This weekend, I wrote a long piece for BNR on the abysmal state of media coverage of Hillary Clinton, which is the culmination of decades of garbage coverage:
Hillary has been subjected, for decades, to a level of scrutiny so relentless and intense that it has somehow, incredibly, become acceptable to publish, under the auspices of legitimate news, an article inviting "body language experts" to assess the authenticity of her gestures – and to report that they find she is "dishonest" even in her very mannerisms.There is much, much more at the link—and, if you read only one thing I've written this election on the media and Hillary Clinton, please make it this one.
Somehow, alarmingly, it has become acceptable to ask Hillary, over and over, why people don't like her. A historic candidate who resoundingly won her primary and is leading the race for the White House. Why doesn't anyone like you, Hillary?
Somehow, enragingly, it is acceptable for panelists of talking heads to discuss her voice, her laugh, whether she smiles enough. To admonish her for "shouting." To talk about her hair, her clothes, her accessories. To sneer at her jokes and disdainfully disqualify any personal tidbit she shares as "pandering" and "cynical" and a desperate, pathetic attempt to connect to voters.
To openly laugh at anything she does that reveals her humanity.
This is not news coverage. This is harassment. This is rank dehumanization. This is abuse.
How have we gotten to a point where we tolerate this deeply sexist, deeply personal sustained attack on one of the most admired women in the world?
How have we allowed ourselves to become so inured to a public, ritualistic humiliation of one of our nation's most admired public servants?
Why do we expect that this overpoweringly unhealthy dynamic should be the cost of her public service, when no man in her position – including her disgusting opponent – is subjected to anything like this level of harassment and dehumanization?
Could any other human being survive this level of aggressive, ceaseless auditing, judgment, scrutiny, and personal criticism?
Why are the media doing this to her? And why are we allowing it to happen?
We published the piece in association with the hashtag #HillaryCoverageIsCrap, which was trending for much of the day yesterday and was the #1 trending topic for quite some time.
I did a lot of tweeting in the hashtag, and I've Storified those tweets for anyone who would like to read them.
Peter Daou and I knew, when we launched the hashtag, that it would eventually be hijacked by anti-Clinton trolls, and so it was. They are always keen to prove our point, and they couldn't have more perfectly done so than by disgorging into the hashtag a barrage of tweets reiterating the very mainstream media-facilitated narratives about Clinton that have been uncritically accepted by lots and lots of people.
And, as I predicted right in my piece, they accused me of saying Clinton is above criticism and that all criticism of her is sexist, despite the fact I never made either claim.
Longtime Shakers know how many years I have spent diligently documenting with integrity the media attacks on Hillary Clinton. I've been sitting in this dynamic for more than a minute. And I'm just completely done with calling this shit anything but what it is: It is abusive.
Certainly, there are some members of the media who have asked the sorts of questions I condemn—"Why don't people like you, Hillary?"—who feel very aggrieved by such a charge. I have seen members of the press get very defensive when called out on this shit. They're just doing their jobs. If she can't face a hard question, how can she be president? Etc.
But it's actually not the job of a journalist to ask stupid, demeaning questions in order to try to humiliate a woman in a way that a man never would be. And it's actually not that Clinton can't face these questions; it's that she shouldn't have to.
On this subject, I've seen journalists affect the posture that their journalism isn't problematic, as though it exists in a vacuum. It does not. The cacophony of bullshit questions, bullshit headlines, bullshit photos, bullshit coverage in its every iteration is what is the problem, and no one person is exempt.
And if you want to know whether my contention that hating Clinton is the cost of entry to jobs in the corporate media, and that hatred for her is uniquely acceptable, pay close attention to who isn't commenting in or about this hashtag and its subject—especially among those for whom the gross mistreatment of women would normally be something about which they are concerned.
Different rules for Hillary Clinton, in action.