KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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Political coverage

Article from Vanity Fair on the press coverage of the 2000 Al Gore presidential campaign. It's a bit old, from October 2007, and in a way it wasn't anything I didn't already know, but it was nice to see it all laid out that way. And good to get the reminder that the press always does this, where they decide on a narrative about our presidential candidates, and then focus on the things that reinforce that narrative.

Also timely, given what's going on in the media around us now. The Chicago Tribune gives us a particularly striking column about the way that Hillary Clinton's campaign has been covered. The author, Julia Keller (who, I should note, is not a political writer but the paper's cultural critic), takes the charge way beyond sexism:

Revealed in the coverage of Clinton's campaign is the persistence of an ancient and distasteful cultural theme: the powerful, ambitious woman as cackling fiend, as fantastically terrifying ghoul threatening civilization. And because this creature (or "she-devil," as MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews called Clinton) is not human, the only solution is to kill it. Not just derail its career—obliterate it. Smash it to smithereens. Vaporize it. Leave not a trace of the foul beast behind. ...

This is not simply sexism or racism.... [I]t is not just a commentator's opinion about a person's fitness or unfitness for public office. It is not about using colorful, vivid language in order to wish that a person might or might not continue a campaign. It is an unprecedented public call--albeit metaphorically, but still violently and persistently--for a person's death.

Really sobering. A good read. And also thought-provoking to read the article about the Gore campaign right afterwards, and to note the following quote:

Chris Matthews... adds, "The last six years have been a powerful bit of evidence that we have to judge candidates for president on their preparation for the office with the same relish that we assess their personalities."

I guess this is one of those things that's a lot easier to say than to live.
Tags: elections, politics, the media

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