catfight!

Two columnists at the Boston Globe seem to have very different opinions about what is fair media coverage of a woman running for President.

Caryl Rivers explains how any uncomplimentary media coverage is inherently sexist.

The media coverage of the Clinton campaign will be, for years to come, a textbook case of how the coverage of female candidates differs from that of males. Women have to walk a very thin line when they run for high office. On the one hand, they have to appear tough, nothing at all like a sniveling female, and when they do talk tough, they are called “shrill.”

The media loved Hillary when she put her hand on Obama’s and said it was a privilege to be on the same podium; they hated her when she slammed him for giving out what she called misleading information on her healthcare plan. (After googling “shrill” and “Hillary” after that encounter, I stopped at 20 pages.)

At the same time, the news media have gone into a deep swoon over Barack. Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz said, “Look, I haven’t seen a politician get this kind of walk-on-water coverage since Colin Powell a dozen years ago flirted with making a run for the White House. I mean, it is amazing.”

I guess the moral there is that the media can’t give Obama any sort of preference.. after all, he’s a man! (Notice how Caryl dodges the race issue, tho.. after all, he’s black!)

Then there is the Elinor Lipman, also at the Boston Globe. She seems to think that Hillary might not be the perfect candidate.. even though she’s a woman.. but because her personality throws up huge red flags.

Questioning a woman’s tone and delivery evokes charges of sexism, of biased preoccupations with niceness – as if no one ever complained about the Bob Dole snarl or the Dick Cheney sneer. How many times do we have to hear that when women get forceful, they are called shrill and angry, while bellicose males are lauded as strong and presidential? We get it. No one has questioned Senator Clinton’s toughness, or her readiness to be commander in chief. I hope “hectoring” isn’t a word that is more feminine than masculine, because I would like to employ it now.

My e-mailing friends took great and irretrievable offense when Senator Clinton rapped on our candidate’s knuckles with “So shame on you, Barack Obama!” for campaign mailers criticizing her healthcare plan. Paired up with her Providence soliloquy (“The sky will open. The light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing. Then everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect!”), she crossed some line in our maternal hearts. “Hillary off the deep end?” two friends wrote in near-simultaneous e-mails. “Off her meds?” wrote another. I wondered if these double rhetorical whammies might be a paler version of Howard Dean’s unintentional valedictory in Iowa in 2004.

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