Campaign ’08: Did I Miss the Penis Coverage?

CNN’s Political Ticker is sending mixed signals.  The post Alexander Mooney is titled Clinton Seeks Cleavage Cash.  This is unfortunately phrased, to say the least:

White House hopeful Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign sent a solicitation to supporters Friday with the attention-grabbing header in order to decry a recent Washington Post article devoted to the New York Democrat’s chest — and raise campaign cash in the process. “Frankly, focusing on women’s bodies instead of their ideas is insulting,” Ann Lewis, a senior adviser to Clinton, wrote in the e-mail.

Clinton is fighting back against a really shitty media double standard.  One Alex couldn’t help but exemplify.  Take a look at how he closes his post:

But Clinton isn’t the only presidential candidate whose appearance has undergone scrutiny. Edwards’s pricey haircuts, Obama’s frequently ‘open collar’, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s V-neck sweaters, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s expensive make-up jobs have all been the subject of past media attention.

Notice the conspicuous lack of sexually specific anatomy among the male examples.  No quotes like “There was groin bulge on display Wednesday afternoon on C-Span2.  It belonged to Sen. John McCain.”.  You really only see this pulled on women like Jessica from Feministing, in particular those with power and influence.  Apparently the halls of power have a sex check at the door.

What Alex’s post says, intentionally or not, is hey, Hillary is using her breasts to fundraise, and all the other candidates have their appearances critiqued, so she might as well lighten up.

The thing is, this is getting tiresome.  She’s a woman.  We get it.  Hearing a thousand variations in high and low key notes along the lines of “OMG a woman is running!” is as grating as every “My God, Obama is Black, and he might be President” article.

There are more than enough stark policy differences to separate the wheat from the chaff.


9 Responses

  1. Stark policy differences : are you serious ? “Fighting” the GOP on that basis is as good as conceding the battle.
    They control the media. Disinformation is the order of the day.
    Check out the notes I posted under ‘Intel: Why the right wing gets it ..’ on the Blogroll. It’s not even the only relevant entry.
    People have been losing with policy platforms for a long time. Logic does not provide sufficient motivation for the stupid and disinterested. That’s not to justify mind control : but it isn’t just a whacko idea.

  2. Southern conservatives, AKA, NASCAR nation, must be horrified by the Democratic frontrunners.

    Ghast! A woman and a black! Yikes!

    Where is Freddy Thompson to make them feel comfortable again?

  3. That’s funny, Christopher ! 🙂

  4. opit,
    Yes, but I should probably explain a bit better. I mean the media should focus on outlining policy differences, rather than getting stuck up in the sensationalist framing of minorities assuming positions of power. While to some degree this is newsworthy, the extent and manner of the coverage, as exemplified by the noise over Hillary’s anatomy, is more about perpetuating stereotypes than shattering them.

    I think progressives absolutely need to drop the notion that the truth alone will set one free. We need to spin, frame, and be very rhetorically savvy.

    But we also need to call upon the media to inform, and to be aware of the impact of their coverage.


  5. Media are businesses. Even online, you can follow techniques for ‘media whoring’ by snappy titles : that’s what the spiders crawl for. People prioritize on-the-fly in much the same way, gathering ‘impressions’ more than solid research.
    Barnum was right : you can’t talk over people’s heads – and many aren’t too bright.
    You and I are in the minority in wanting more. Online participation tends to do a default sort for those who are interested in being ‘up-to-speed’. Sure, we find many interesting people to talk to and read from – but they are a definite demographic minority.
    It’s back to 1984 and realizing that mass media are tranquilizing/conditioning devices ; adjuncts to the public school system.

  6. opit,
    True. But they are businesses that have a vital civic responsibility they (on the whole) fail to live up to. We need them to do so.

    Then one of the things we need to to is take steps to make that “more” desirable to a greater number of people. Then again, I think this idea that people don’t want more useful information is partly resultant from the current media, and partly a useful myth.

  7. Careful. You are close to stating the current privately-owned media are not adequate to the task : something that is almost a sure ticket to being branded a socialst. Saying that the state should provide information is equally simplistic. A variety of sources would be my preferred option.

  8. Heh. Well then buy me a ticket. People brand liberals “socialists” all the time as a weak escape from actually debating the issues at hand. Ironically, it is nothing more than a show of weakness on their part, and I welcome that. Let’s me know where to strike, so to speak.

    I think a mix is a rather good idea. But we also need a culture, social norms if you will, that demand a better media.

    In that mix, a publicly funded privately run group would be a nice thing to have.

    (Of course, I never explicitly offered an alternative. Oftentimes the assumption is that whatever will be the alternative will inevitably be simplistic.)

  9. Society has pioneered different approaches . People tend to forget that many efforts of the past were co-operatives because business wouldn’t take the risks and government wasn’t capable of mustering the necessary resources.

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