Friday, June 6, 2008

The Whole World Is Watching

Howie Kurtz runs into a little trouble with his otherwise insightful column about whether we, the media, really want Hillary Clinton to go away because she and Bill provide us so much material. Eventually the headline read just "Please Don't Go"

But later Kurtz had to add this:

The original headline on this column was "Hey, Ho, Please Don't Go," which is, of course, a play on Vietnam-era antiwar chants that often began "Hey Hey, Ho Ho." It frankly never occurred to me that some readers would seize on the "ho" and view that as a disparaging remark about Hillary Clinton. As someone who has criticized some of the sexist treatment she has received, I regret if anyone took that the wrong way.)

Three things:
a. Not all of our readers these days will recognize a reference to events that occurred in 1968 or thereabouts. Especially when it only vaguely resembles the cadence you're trying to evoke.

b. Given the extreme anger many women feel toward the coverage of Hillary Clinton by the MSM--that's us--it's really a good idea to think twice and maybe three times before using the word "ho" anywhere near a story about her or any other women.

c. If you're not going to actually apologize, skip the fake sorry-if-you-were-offended routine.

Disclaimer: I will say again that I didn't vote for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary (OK, as a registered independent, I was locked out of my state's primary but neither would have been my first choice.) But having had a lengthy conversation with a political blogger yesterday, it's clear--surprise!--that humans see things in different ways.

The blogger was talking about what he saw as Clinton's nasty campaign against Obama and thought she should have dropped out in March to avoid damaging the Democratic Party. But I was more interested in talking about cable-news people and some print reporters who I considered to be disparaging and condescending to Clinton. The blogger thinks that Clinton supporters are blaming Obama for bad coverage; I said that the people I know were blaming us. And that sometimes we deserved it.

For example, when cable news brings on political operatives, including one who appears regularly and is identified as a "consultant" to the network, and allows him to say it's okay to call Clinton a bitch, I have a problem with that. Or with multiple other people on cable who complain about her voice or compare her to nagging wives wanting their husbands to take out the garbage. Or Tucker Carlson who said he felt compelled to "cross my legs" because of the effects of the tone of her voice. When a print reporter, 100 percent of the time and multiple times in any given story, refers to Clinton as "the former first lady" and never as "New York senator," while always identifying Obama as "Illinois senator," I see that as a deliberate attempt to diminish her political accomplishments. It's also possible to like one candidate but still object to how another is being covered.

I also wonder if the demands for her to immediately concede on the last primary night were a reflection of the intensified speed brought about by the internet--things happen, there are responses and counter-responses so quickly that anyone not near a TV or internet news source can experience a sense of vertigo once they tune in to whatever is happening.

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