trump were on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but because the tone and tenor of the two events seemed dramatically different.

Here were some of the questions posed to Clinton from the MSNBC event’s co-moderators, NBC’s Chuck Todd and Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart:

  • “What would you do to make possible that the [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival] students become permanent residents?”
  • “Would you ever imagine raising the retirement age in the next 10 years?”
  • “Do you foresee a time when the federal government would be able to include the undocumented [workers] in federal grants for education?”
  • “Should people start paying Social Security taxes on income over $120,000?”
  • “Is a presidential visit [to Cuba] a step too far? Would a President Clinton be going this quickly?”

By contrast, here were some of the questions posed to Trump from the CNN moderator, Anderson Cooper:

  • “What do you eat when you roll up at a McDonald’s, what does – what does Donald Trump order?”
  • “What’s your favorite kind of music?”
  • “How many hours a night do you sleep?”
  • “What kind of a parent are you?”
  • “What is one thing you wish you didn’t do?”

Obviously, those questions don’t reflect everything asked over the 60-minute programs. And I’m not suggesting Trump didn’t get any policy questions during his CNN sit-down. But the vibe from MSNBC’s Clinton event was definitely, Midterm Cram Session, while the vibe from CNN’s Trump event leaned towards, People Magazine Wants To Know. (One week later, Clinton sat for a CNN town hall where she did not receive any of the light, lifestyle questions that were asked to Trump.)

In a way, the interviews nicely captured the unfolding guidelines for the 2016 campaign season. With both Clinton and Trump enjoying big election wins last weekend and now apparently with inside tracks to their party’s nomination, we’re beginning to see signs about what the press coverage of a Clinton vs. Trump general election might look like.

Bill and Hillary Clinton have been in the public spotlight so long, and have been sparring with the Beltway press for so many years, that so-called Clinton Rules have been established. They outline the informal guidelines media follow when covering the Clintons.

The one-word distillation of the Clinton Rules? Negativity. Likely followed by distrust, snark, and condescension. Simple facts are considered optional and the Clintons are always, always held to a different, tougher standard than everyone else.

By contrast, Trump has only been in the campaign spotlight for eight months but I’d suggest the media’s Trump Rules have already come into focus: Intimidation, aggrandizement, and a lack of curiosity.

In other words, when you fly above the campaign season with a bird’s eye view, it seems inescapable that the press is being soft on the Republican, while at the same being hard on the Democrat.

Have reporters and pundits given Trump a complete pass? Absolutely not. (See more below.) Just as with the Clinton Rules, there are always exceptions to the coverage. But in terms of a vibe and a feel, it’s hard to claim that Trump is getting hit with the same relentlessly caustic (she’s doomed!) coverage that follows Clinton around everywhere she goes.

Can anyone even imagine what the relentless, almost hysterical, press coverage would look like if Clinton rallies were marred by violence, and if she denounced campaign reporters as disgusting liars? So far, neither of those phenomena from the Trump campaign have sparked crisis coverage from the press.

Some journalists are starting to concede the Trump Rules are in effect. The Washington Post just dubbed Trump a “unicorn” because he gets away with things no other candidate does. On Twitter, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith suggested “there’s obviously been a trade, mostly on TV, of laying off his dishonesty and bigotry on exchange for access.”

Pulitizer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin bemoaned the hands-off vetting of Trump:

Do we know, at this point, about his modus operandi in business? Do we know how he treated his staff? Do we know what kind of leader he was when he was building his business? I mean, I don’t know the answers to these things. All I know is that, when I see him now, it’s like his past is not being used by the media to tell us who the guy really is.

And neither do I.

For instance, I don’t know much about Trump’s finances. Clinton last year released eight years of tax returns but Trump won’t yet give a firm answer regarding if and when he’ll do the same. So why hasn’t that been a pressing media pursuit?

Last week, veteran Time political scribe Joe Klein also teed off on his colleagues, while appearing on MSNBC’s Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell:

It’s the most — probably the most embarrassing coverage of a candidate that I’ve seen in my 11-God- help-me presidential campaigns. First of all, we’re aggrandizing him like crazy because he boosts ratings. Second of all, we’re not doing our job.

Days later, leaked audio from MSNBC’s infamous Trump town hall event seemed to confirm a central claim that excessive Trump coverage — and usually the fawning variety — is good for business and good for media careers. During a commercial break after Mika Brzezinski thanked Trump for participating in the town hall event, Trump said, “I’m doing this because you get great ratings and a raise — me, I get nothing.”

They don’t teach that at journalism school.

Note that the strange part of the larger Trump Rules phenomenon is that the candidate mouths so much constant nonsense on the campaign trail, you’d think he’d dread going on TV and answering pointed questions about his bullying campaign. But it’s quite the opposite. Because even when journalists raise thorny topics with him, they usually give Trump a pass.

For instance, on Sunday’s State of the Union, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump about the white supremacist supporters he had retweeted, which certainly constitutes a probing question that likely made Trump uncomfortable, right?

Not exactly. While the initial question from Tapper was good, when Trump responded with a rambling, 600-word non-answer, which concluded with him vowing to bring jobs back from India, Tapper simply moved on to the next topic instead of drilling down on the fact that the Republican frontrunner was retweeting white supremacists.

Or hit the Wayback Machine to last September when Trump appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation and spun for host John Dickerson the fantastic tale about how 9/11 terrorists had tipped off their (mostly non-existent) wives about the pending terror attack, and had their (mostly non-existent) wives flown home days before hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center.

Dickerson’s response? He didn’t raise a single question about Trump’s concocted claims.

Print journalists seem to be doing a better job at fact-checking Trump. To his credit, Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post has called out some of Trump’s more outlandish claims. Kessler’s recent foray surrounded Trump’s “truly absurd claim he would save $300 billion a year on prescription drugs.”

Kessler’s conclusion? Trump is nuts. Or, more delicately:

Once again, we are confronted with a nonsense figure from the mouth of Donald Trump. He is either claiming to save four times the entire cost of the Medicare prescription drug system – or he is claiming to make prescription drugs free for every American.

Have occasional findings of fact like that changed the often-breezy tenor of Trump’s overall coverage? No they have not. Because two days after Kessler’s Medicare takedown, Trump was interviewed for an hour on CNN where the candidate wasn’t asked about his nutty prescription drug estimates. But he was asked what kind of music he likes and if he orders French fries at McDonald’s.

Welcome to the Trump Rules.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America; The National Memo,  February 25, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Creative Video Editing”: In 2016, Journalistic Fraud Still Looms Large

Alas, this is pretty much where I came in. Starting in 1994, when your humble, obedient servant was approached to contribute weekly political columns, I found the behavior of the national political press shocking and alarming.

Today, it’s even worse.

Even so, it’s not every day a TV talker apologizes for broadcasting a doctored video misrepresenting something Bill Clinton said about President Obama. So it’s definitely worth taking note.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did that the other night, at least temporarily persuading me that the network hasn’t yet gone full Fox News.

But first, some ancient history on a theme directly relevant to today’s Democratic primary campaign: Hillary the Big Liar.

See, by 1994 I’d been writing professionally for years, mainly as a literary journalist and monthly magazine reporter. The publications I’d written for employed assiduous fact-checkers. Opinions were expected, so long as they were grounded in fact. After all, what’s the point winning an argument if you’ve got to cheat to do it?

However, that’s not how Washington journalism works. One incident in particular astonished me.

In April 1994, Hillary Clinton had given a press conference about the make-believe Whitewater scandal. She answered every question the press threw at her for a couple of hours. The immediate effect was rather like last fall’s Benghazi hearings: her detailed answers calmed the storm. Having previously given sworn testimony to Treasury Department investigators probing Jim McDougal’s failed S & L, she was on solid ground.

Two years further on, ABC’s Nightline dug up a video clip of an answer she’d given about a specific issue and seamlessly deleted two sentences by substituting stock footage of journalists taking notes. Then they pretended she’d been asked a much broader question, and accused her of lying about the information they’d subtracted.

Specifically, Hillary acknowledged signing a letter “because I was what we called the billing attorney” for the Madison Guaranty account. Nightline charged her with concealing exactly that fact. Jeff Greenfield said no wonder “the White House was so worried about what was in Vince Foster’s office when he killed himself”—a contemptible insinuation.

Within days, the doctored quote was all over ABC News, CNN, the New York Times and everywhere else. Almost needless to say, Maureen Dowd ran with it. William Safire predicted her imminent criminal indictment.

In short, the theme of Hillary Clinton as epic liar began with an instance of barefaced journalistic fraud.

Everybody involved should have been run out of the profession. It wasn’t exactly an obscure mystery. Video of the press conference existed. The New York Times had printed the full transcript.

But there was no Internet. Beltway pundits covered for each other like crooked cops.

So anyway, last week Bill Clinton made a campaign appearance for his wife in Memphis. If you’d only seen it on MSNBC or read about it in the Washington Post, you’d think he made a political blunder, trashing President Obama as a weak leader.

On Chris Hayes’ program All In, the host chided the former President for going “a bit off message.”

MSNBC aired this video clip:

“BILL CLINTON: She’s always making something good happen. She’s the best change maker I’ve ever known. A lot of people say, ‘Oh well, you don’t understand. It’s different now. It’s rigged.’ Yeah, it’s rigged—because you don’t have a president who is a change maker.”

Full stop.

Ouch! To the Washington Post’s Abby Phillips, “it sounded like he was agreeing with one of [Bernie] Sanders’s central arguments about income inequality—but blaming the sitting president for it.”

Older and thinner, Mr. Yesterday was clearly losing it.

Except he wasn’t. The real villain was, once again, creative video editing. Tommy Christopher at Mediaite.com restored the full context.

So here’s what Bill Clinton actually said about President Obama:

“Yeah, it’s rigged—because you don’t have a president who is a change maker with a Congress who will work with him. But the president has done a better job than he has gotten credit for. And don’t you forget it!

(APPLAUSE)

Don’t you forget it! Don’t you forget it!

(LOUDER APPLAUSE)

Don’t you forget it. Let me just tell you. I’ve been there, and we shared the same gift. We only had a Democratic Congress for two years. And then we lost it. There’s some of the loudest voices in our party say—it’s unbelievable—say, ‘Well the only reason we had it for two years is that President Obama wasn’t liberal enough!’ Is there one soul in this crowd that believes that?”

Judging by the crowd response, there was not.

Mediaite.com’s Christopher put it succinctly: “This is an edit so egregious, it rivals the worst in dishonest political ads, and surpasses them.”

Greatly to his credit (and my surprise), Chris Hayes subsequently rebroadcast Clinton’s remarks in full. “We shouldn’t have done that,” he admitted.

No, they certainly should not.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, February 17, 2016

February 18, 2016 Posted by | Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Journalism, Network and Cable News | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“When Democracy Becomes Must See TV”: Is The United States A Democratic Republic Or A TV series?

To anybody who watches cable TV news, it’s clear that the nation has embarked upon a great political experiment. Its object would be instantly clear to readers of Neil Postman’s 1985 classic Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.

To wit, is it even possible for a democratic country to govern itself when news becomes “infotainment,” and infotainment news?

At any given moment, one of two TV “news” stories predominates to the exclusion of all other topics: Donald Trump and terrorism. CNN has covered almost nothing else since the tragedy in San Bernardino. Tune in any time, day or night, and it’s either Trump, terror, or panels of talking heads discussing them.

Meanwhile, the network had been running a countdown clock in the corner of the screen keeping viewers apprised of the weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds remaining until Tuesday night’s GOP debate—as if it were a moon launch or, more appropriately, a pay-per-view professional wrestling match.

In between live broadcasts of Trump’s speeches, advertisements feature full-screen photos of the contestants dramatically lit like WWE stars, promoting the upcoming Showdown in Las Vegas — the final Republican debate of the year!

Cue Michael Buffer: “Let’s get ready to RUMBLE…”

OK, so there will be something like 84 more debates in 2016. It’s nevertheless your patriotic duty to feel the excitement.

Or not. Actually, I see where the noted scholar and media critic Charles Barkley has beaten me to it. The famously outspoken basketball jock was recently asked his opinion of the GOP debates on TNT’s Inside the NBA.

“To be honest with you, CNN has done an awful job this election, an awful job. They have followed ratings and sound bites this entire cycle,” Sir Charles opined. “I love CNN because they’re part of our company, but they’ve been kissing butt, chasing ratings…. They follow every single sound bite just to get ratings for these debates. It’s been sad and frustrating that our company has sold its soul for ratings.”

(CNN and TNT are subsidiaries of Turner Broadcasting.)

However, it’s not just CNN. The TV networks generally, where most Americans get their news, have abandoned all pretense of public service in the drive for enhanced market share.

Quick now: Which cable network has covered Trump the most assiduously?

Surprise, it’s MSNBC. According to figures cited by Washington Post blogger Jim Tankersley, the allegedly left-wing network has mentioned The Donald some 1,484 times during the current campaign. That’s roughly 100 more mentions than CNN, and three times as many as Fox News.

Like CNN, MSNBC often breaks away from live programming to broadcast Trump speeches live — something neither network does for any other candidate, Republican or Democrat. That’s free campaign advertising no politician can afford to buy. The second most commonly cited Republican, Chris Christie, has drawn 144 mentions on CNN, the rapidly vanishing Jeb Bush, 88.

In a 17-person GOP race (now “only” 14), fully 47 percent of TV mentions have gone to Trump since he announced his candidacy last June. Is there any wonder the bombastic New Yorker is leading in opinion polls? His is apparently the only name many low-information voters can recall.

Look, Trump gives good TV. Under ordinary circumstances, for example, my sainted wife would prefer undergoing a root canal to a GOP presidential debate. I’m forced to record the fool things for professional purposes. Trump, however, she’ll watch, if only in the hope he’ll humiliate some rival fraud. Multiply her by a few million, and you’re talking real advertising dollars.

The New York Times, whose editors apparently have no TVs, recently devoted considerable column inches to the seeming mystery of “High Polls for Low-Energy Campaigners.”

Specifically, how come Jeb!, who normally does multiple campaign events every day, appears to be getting nowhere, while Trump, a comparative homebody, surges?

Um, let’s see: Morning Joe in the AM; followed by Good Morning America; a sit down with CNN’s Chris Cuomo; a face-to-face with NBC’s Chuck Todd, who basically calls Trump a barefaced liar, but invites him back for Meet the Press; next, a blustering speech covered live by MSNBC’s Hardball; followed by “Breaking News!” of a pre-recorded interview with Don Lemon.

And then to bed.

Would it also surprise you to learn that, according to the Tyndall Report, which compiles such figures, ABC World News Tonight has devoted 81 minutes of programming this year to Trump’s campaign versus 20 seconds total to Bernie Sanders, who arguably has more supporters? (Each man has roughly 30 percent support in his respective party, but there are many more Democrats than Republicans.)

In my judgement, neither Trump nor Sanders has a very good chance of becoming president. But that shouldn’t mean an exclusive diet of Trump’s bombast, braggadocio, conspiracy theories, and bald-faced lies simply because the one-time “reality” star gets good ratings.

Is the United States a democratic republic or a TV series?

 

By: Gene Lyons, The New Republic, December 16,2015

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Cable News, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Network Television | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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