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June 17, 2008

Volume 2, Number 7


It seems even journalists who reflexively scoff at conservative complaints about liberal bias will blame the media when their favorite candidate goes down to defeat. CBS's Katie Couric led the pack of those grumbling that Hillary Clinton's campaign was undermined by a "sexist" news media.

"However you feel about her politics, I feel that Senator Clinton received some of the most unfair, hostile coverage I've ever seen," Couric told a Washington, D.C. luncheon on June 11. The same day, on her "Katie Couric's Notebook" video blog on CBSNews.com, Couric alleged the Democratic primaries revealed "the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life, particularly in the media."

"Many women have made the point that if Senator Obama had to confront the racist equivalent of an ‘Iron My Shirt' poster at campaign rallies, or a Hillary nutcracker sold at airports, or mainstream pundits saying they instinctively cross their legs at the mention of her name, the outrage would not be a footnote. It would be front-page news." [Audio/video (0:33): Windows Media (1.99 MB) and MP3 Audio (168 kB)]

Couric, however, was not a big media-basher when Katherine Harris in 2000 and Linda Tripp in 1998 bore the brunt of far nastier journalistic attacks that could easily have been categorized as "sexist."

Earlier in the week, CBS's The Early Show brought on ex-Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder to scold journalists: "The sexism that we saw in some of the media really troubled me....It was like they made a witch out of her, some people. You know, we thought the Salem witch trials were over."

On Friday, the New York Times treated the complaints as a worthy topic, with a front-page article headlined: "Media Charged With Sexism in Clinton Coverage." Reporters Katharine Seelye and Julie Bosman even found their own paper among the culpable: "The New York Times wrote about Mrs. Clinton's ‘cackle' and the Washington Post wrote about her cleavage."

Surveys show journalists have strongly liberal views on women's rights and affirmative action. So do Couric and company really think a sexist press sank Hillary's campaign? Or do they just wish their candidate had received the lavishly positive press that buoyed Barack Obama's road to the nomination?

For more, see the June 10 and 12 CyberAlerts, and MRC’s TimesWatch, June 13.



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