We have reached peak Hillary Hate, and I’m not going to mince words anymore: The media are complicit in fomenting escalating hatred against her. Their cavalier and irresponsible repetition of lies, uncritical reporting of conservative expressions of hostility toward her, and inflammatory headlines are creating a toxic environment that must change.
The national media’s treatment of Hillary has never been great. Whether it’s endlessly discussing her “likability,” or casually referring to her as “Godzillary” or “a Lovecraftian monster, the Cthulhu of American politics,” or depicting her with devil horns, or portraying her as a towering man-crushing monster, or constantly subjecting her to Remember Your Place pictures, or saying she “must be stopped,” they have long been prominent purveyors of narratives about Hillary being History’s Greatest Monster.
But their coverage in 2016 has been a total disgrace. A complete and utter embarrassment, culminating with this now-scrubbed headline care of the Washington Post:
Not only are the WaPo’s editors evidently watching a different convention than the rest of us if they imagine Donald is having “a moment of triumph,” but where is their sense of decency that they would say Hillary is in “the crosshairs”? Using such violent rhetoric at any time would be extraordinarily cruel, but to do so in the middle of a national nightmare of mass shootings is truly breathtaking.
And the replacement is hardly any better:
“Focus their fire.” This is truly unconscionable.
And it comes on the heels of another absurdly dishonest headline from them: The continuing political decline of Hillary Clinton.
The “political decline.” Of a woman who just made history. Who won her primary by a large margin and is leading in the general election polls. Who is the closest any woman has ever come to the White House.
The story opens thus: “If it weren’t for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton would be the most disliked major-party presidential nominee in recent American history.”
Sure. If it weren’t for Donald. It doesn’t have anything to do with a media who has been writing dogshit articles like this about her for thirty years.
And continue to write them, even as the Republican convention is peppered with unfathomable garbage like Dr. Ben Carson suggesting she’s aligned with the Devil and prominent speakers leading chants of “lock her up.”
After calling for someone who has never been convicted of a crime, or even indicted, to be sent to prison, where is there to go from here? Republicans’ hatred of Hillary has escalated to a point where literally the only room left is calls for violence.
And here we are: “Political rivals called on a West Virginia lawmaker to resign after he suggested on social media that Hillary Clinton be “hung on the Mall in Washington.” Republican Michael Folk is a United pilot, and was suspended by the airline.
Unfortunately, he’s not alone: New Hampshire state representative Al Baldasaro, who advises Donald on veterans’ issues, said “Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.” Repugnant, to say the least. And dangerous.
The fact is this: despite all the vitriol, Hillary is a popular presidential candidate. How can I make such a controversial claim, in spite of her high unfavorables (ahem) and relentless articles detailing how unpopular she is? Because she won.
Because in winning her party’s nomination, she defeated Bernie Sanders, who himself was a popular candidate, by millions of votes and hundreds of delegates. Because she was a popular First Lady. Because she was a popular Senator. Because she was a popular Secretary of State. Because she has been the most admired women in the world for two decades.
And, no, that’s not hyperbole.
But you wouldn’t know that Hillary is popular, if you depended exclusively on corporate media for your news—because there is a seemingly endless parade of stories about how unpopular she is (whoops!); how unliked she is (bloop!); how little enthusiasm there is for her candidacy (uh-oh!).
Another perfect exemplar, care of Politico: “Trump panic drives progressives toward Clinton.” Its subhead reads: “At Netroots Nation, there was little love for Hillary but plenty of concern about the need to defeat the presumptive GOP nominee.”
Little love for Hillary. Isn’t there always.
Except, you know, her Flickr account is filled—absolutely filled—with amazing images like these. Many of her supporters are deeply moved by her candidacy; they cheer for her; they show up for her; they smile when they see her.
But when it comes to Hillary Clinton, how her most avid supporters feel somehow doesn’t count.
Donald Trump is defined by his fervent supporters. So was Bernie. But not Hillary. The ardent supporters at her rallies are rarely mentioned—and even more rarely featured in news photos. Her large, loyal campaign staff gets less attention than Donald’s campaign of about three rotating bullies. Her supporters who publicly write about their zeal for her candidacy and/or her person are dismissed as shills, hacks, and minions.
Because no one could authentically like Hillary. Haven’t you heard? She’s unlikable.
Like most women, the standard by which Hillary is judged—and thus ever found wanting—is perfection. Anything less than perfection will not do. And naturally, how “perfection” is defined is an ever-moving target.
Let us never forget that, in the 1990s, Hillary was routinely demonized for being too liberal, too feminist, too liberal. And now she is demonized for not being enough of any of these things.
No candidate is perfect. But only Hillary gets subjected to endless stories framed by how not everyone “loves” her; how some of her supporters have criticisms of some of her policies (no kidding). As if these things are not entirely typical of every presidential candidate, but are instead an indicator that there’s something special and uniquely wrong about Hillary.
Even pieces that are nominally enthusiastic are couched in obligatory caveats about how “she’s not perfect, but…” As opposed to the presidential candidates who are perfect, one supposes. Whoever they are.
Perfection is an aggressively unreasonable standard. It’s quite literally dehumanizing: No human is perfect. And it sets up failure as the only possible result when judged by that standard.
Meanwhile, Hillary’s opponent is being measured against zero standards altogether. Donald can never disappoint, when the expectation is that he will definitely do the worst possible thing at all times.
If Donald only lies 27 times in a day, he’s congratulated for not lying 30 times. What a guy! Look at him—he’s really turning himself into presidential material!
This is simply not just. And with so much at stake in this election, it’s criminally irresponsible, too.
Whether Hillary is liked (she is) or popular (that, too) or garners enthusiasm (yep) isn’t actually even relevant to whether she can be a competent and effective president who champions policies that are in the nation’s best interests.
It’s the only area of measureable assessment, however, where the media can compare Hillary and Donald under the auspices of making it a horserace.
They create mendacious narratives about Hillary, broadcast them, poll people on their views (which is really just polling to see if their false narratives have resonated), and then report that people are regurgitating their negative reporting. This is a demonstrable pattern.
And then they juxtapose that information against the impossible standard of perfection.
I have a problem with this. Not just because it’s yet another iteration of how gender bias works against Hillary. Not just because it’s unfair in basic principle. Although those, too. But because my country’s future depends on Donald not getting elected.
I am deeply resentful of anyone who plays stupid Hillary-hating games when there is so much to lose by playing them.
And I am absolutely done with pulling my punches about how dangerous these games are becoming.