I’ve been saying this for a while now: There’s something about a female presidential candidate that seems to give the media permission for a ritual public humiliation, something akin to a frat house hazing.


Here we see Patrick Healy,a New York Times reporter, almost approvingly noting that Hillary will have to prove her worthiness by enduring with aplomb a public campaign of personal attacks — as if that’s normal. As if it isn’t part of a deeply gendered assumption that women have to prove themselves again and again in a way that simply isn’t expected of men.

As if it’s not offensive.

For Mrs. Clinton, the coming battle is something of a paradox. She has decades of experience and qualifications, but it may not be merit that wins her the presidency — it may be how she handles the humiliations inflicted by Mr. Trump.

Trump is, certainly, attempting to humiliate Hillary. There is no question about that. But the way it works is that Trump launches a personal attack — often a sexist one — in a bid to humiliate her and the only way it stands a chance of serving that purpose is whether the media will repeat it ad infinitum until the sheer ubiquity of the attack makes “humiliation” possible.

Trump doesn’t and cannot “inflict humiliation” without the media’s assistance. He can lob attacks, half-truths, smears, and outright fabrications, but it is the uncritical repetition that does the real damage.

When it comes to this election, I see the media primarily as an efficient delivery system, a machine pumping out attacks against Hillary without bothering to question their own helpful role in that process.

You know: “I’m just standing over here, leaning against this wall, noticing that all these horrible attacks just suddenly fell out of the sky and I have no idea how it happened.”

It would be good for the country if the media were mindful about this offensive and unacceptable gender dynamic, but I’m not optimistic.