Friday, February 29, 2008

Does Obama get a Pass from the media?

Carol Jenkins on Alternet yesterday wrote this column regarding the media's role in the handling the two democratic top runners, especially this past Tuesday's debate (2.26/08) in Clevelan Ohio.

Jenkins does give Brian Williams a passing mark, but I think he did not do his job. He cut Hillary Clinton off for a commercial break when she said Obama did not answer the question regarding his subcommittee on Foreign Relations, Europe that includes jurisiction of NATO, saying they will get back to that question after the break. But after the break--the subject did not get brought up.

Here is the section from the debate transcript from

. . .
CLINTON: And I believe this is in the best interest. But I alsohave heard Senator Obama refer continually to Afghanistan, and hereferences being on the Foreign Relations Committee.
He chairs the subcommittee on Europe. It has jurisdiction overNATO. NATO is critical to our mission in Afghanistan. He's held notone substantive hearing to do oversight, to figure out what we can doto actually have a stronger presence with NATO in Afghanistan.
You have to look at the entire situation to try to figure out howwe can stabilize Afghanistan and begin to put more in there to try toget some kind of success out of it. And you have to...
RUSSERT: All right. Let me...
CLINTON: ... work with the Iraqi government so that they takeresponsibility for their own future.
RUSSERT: Senator Obama, I want you to respond to not holdingoversight for your subcommittee. But also, do you reserve a right asAmerican president to go back into Iraq once you have withdrawn withsizable troops in order to quell any kind of insurrection or civilwar?
OBAMA: Well, first of all, I became chairman of this committeeat the beginning of this campaign, at the beginning of 2007. So, itis true that we haven't had oversight hearings on Afghanistan.
I have been very clear in talking to the American people aboutwhat I would do with respect to Afghanistan. I think we have to havemore troops there to bolster the NATO effort. I think we have to showthat we are not maintaining permanent bases in Iraq because SecretaryGates, our current defense secretary, indicated that we are gettingresistance from our allies to put more troops into Afghanistan becausethey continue to believe that we made a blunder in Iraq. And I thinkeven this administration acknowledges now that they are hampered nowin doing what we need to do in Afghanistan in part because of what'shappened in Iraq.
Now, I always reserve the right for the president -- as commanderin chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we arelooking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a basein Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the Americanhomeland and our interests abroad. So that is true, I think, not justin Iraq, but that's true in other places. That's part of my argumentwith respect to Pakistan.
I think we should always cooperate with our allies and sovereignnations in making sure that we are rooting out terroristorganizations. But if they are planning attacks on Americans likewhat happened on 9/11, it is my job, it will be my job as president tomake sure that we are hunting them down.
WILLIAMS: And Senator, I need to reserve...
CLINTON: No, but I have -- I just have...
WILLIAMS: I'm sorry, Senator.
CLINTON: No, wait a minute. I have to...
WILLIAMS: I've get to get us to a break.
CLINTON: The question was about invading.
WILLIAMS: Television doesn't stop.
CLINTON: Invading Iraq.
WILLIAMS: Can you hold that thought until we come back from abreak? We have limited commercial interruptions tonight, and we haveto get to one of them now. Despite the snowstorm swirling outsidehere in Cleveland, we're having a warm night in the arena.
We'll return to it right after this.
WILLIAMS: And because our first segment went long and we are ina large arena...
... we are just now welcoming back both of our candidates to thestage and asking our cooperation of the audience. We're back livetonight in Cleveland, Ohio.
Senator Obama, we started tonight talking about what could beconstrued as a little hyperbole. It happens from time to time on thecampaign trail.
You have recently been called out on some yourself. I urge youto look at your monitor. We'll take a look.

. . .

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

(More) Sexism in the Media

I am reprinting Kim Gandy, NOW President's column on Media & Sexism--she puts forth a great argument about sexism in our society.

Ignorance and Venom: The Media's Deeply Ingrained Sexism
Below the Belt: A Biweekly Column by NOW President Kim Gandy

February 14, 2008
My email runneth over. I can't tell you how many people have emailed or
called me outraged by the sorry display of sexism in the media these days.
Much of this venom is currently directed at one woman -- Sen. Hillary
Clinton -- though as we have pointed out before
, no woman in the
public eye, from Nancy Pelosi to Michelle Obama, is exempt.
For the first time in our nation's history, the idea of a woman president is
no longer limited to the fantasy world of TV or movies. Possibility could
become reality this November, and some folks are just having a hard time
dealing with it. That many of those people have high-profile jobs at major
news outlets is a cryin' shame.
We've been down this road before –- yes, NOW called out the media's bad
behavior several times last year, and thousands of women and men
demonstrated their agreement by signing our petition
serious and fair election coverage. Well, we're barely into 2008, and
already we have plenty of fresh examples of the media's failure to clean up
its act.
The press have been brutal to Clinton, no doubt about it. Whether
consciously or not, too many reporters, commentators, pundits and the like
appear unable to critique Hillary Clinton without dusting off their favorite
sexist clich├ęs, stereotypes and insults. Some of these remarks seem mild,
while others are offensive and truly outrageous. Taken together, they create
an environment of hostility toward all women, not just Senator Clinton. At
this moment it feels like she is a stand-in for every woman who has ever
tried to get ahead and be taken seriously by the powers that be.
There are four common themes in media coverage of Clinton's candidacy:
First, Clinton is criticized using a gender-based grading system. The media
evaluate how she looks, dresses, talks, laughs and even claps. She is held
to double standards familiar to working women. A man demonstrates toughness
and strength; a woman who behaves similarly is called icy and rigid. His
behavior shows compassion and warmth, but her similar behavior shows too
much emotion and maybe weakness. He knows how to work the system; she is
manipulative. He shows a mastery of the subject; she is nit-picky. He thinks
through all the options before charting a course; she is calculating.
Second, our society still has not come to terms with ambition in women -- it
is suspect. Clinton is frequently charged with doing or saying anything to
win. But I think it has an extra sharp anti-woman overtone as it is used
against Hillary. In other words, everything Clinton does to win the election
-- strategizing, organizing, confronting, comparing and contrasting -- is
interpreted as calculating, fake or just plain evil. But when a man
campaigns hard, refusing to cede an inch, they call it . . . running for
Third, Clinton is presumed to be where she is today because of her husband,
Bill. The fact that Clinton has a famous former president for a husband is
used to discredit her own achievements and to imply that maybe she couldn't
have made it on her own. I’m trying to remember if any of these commentators
implied that George W. Bush shouldn't be taken seriously as a candidate
because his father had been president. Or that people shouldn't vote for a
certain male candidate because he clearly got a leg up from his powerful
family's money, legacy? Or say from the advantages bestowed by his wife's
fortune? Who's to say that if Hillary had taken the fast-track first,
instead of Bill, she wouldn't have risen to the top before him?
Finally, when all else fails, belittle the voters. Women voters are
irrational and biased, and voting only on the basis of gender, the press are
happy to intimate (at least about the women who are voting for Hillary), and
they not so subtly imply that all voters are stupid and shallow. When the
pundits try to mind-read the general public to guess why they cast their
ballots one way or another, they often conclude that voters make decisions
based on the same superficial traits that fascinates the talking-heads
themselves -- like who seems "comfortable in their own skin" or who strikes
them as annoyingly nerdy.
One more thing: Hillary Clinton, and women in general, aren't the only ones
subject to gender-based assessments. Barack Obama and John Edwards have also
been degraded when the media detect in them "feminine" characteristics or
behaviors (like paying attention to your appearance) that supposedly are
unbecoming in men. That's right, both women and men can be poked with the
"girls are icky" stick.
Regarding women and men and politics, we really ought to be past the tree
house-years. It's not just those in the public eye who are hurt when the
media promote sex stereotypes. Daughters everywhere are hearing the message
that a woman can't be as competent and effective a leader as a man. Or that
all strong women are ball-busters (or nut-crackers) -- right up until they
finally reveal that they're just weepy wimps. (Never trust a crying woman.
She's after something, you know.)
Just so you don't think I’m making this up, here are a few (of course I had
to leave out MSNBC's Chris Matthews
because he deserves a whole
list all by himself) -- of the latest offenders:
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, Feb. 13, 2008

Relaying a joke told by Penn Jillette: "Obama is just creaming Hillary. You
know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it's not fair, because
they're being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And
unfortunately for Hillary, there's no White Bitch Month."
Katie Couric, CBS's 60 Minutes, Feb. 10, 2008
Interviewing Clinton: "What were you like in high school? Were you the girl
in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand? . .
Someone told me your nickname in school was 'Miss Frigidaire' -- is that
David Shuster, guest-hosting MSNBC's Tucker, Feb. 7, 2008

Regarding Chelsea Clinton making calls for her mother's campaign: "[T]here's
just something a little bit unseemly to me that Chelsea is out there calling
up celebrities saying, 'Support my mom.' . . . doesn't it seem like
Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
Lester Holt, MSNBC's primary coverage, Feb. 5, 2008

Incredulously, apparently shocked by exit poll results: "With the field of
Democratic candidates reduced to two, we asked primary voters, 'Who would
make the best commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces?' And here, it was
Hillary Clinton who was the clear favorite. The first woman candidate with a
serious shot at winning the presidency beat out her male rival -- look at
these numbers -- 50 percent to 35 percent. Keep in mind, this at a time the
nation is fighting on two fronts."
Andrew Sullivan,, Feb. 4. 2008
"The second bout of public tears just before a crucial primary vote - after
no evidence that Senator Hillary Clinton has a history of tearing up in
front of the cameras - provokes the unavoidable question: should feminists
actively vote against Clinton to defend the cause of female equality?"
Bill Kristol (New York Times columnist), panelist on Fox News Sunday, Feb.
3, 2008
"Look, the only people for Hillary Clinton are the Democratic establishment
and white women . . . . White women are a problem, that's, you know -- we
all live with that." After other panelists stated their disagreement,
Kristol responded: "I know, I shouldn't have said that."
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, Jan. 30, 2008

"Like Scarlett O'Hara after a public humiliation, Hillary showed up at the
gathering wearing a defiant shade of red."
Mike Barnicle, guest on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Jan. 23, 2008

"[W]hen she reacts the way she reacts to Obama with just the look, the look
toward him, looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate
court, OK?"
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, Jan. 23, 2008

"It's odd that the first woman with a shot at becoming president is so
openly dependent on her husband to drag her over the finish line."
Tucker Carlson, MSNBC's Tucker, Jan. 22, 2008

"It takes a lot of guts for a rich, privileged white lady who is one of the
most powerful people in the world to claim that she is a victim of gender
discrimination. . . . She hasn't driven her own car in almost 20 years and
she's a victim of discrimination? I mean can't we both agree that's just
Gail Collins, The New York Times, Jan. 10, 2008.

"The women whose heart went out to Hillary knew that it wasn't rational. .
they gave her a sympathy vote."
Chris Matthews, guesting on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Jan. 9, 2008

"Let's not forget -- and I'll be brutal -- the reason she's a U.S. senator,
the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a
front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator
from New York."
If you share my concern about the level of media sexism, sign our petition
to the media
NOW and tell them that their sexist campaign coverage must stop.
Thanks to our friends at Media Matters for their excellent research on media
sexism which contributed to these links.
Recent Below the Belt columns XML

Copyright 1995-2008, All rights reserved. Permission granted for
non-commercial use. National Organization for Women
(This was printed from

The Gender Gap: a funny

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More Media Misogyny

Here is a blog which has been trackingthe media's sexist statements/coverage of Hillary Clinton

Friday, February 8, 2008

New Report on Domestic Abuse

A new Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey reports that nearly 25% of American women suffer domestic abuse (the figure is almost 12% of men do).
This is the CDC website--they do call this abuse "intimate partner abuse" I will post at another time my feelings about this renaming of battering, and what it does...but I am off to teach :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ulster County & Voting Machines

Resolution for public hearing at 6 PM tomorrow, UC office Bldg:
Proposed local law:
From Gary Bischoff:
"I have strong feelings about what type of voting machine Ulster County should have. There is no question in my mind that we should have Paper Ballot - Optical Scan (PB/OS) as opposed to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE). "
There have been many problems with DREs, and in fact several states including Maryland, Colorado, California and Ohio are scrapping DREs. There have been problems starting the machines on election day, machines dying during an election (just like when your PC dies due to a Windows problem), voter confusion, mysterious lost votes and outright hacking. Computer professionals who know and understand computer software and voting technology are against DREs. With DREs there is no paper trail built in. In other words, if there is a failure at any point during an election, the votes can not be retrieved. No recount is possible in a close election. DRE manufacturers have tried to correct this by adding a printer that prints out a paper record of each voter's selections. The added printer caused more problems. The printers have been another source of failure and the printer port added another security exposure because a hacker could get into the inner workings of the machine via the printer port. It takes longer for a voter to vote on a DRE than a paper ballot, causing either election day lines or more expense for additional machines.
PB/OS has many advantages, with the most important being that there is a verifiable paper trail with a ballot that is actually marked by the voter. It is a less complex system and a proven technology. It is less costly not only for the initial purchase, but for storage, maintenance and less reliance on expensive professionals employed by the vendor. When an election district grows, all that is necessary is to add more privacy stations where voters can fill in their paper ballots. One optical scanner machine can service many stations since it only takes a few seconds to put the paper into the machine, where it is read and the paper ballot falls into a locked box.
There was a decision late in January by the New York State Board of Elections regarding voting machines that should be used in every polling place in New York for handicapped accessible voting. New York State has rejected DREs and approved only the Automark and the Sequoia ImageCast scanner/marker for use in 2008 polling places. This decision by the State Board of Elections virtually guarantees that New York State will vote on paper ballots and ballot scanners when it finally replaces lever machines in 2009. However, Liberty, a manufacturer of DREs, has announced that they are resorting to legal action to try to change the State BOE decision. There will be other pressures and we need to remain vigilant since there is so much money involved in the implementation of voting machines across New York.
The law we are proposing for Ulster County is simple in that it requires any voting technology to provide a paper ballot that is marked by the actual voter. Ulster County would be the first county in New York to have a more stringent law regarding voting machine technology than the state or federal government. The hearing will be held at the Ulster County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston at 6 p.m. on February 6. Members of the public are invited and encouraged to speak at this hearing.

Gary Bischoff

Ulster County Legislators in Friend of Court appeal on Voting Machines...Legislators, Susan Zimet, D-New Paltz and Gary Bischoff, D-Saugerties joined in the submission. In Dutchess County, Legislator Joel Tyner submitted a brief.
See the Press Release here

Read Andi Novick's explanation of the suit to be filed in the
US vs NYS BOE and NYS here

Declaration of Voting Principles
a well written piece on voting by Mary Ann Gould here

For Gary's side by side analysis of Voting Machines click here

Monday, February 4, 2008

No More Misogynistic Media

I am sick of the misogynistic media.

Here are some resources:

Women's Media center:
Their tagline is "Making the female half of the world visible and powerful in the media."

Women in News and Media
They have a good media analysis--and great list of blogs/columns/resources

and of course, to take action we have our local Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media thanks to Andi Novick:

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Women Voting

In Sunday's NYT Mag section there is an article "16 Ways of Looking at a Female Voter"
which is food for thought.

Are women a voting block? Do we think as a monolith?