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Howard Dean calls out the media on sexism

As we've noted before, the issue of bias -- against Hillary Clinton because she's a woman, against Barack Obama because he's African American -- has been an underlying theme in this year's contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.  On ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning, host George Stephanopoulos raised the matter yet again in discussing with Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean the party's hopes for unity in the aftermath of Saturday's contentious meeting over the seating of the Florida and Michigan convention delegates.

Asked about an op-ed in the Boston Globe last Friday by 1984 vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro (who got in trouble in March with her own racially tinged remarks about Obama) ...

Dean replied:

There has been an enormous amount of sexism in this campaign on the part of the media, including the mainstream media.  We'll leave present company excepted, because I think that's true.  But there have been major networks that have featured numerous outrageous comments that if the words were reversed and they were about race, the people would have been fired. 

So that's a big issue.  And there are a lot of women in this country who -- there's two issues here.  One is one candidate is ahead and one is not.  That happens all the time in primaries, and you get over that.  What you don't get over is deep wounds that have been inflicted on somebody because they happen to be a woman running for president of the United States. 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Does Barack Obama get over it by choosing Sen. Clinton as a running mate? 

DEAN:  We don't know.  But I do believe that the issue of sexism in this country has to be addressed. 

-- Leslie Hoffecker

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Gimme a break. What about deep wounds to Obama because he's black. She didn't lose because she's a woman, she lost because she's a Clinton.

And this statement by Howard Dean goes to prove something I've long suspected from his wimpy leadership during this whole campaign -- he's afraid of the Clintons, and doesn't want to incite their wrath, so he's been playing footsy. Can he really believe this is why she lost? I don't think so.

That's what happens when all you have is old white men running the media.

She may not have lost because she is a woman but that certainly didn't help. Whether I like Ms. Clinton is irrelevant; fact is she is a woman and no presidential candidate, no matter how qualified or unqualified, deserves nutcrackers (for example). Did the media consistently run flattering pictures of Obama and unflattering pics of Clinton? of course. That needs to be addressed.

Thank you Howard Dean! A man not afraid to speak the truth!

There is definite sexism in this election! How can it be that OB is having the most delegate and superdelegate count when he's who he is? It just goes to show that a woman can and will not get all that support because she's a lady. I began getting this view when all the past "big name democrates" like: Kennedy, Daschule, Kerry, Richardson, Dowd, Biden and so forth all endorsed OB. So they weren't voting by 'race,' but by gender! Including all the "big name media news reporters" who are reporting everything negative about Senator Clinton and every possible positive thing about OB! I trully believe that Senator Clinton has the most political Savvy and Know How then OB will ever have! Perhaps he needs to be her VP! He'll get the experience needed for his presidency run in 2012 or 2016! That's What I think!


Hypocrite! Where was he when all this started? After the deed is done, and the candidate they wanted from the very start is nominated?

Hilarry supporters have been calling for this outrage from the start, and they called us "delusional". NOW THEY WILL SUFFER the consequences of their act!

We all know there was collusion between the DNC, Obama and the press/media to prevent Hillary from Nomination.

Is the DNC having second thoughts, after Obama is looking less electable? After more revelations start coming out about him? There IS more to come believe me. The Republicans have more ammunication about Barack and Michelle.

Sorry Dean-o. Too little, too late. You and the DNC let this campaign get way out of hand with it's disgusting tactics against Senator Clinton. You, Nancy and Donna are in bed with Barack, and everybody can see. Thanks to your actions and your wonderfully groomed candidate, Barack (NOT!) and all his wonderful friends (Ayers, Wright, Pleiger, Rezko, Auchi, Odinga, Michelle), the Dems will go down in flames in the General Election.

Give us new Clinton-McCain Democrats a call if you change your mind. You'll like our enthusiasm, our loyalty and our cold hard cash donations if you do. Until then, bu' bye.

Help me out for a minute. I have a young daughter and if I get what your saying that I should teach hear the following.

Whenever your in a competition and you starting losing because of poor management and planning, blame it on sexism. That's an excellent lession.

It's great example to see the other side of the sexism cry because I've heard it from blacks as well. I'm black and this guy at work would alway cry racism. The fact that he didn't come to work on time and didn't give great effort never played a factor in his thinking.

This is realy sad. The Clinton should know better

Hillary Clinton lost the race not because she is a Clinton or because she is a woman. She lost the race because of her failed strategy and because she herself tried to use her gender to her advantage IE tears and because of her personal attacks and negative campaign rather than sticking to policy issues. If there is one thing I have learned in my 30 plus years in the work force is that screaming and yelling and throwing tantrums gets you know where, no one listens to the loud mouths. But they do listen to calm, logical honest discussions and debate backed up with hard work and facts not rumour, false accusations, and lies. If you want to win you must be seen as honest, having integrity, being able to get along with and influence people, being able to admit when you have made mistakes and as being able to consider all points of view. Yes she has been portrayed as strident, bullying, racist, playing the poor me card, and being intractable but she has provided her re tractors with the ammunition no one else did. I personally think that she has done harm to all women.

What specific examples of sexism can (did?) Dean and/or Ferraro cite as having hurt Clinton's campaign?

Look, I'm open-minded about it. And I did read a poll indicating that voters (said they) were a little more unwilling to vote for a woman than for a black person.

But how has that manifested itself, specifically, in the campaign? Is there any *evidence* (other than that poll)?

YES! Finally a leader in the DNC is able to admit that sexism has hurt the campaign of the first woman running for President. I'm sorry the obvious oppression took so long for SOMEONE to recognize but Bravo! for Dean for having the courage to speak the truth!

Oh, c'mon. Both Clinton and Obama were subjected to tons of horribly unfair coverage -- in her case, much of it playing on her gender and in his, much of it playing on his ethnicity. It's really not an either/or situation -- she had to put up with creeps like Chris Matthews and Matt Drudge, he with National Wright Month. The whole "Which is worse, racism or sexism" thing is a nice parlor game, but they're both pretty steep handicaps, and both candidates prevailed over them.

Clinton could not prevail over her own lousy strategy, the inflammatory remarks of her supporters which galvanized African-Americans (and many others), continuing resentment over her pro-war vote, her reliance on a narrow large donor base versus his armada of small contributors, etc. Perhaps Hillary supporters backing McCain can meditate on this when McCain's Supreme Court declares their daughters' uteruses state property.

Too little... too late.

I landed on this older post when I was trying to see where the heck Howard Dean is? He was in the news all the time with Kerry-Edwards and I have seen hide nor hair of him in this campaign.
Interesting post given the disgusting way the media treats Gov.Palin. I have never seen anything like the hatred and dirt being thrown 24/7 at her.
Even people I know who pay no attention to politics are shocked. Not good for the media in the long run. More distrust from your average viewer/reader.

I am interested in the topic of Sexism in the Media. I am a graduate student from NKU.EDU and attempting to compile a database based on a keyword word searches. I have not been able to solicit any support for my website or forum. I understand it is new and not very sophisticated. If anyone has any suggestions please contact me at: You can view my website at and my forum at: password politics. I would love to post this story on my blog and my website, if that would be OK? Thanks for the story it was great. Thanks again, K. F.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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