No doubt I am glad to see that the primary season is over. I welcome the break in the action between now and the conventions.
Yesterday, I attended a panel discussion with John Nichols from The Nation, David Sirota, the author of Hostile Takeover and the new book The Uprising, and Robert “Biko” Baker from the League of Young Voters.
The panel addressed the “horse-race prognosticating, gotcha journalism and fluff” Americans have been subjected to in the media throughout this election circus. It asked why there has not been more substance in coverage since there have never been “more hours, pages, and gigabytes devoted to the election” in the history of this nation.
John Nichols energetically started the panel discussion off with a speech declaring, “Friends, comrades, we do not come to praise media. And though many of us would like to we are not here to bury it. But we are here to change it, fundamentally and forever so that it supports democracy in America.”
He offered words of wisdom on how to communicate with people who don’t get what the big deal is about media reform saying that we should tell people everything you hate about what our media has made of this 2008 election is what we want to change. And then he plunged into a detailed assessment of the legacy of the Jesse Jackson Rainbow Coalition.
His mentioning of Jesse Jackson highlighted how he forced media to let black journalists cover campaigns because “they were embarrassed to have just a bunch of white guys on the bus.” Jackson also said he would like to see gay/lesbian reporters, women reporters, and Latino reporters, etc.
In this campaign season, Hillary Clinton’s tenacity and refusal to drop out of the campaign actually created a job market for women reporters in the same way Jesse Jackson’s candidacy created a market for black journalists.
Nichols segued into the institutionalized racism of the media that diminishes the historic accomplishments of candidates. Pointing out how Obama’s winning of a state was reduced by saying that Jesse Jackson won that state before, he asked why we didn’t see media treat Hillary the same way during the election and reduce her wins by saying Clinton won those states when he ran for president.
Further addressing the racism, he added:
Blacks and women were not allowed to vote until 20th century and were not allowed to be imagined as presidents until 21st century. The media isn’t supposed to reinforce the fault line. The media is supposed to help us leap over it---illuminate it---and help us so we don’t trip. They’ve seen that faultline and reinforced it at every turn and tried to trip us up as a people at every turn. I’m not just talking about racism but sexism.
And the sexism he illuminated by going through all the memorable moments the media had slighted Hillary:
Tucker Carlson said Hillary reminds me a lot of Loreena Bobbitt. A writer for New Republic said Hillary Clinton is a hellish housewive. Chris Matthews described her as witchy, a she-devil, and a crass woman performing a public striptease.
Her laugh was called a cackle. When she spoke out loud and gave us a little passion, it was called fingernails on a chalkboard.
Pat Buchanan says she reminds me of everyone’s first wife standing out of probate court. A Fox commentator said when Hillary speaks men hear take out the garbage. Rush Limbaugh said now will America really want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis.
The New York Post had Barack Obama dressed in African garb and also used it to attack Hillary Clinton. They had a cartoon of Clinton pointing at him saying doesn’t he look scary. And she was dressed like a witch.
Do we ever step back and take notice of this racial and sexually insensitive coverage?
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