Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Steve Rhodes - The Only Liberal Who Calls Out the Universal Hypocrisies on Sarah Palin

I am as proud of Steve Rhodes as any man can be and I am as sexist as I am allowed to be.

Steve Rhodes publishes, contributes to and edits what I believe to be the finest Chicago clearinghouse on news, sports, culture, poetry and common sense on the Information Superhighway invented by Al Gore, who also invented Global Warming - The Beachwood Reporter.
Steve Rhodes is a journalist in city where most columnists come off as suck-ups and snitches in a classroom dedicated to suck-ups and snitches.

Steve Rhodes and I share a love of the written word and a reverence for - at least a nod to truth and common sense.

Today, as he does most days, Steve Rhodes holds the Diogenian Lamp over the suck-ups and snitches in the classroom over the treatment of the Thrilla from Wasilla - former Alaska Governor and GOP V.P. candidate Sarah Palin.

I like Sarah Palin. On my basest level ( one to which I cling in spite of my better angels), I think that she is very easy on the eyes. I am a sexist - devout, drooling, but not without shame. I love women almost as much as Rachel Maddow and much more than Sir Elton John. Gee let's see which person would I enjoy hanging around with . . . weepy Joan Walsh? . . . Rep. Rosa DeLauro? . . .( both of whom would sicken a billy goat raised on barbed wire and broken beer bottles) or Sarah Palin?


I also like Sarah Palin as a person - she seems like a fine mother and seems very happy. Happiness really upsets American Progressives - unless of course they happen to be burning witches at the stake or engaging in universal self-loathing.

Voila! Rhodes on Truth!

The Palin Exception
By Steve Rhodes
One thing I learned this week - well, I re-learned, I've faced it before - is that sexist coverage of female politicians is an awful thing unless the pol is Sarah Palin. Then it's perfectly acceptable to at least a certain number of progressive feminists in and out of the media.

Why? Because if you despise someone's politics, they apparently no longer can be defended on any other grounds. Apparently it was always about politics, not principle.

So when I posted Reporting Palin, I shouldn't have been surprised by the depressing responses I got from some quarters.

As I've written before, the whole of America seems to need a civics lesson in how to carry on political discourse, decipher the media, and learn to think for themselves like the actual, independent citizens that democracy calls for.

And much of the media still needs lessons in how to do their jobs.

Here is the simple proposition I was operating under:

"Sexist coverage of Sarah Palin is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Laura Bush, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Michelle Obama, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Kay Bailey Hutchison, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Nancy Pelosi."

How silly of me. Haven't I learned by now of the Palin Exception?

Her politics are so despised - in part justified in my view, but also in part based on a lot of debunked nonsense akin to Al Gore's never-made claim to have invented the Internet - that certain principles go out the window.

But she has a right to her politics. She also has a right to covered fairly - even if she, like many other politicians, including our president, doesn't always play fair. Make that part of the reporting, but don't demean her because of her gender.

Just to reiterate, here is just a slice of the record.

1. "From Ferraro to Palin: Sexism in Media Coverage of Vice Presidential Candidates." By Caroline Heldman, Occidental College.

"We find persistent gender differences in mention of dress/appearance, mention of candidate family, gendered policy coverage, and negative tone that disadvantage female candidates. Additionally, female candidates are four times more likely to receive sexist media coverage, and the intensity and volume of sexist coverage increased dramatically from Ferraro's run in 1984 to Palin's run in 2008. We also compared Palin's coverage in Old Media (print) and New Media (blogs) and found that sexist coverage and negative coverage are more pronounced in this new medium."

2. "Like Hillary, Sarah Faces Media Sexism." By Marie Cocco.

"[T]he media will continue to subject Palin to the unapologetic sexism that has been directed at her since the very first hours after John McCain announced that she was his pick to be the Republican vice presidential nominee - and which continued to animate coverage of her, right up through a lengthy political profile in the current issue of Vanity Fair.

"Almost as certain, my colleagues will seek to defend the indefensible as something Palin brought upon herself - by being too ignorant, too unpredictable, too touchy, too hypocritical, too loose with facts, too inept at governing, too flirty, even too obviously fertile. Yes, this is one of the assertions made in the Vanity Fair profile . . .

"Almost as soon as she'd finished her breakthrough speech at the Republican National Convention, one columnist for the liberal online magazine Salon called Palin a 'dominatrix' and a 'pinup queen,' referred to her 'babaliciousness' - and described her convention address as having been charged with enough sexual energy to give the partisan crowd a 'collective woody.' Another Salon columnist described Palin as a 'Christian Stepford wife in a sexy librarian costume" who was, for the most ideological Republicans, a 'hard-core pornographic centerfold spread.'

"Palin early on was called 'Stepford Barbie' and 'Caribou Barbie' - terms used even by highbrow commentators, who find it acceptable to liken Palin to the impossibly proportioned fashion doll. The Barbie epithet marked Palin as an object of sexualized fashion fascination well before it came to light that the vice presidential nominee had used Republican Party funds to buy an expensive campaign wardrobe."

3. "Media analyst sees racism, sexism in election coverage." By Holly Jackson.

"Audible gasps filled Ellis Auditorium at MU on Tuesday night, as Pozner played a clip featuring CNBC talk show host Donny Deutsch saying Palin was a woman he wanted to lie next to in bed and Clinton should have put on a skirt."

4. "Geraldine Ferraro Accuses Media Over 'Sexist' Scrutiny of Sarah Palin." By Tom Baldwin.

"Ms Ferraro remains angry at the 'sexist treatment' of Mrs Clinton by the media. 'In New Hampshire, someone put up a sign saying Iron My Shirt. Nobody spoke out. Imagine if Hillary's supporters had said [to Obama] Shine my shoes. Everybody would quite rightly have been jumping on it. Women in politics should not be treated better than men, just fairly.'"

5. "Estrich On Sexist Attacks On Palin." By Jim Lindgren.

"Susan Estrich, former Dukakis campaign manager, just said on Fox that she was appalled by the attacks on Palin [and called them] 'really unfair' and 'really sexist.'"

6. "Juan Williams: 'Centerfold' Palin Successful Because She's Attractive." By Lachlan Markey.

"Fox News contributor Juan Williams, also a reporter for NPR and the Washington Post, was at a complete loss when Sean Hannity told him last night that he would rather Palin be president than Barack Obama. 'Your libido is getting in the way of your thinking,' Williams told Hannity . . . 'I think she is a superstar centerfold for conservative men.'"

7. "Clinton Aides: Palin Treatment Sexist." By John Harris and Beth Frerkring.

"Sarah Palin found some unlikely allies Wednesday as leading academics and even former top aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed the Republican charge that John McCain's running mate has been subject to a sexist double standard by the news media and Democrats.

"Georgetown University professor Deborah Tannen, who has written best-selling books on gender differences, said she agrees with complaints that Palin skeptics - including prominent voices in the news media - have crossed a line by speculating about whether the Alaska governor is neglecting her family in pursuit of national office.

"'What we're dealing with now, there's nothing subtle about it,' said Tannen. 'We're dealing with the assumption that child-rearing is the job of women and not men. Is it sexist? Yes . . . '

"* Liberal radio host Ed Schultz used the words 'bimbo alert' to refer to Palin, and the Huffington Post featured a photo montage of Palin with the headline, 'Former Beauty Queen, Future VP?'

"* CNN's John Roberts recently pondered on air: 'Children with Down's syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?'

"This line of inquiry was echoed by writer Sally Quinn, who in her 'On Faith' column for agreed that Palin is a 'bright, attractive, impressive person," but also asked, "is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job?'

"'Her first priority has to be her children,' Quinn wrote. 'When the phone rings at 3 in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make?'"

8. "'No One Will Ever Be Able to Take Your Place' as a Mom." By Richard Prince.

"'My question to Sarah Palin is this. Who is going to lead your children?' Sidmel Estes-Sumpter, a media consultant and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, asked on her blog on Friday.

"'I get it when you say you have a supportive husband who is always there for you. I get it when you complain that men aren't subjected to the same kind of questioning as women when it comes to family values. Been there . . . done that . . . got the t-shirt. But Sarah . . . GET REAL. No one will ever be able to take your place as a mother. I'm telling you this not because of what I have heard. I'm telling you this because this is what I know.

"'More than 17 years ago, I was elected the national president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). . . the first woman in our organization to accomplish that. The biggest heartstring pulling at me was how it would affect my two year old son. That consideration almost forced me not to run.'"

9. "Newsweek Cover Races To The Bottom With Old Photo Of Palin." By Glynnis MacNicol.

"The weekly magazine, which since its relaunch has opted for increasingly blogosphere-like headlines to generate readers, apparently has decided that the best way to cover Sarah Palin's reemergence on the national stage is with an old photo from Runner's World . . . But resorting to a photo like this (and yes I realize she posed for it, though in an entirely different context) to illustrate such a condescending headline forces me conclude that Newsweek thinks Palin is an annoying little problem because she looks good in runner's shorts, and not a problem because, as both the magazine's articles suggest, she is the 21st century's version of Barry Goldwater, and has broad national appeal for a whole slew of reasons, very few of which having to do with how she looks in runner's shorts."

10. "Biden's Gloves Come Off . . . Against 'Sexist' Media." By Matthew Jaffe.

"[T]he truth is, some of the stuff that the press has said about Sarah, and that others have said about the governor, I think, are outrageous," Biden said. "I just think some of the stuff said has been over the top, totally unfair, and has been sexist, and I think the way the governor has handled it has been admirable."

11. "Matthews: Palin Like A 'Mail-Order Bride.'" By Ed Morrissey.

"No one will be surprised to see Matthews do this, but having Newsweek's Howard Fineman busting a gut and joining in the fun may be a bit of a surprise."

12. "From Gloria Steinem to Norah O'Donnell, Misogyny and Sexism Are Fine if the Target (Palin) Is on the Right." By Julia Reed.

"Blogs accused her of faking her own pregnancy with a Down syndrome child to cover up for her daughter. Mainstream journalists - female mainstream journalists - like Norah O'Donnell questioned whether a mother of five could effectively function as vice president. More piled on about her irresponsibility in accepting the nomination with five children, including one with special needs. Alan Colmes suggested on his blog that her airplane travel had possibly contributed to the fact that her child was born with Down syndrome. It went on and on and on. Where was the feminist outcry?

"Plenty of Republican women were sickened over the treatment of Hillary Clinton (hell, even I cried at the video that introduced her convention speech), but there has been no reaching across party lines to defend Palin. Not even when Martin Peretz dismissed and demeaned her by saying, 'I give [Palin] her due: she is pretty like a cosmetics saleswoman at Macy's.'"

13. "Eric Zorn's Sexist Folly." By Steve Rhodes.

"The Tribune columnist today retells the jokes of late-night comics about Sarah Palin without any recognition of how offensive many of them are."

14. "Palin as Pinup." By Steve Rhodes.

"I'm not sure what to do first, re-read Freud or call Susan Faludi."


Again, my simple proposition is this:

"Sexist coverage of Sarah Palin is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Laura Bush, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Michelle Obama, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Kay Bailey Hutchison, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Nancy Pelosi."

But when it comes to Palin, well, a lot of "progressive" women (and liberal reporters) simply don't care.


Steve remember what the poet and philosopher Al Sweringen from Deadwood told his minions - "You want a donkey's attention, you bring a #$%king pole down between his ears."
Yes Sir!


Stephen R. Maloney said...

Pat, a fascinating column by Steve Rhodes. However, she says at one point that, like other politicians, Sarah sometimes plays fast-and-loose with the truth. Oh really? And Rhodes' example is? Well, there is no example. It's true that Sarah, like all of us, has fallen short of perfection and sometimes says things that need qualification. But of all the politicians in America,she wants more than anyone to be truthful. I'd also ask Rhodes if being a liberal, as he is, contains within it the seeds of sexism directed at people who disagree with them. If so, isn't being a "liberal" something he might want to avoid? Liberals are by nature slime-buckets; thus, Steve might want to try not being a liberal.

pathickey said...


Liberals are Okay and tend to be fair and honest folks -unlike the Progressive.

Tamara N. Holder said...

I heart Steve Rhodes!

I wonder, can Steve see Russia from his kitchen window, just like Sarah can?

The best (and only) thing about Sarah is that she proves you can be older and still hot. I mean, really, imagine if she looked like Janet Napolitano. We would not be having this discussion!