Donald Trump is a deeply unpopular candidate, especially with women. Without women, there’s no way Trump can defeat Hillary—at least, not on his own. He’ll need the corporate media’s help if he has any chance of competing in the general election.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) April 27, 2016
All throughout this primary, Hillary Clinton has received more negative media coverage than Donald Trump. As each of them emerged last night as the presumptive nominees from their respective parties, the pattern continued.
There is much reporting today on Trump’s sexist rhetoric during his victory speech (such as it was) last night, including his claim that, were Hillary a man, she wouldn’t have gotten 5% of the vote—an incredible assertion embedded with the implication it’s somehow easier to be a woman in US politics—and that all she has going for her is the “woman card.”
But in most of that reporting, one won’t find much analysis of Trump’s gendered rhetoric. Indeed, many news outlets will fail to even explicitly identify it as sexism.
They’ll report it, but they won’t condemn it. They won’t even sufficiently evaluate it, no less deconstruct how Trump is trading on old misogynist tropes and leveraging endemic sexism to try to discredit Hillary on the basis of her womanhood.
And they certainly won’t routinely and thoroughly explore how it is Trump, by virtue of his explicit appeals to gender bias, who is the one playing a gender card in this race.
Even when media figures appear to be calling out Trump, as Joe Scarborough did this morning, pushing back on Trump’s criticizing Hillary’s “shouting” by noting Bernie Sanders shouts, too, it was self-serving.
After being called out himself for saying Hillary shouts, Scarborough has retroactively tried to justify it by saying Bernie shouts, too. (As if the gendered context is irrelevant.)
In evoking Bernie, he wasn’t so much challenging Trump as attempting to deflect further criticism of his own sexism.
[Two men whose delicate ears can’t abide powerful female voices.]
It also served—if unintentionally—as a warning to Trump. Don’t go there; you’ll get yourself in trouble. A gentle nudge away from the precipice.
Many on the right will openly champion Trump’s sexism. Not so among the corporate media, who resort to more subtle manifestations of the gender barrier: Unflattering photos, discredited tropes about “low enthusiasm” and “likability,” diminishing the historical nature of Hillary’s candidacy, commentary on her voice and appearance, treating the cost of her haircuts as a news story, highlighting the opinions of women who don’t like her, as if women are a monolith.
And the failure to call Trump’s sexism exactly what it is. Reporting it without comment, while he turns the presidential election into an epic battle of the sexes.
It will be pervasive, and it will be insidious. And we will be paying attention.
Because we firmly believe that Hillary, like any other candidate, should only have one opponent in this race for the White House.
[Peter Daou and Ben Armbruster contributed to this piece.]
(Photo: Hillary for America)