Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan warned in her latest column that sexism was already beginning to creep into the 2020 presidential campaign — and accused the media of “amplifying” its effects.
“We’re a sexist society,” Sullivan wrote. “And the media reflect and amplify this.”
“One of the reasons it’s so fresh is that we’re hearing echoes of it, already, in the early coverage of the female Democratic lawmakers who have declared their 2020 candidacies,” Sullivan said, who added that much of the coverage of early contenders like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala D. Harris was unfair.
“In politics — as in so many other spheres — women get bashed far more than their male counterparts for personality quirks, vulnerabilities and actions of all sorts,” Sullivan said. “Not to mention their appearance and speaking voices. Think of how far a female candidate would get if she came off like the rumpled and ranting Bernie Sanders.”
In her argument the post media critic cited the role of “sexism” in the loss of Hilary Clinton in 2016, including opponents who mocked “Clinton’s voice (shrill), her laugh (witchlike), her purported lack of stamina, her marriage” and “her supposedly inauthentic love of hot sauce.”
In the aftermath of her loss to Donald Trump, many Clinton fans cited sexism as a cause including the former candidate herself — as Sullivan pointed out — in her campaign tell-all “What Happened.”
“If Trump ripped the shirt off someone at a rally and a button fell off my jacket on the same day,” Clinton wrote, “the headlines would report: ‘Trump and Clinton Experience Wardrobe Malfunctions, Campaigns in Turmoil.'” She also compared herself to “Game of Thrones” queen Cersei Lannister.
Despite charges of sexism, Clinton struggled even with women during the campaign. She famously lost white women like herself to Trump in 2016 — with the billionaire snagging 52 percent of their vote according to CNN exit polls at the time.