Saturday, August 1, 2009

Excuse Me Dana Milbank, Your Sexism Is Showing (Again)

In an apparent effort at humor, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has suggested that if Hillary Clinton had attended the recent Gates/Crowley "summit" at the White House, she would have ordered "Mad Bitch" beer. Milbank and Chris Cillizza, another Washington Post writer, lampooned the summit in their video "Mouthpiece Theatre," which jokingly described the meeting as the "Ménage à Stella Artois."

The Washington Post placed the video on its website but took it down following criticism from liberal bloggers (e.g., TPM) and from media watchdogs (e.g., Megan Garber's essay in the Columbia Journalism Review). Several blogs linked to a Youtube source for the video, but the user who submitted the file subsequently removed it. Dissenting Justice, however, has located the video from another source (see below).

Milbank, Sexism, Hillary Clinton and the Media
Normally, outlandish -- even sexist and racist -- "humor" does not exercise me. I have turned off my television, radio and exited many websites to escape humor that taps into gutter instincts. I even argued that the heated reaction to Don Imus and his racist and sexist commentary was overblown. But Milbank and Cillizza occupy a different position than Imus. They are not shock jocks. Instead, they are writers for one of the world's most esteemed newspapers, and people rely upon them and the Washington Post for political analysis. Accordingly, their sexist humor means a lot more than the rants of Don Imus.

Moreover, this recent flap seems to confirm observations of many commentators (myself included) who argued that the media, particularly male journalists, portrayed Clinton in sexist terms during her unsuccessful presidential campaign. In a May 2008 column, Milbank himself portrayed Clinton as a demented and masochistic individual because she remained a candidate in the extremely tight race -- even though the odds of her winning were evaporating. Male candidates, by contrast, have remained in presidential primaries without winning any states whatsoever, but their continued candidacy never resulted in such hysteria and criticism as Clinton's decision to keep going.

Recently, Milbank employed the "dumb Latina" stereotype that became pervasive in the analysis of many male commentators regarding Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Milbank says that by choosing Sotomayor, President Obama "opted for biography over brain," and he concludes that she could not compete intellectually with other candidates. Milbank, however, offers no evidence for his conclusion.

Despite his harsh criticism of Clinton and almost unwavering support for Obama during the Democratic primaries, Milbank wrote Clinton "A Thank-You for 18 Million Cracks in the Glass Ceiling," a reference to a famed statement from her concession speech. Ironically, Milbank (and other liberal male media figures, like Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews) benefits from this glass ceiling, and his sexist commentary certainly does not help to dismantle it.

Media Matters has the video footage, which I have embedded.

[Note: The video condemns a slew of other individuals, including many Republicans.]


Nell said...

Misogyny--the world's oldest and most accepted prejudice. Eve, original sin, fall of man--blame it all on the seductive, wily, manipulative (yet all the while gullible and stupid) woman.

Women's relative place in society has waxed and waned through the ages, reaching its lowest points as backlash during those times immediately following women's greatest gains.

It is no wonder, then, that following an election year when two women came close to attaining the highest offices in the land, we've tapped the mother lode (pun intended) of misogynistic backlashes.

I've spent the past couple of months reading and (in some cases rereading) some old feminist theory favorites. starting with Simone de Beauvoir's classic "The Second Sex." Right now, I'm reading "When God Was a Woman" by Merlin Stone. I find them, by turns, comforting and infuriating. Darren, when the book you mentioned in the previous thread is published, I hope you will post it here.

Oh, and would someone like to comment as to why the only player who actually performed admirably in the Gates/Crowley fiasco, that is the woman who did her civic duty by calling 911 to report a possible burglary in progress but has been vilified as a racist, was not invited to the all-male bonding beer bash? But all is well, doncha know, because Gates sent her flowers yesterday. Did Obama also send her a note (addressed to "Sweetie," no doubt)? Bet the boyz all chugged their beer to the tune of "99 Problems But a B*itch Ain't One"? all the while scratching their cheeks with their middle fingers telling the lady they would have invited her if only she'd been likable enough and didn't bring them "periodically" down.

Aw, what the hell--it's all so much lipstick on a pig, right??

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Well said Nell. Although I completely disagree with Palin's politics, I have defended her several times against liberal sexism.

Nell said...

I disagree with Palin's politics, too, Darren, but the level of attacks against her are out of all proportion to her political positions. From everything I've read and heard her say, she is no further to the right than most run-of-the-mill conservative Republicans.

Pornographic videos, blow-up sex dolls, "Palin is a C**t" tee-shirts (saw those with my own eyes in our local suburban mall), her image hung in effigy, depictions of her being raped -- can only be explained by the deeply imbedded misogyny rampant in our culture.

I find it telling that even the profoundly disturbing attacks against her children were all directed at her daughters and her disabled infant son, never a word against the eldest son, the soldier/warrior fighting in Iraq, even though he too is the spawn of the Palin she-devil.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nell: Goodness, you are agitated. Here, sit down, have a beer, relax, calm yourself from the horrors you are facing. Try a Moosehead which will not only soothe you, but reinforce all those lovely liberal notions that keep the world at bay except when your liberal friends call you a racist for insufficent groveling to The One as they did in the recent election...

Next, why wasn't the woman who called 911 invited to the beer bash? Good God. Are you, a woman, so representatives of your sex's insecurities that you think such an invitation was an honor? Hahahahaha! This bash was merely the exploitation of Crowley, a man proved to be deficient in judgment. As for having a broad at the orgies, one was there What did Elizabeth Gates, that fine product of affirmative action have to say about the orgies? This:

"As our family rounded the corner to the White House library and I first caught sight of Sgt. Crowley’s lovely daughter [who is 14 and does not have a staff writer's position on Tina Brown's DAILY BEAST --GK]; she was wearing an appropriately heavy and charmingly untrained amount of green eyeliner on her lower lashes, and I saw my former self in her."

Nell, what would you say if a man, the embodiment of all evil, had written that? Nell? Nell? ...Ah, the Moosehead and an example of women's inhumanity to women has put her soundly asleep, at peace, secure in the knowledge that all is Left with the world. Too bad. I would have liked to ask her what she thinks of the male versus female unemployment rates, which show men, as a class, are taking a far heavier hit than women. Look, Nell's smiling while she sleeps! Should I tell her that The One has skewed stimulus money to go to women instead of men? Goodness, I didn't think it possible for a sleeping woman to laugh that hard and still stay asleep. What a great dream she's having. The men are finally getting kicked after all these centuries of patriarchy! Let revenge flow!

As for Sarah Palin: is it significant that all the savage personal attacks are coming from the Left? Implying that the Left is just as infected by "the culture" as the Right is? Implying that being on the Left is no protection from bigotry?

Ah, you've awakened. Refreshed, I hope, and ready to tackle these questions.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Hutchinson: Really, your sudden annoyance at Dana Milbank is too funny. Milbank has always been this way. It's just that he usually bashes Republicans like Dick Cheney after Cheney accidentally shot a friend.

This brings up a larger point. Given that lying in the cause of the greater liberal good is a journalistic staple these days, doesn't it follow that the press was merely doing its duty when it cannonaded Hillary Rodham (no mean liar herself) in the 2008 primaries? Weren't they "making a difference" the way journalists are supposed to on The Road to the Left Utopia? Wasn't the great lesson of 2008 that black trumps female? No? You write:

"Male candidates, by contrast, have remained in presidential primaries without winning any states whatsoever, but their continued candidacy never resulted in such hysteria and criticism as Clinton's decision to keep going."

This is spectacularly obtuse. The male candidates weren't savaged to this degree because none of them were a real threat to The One. You are also forgetting that there's no such thing as bigotry on the Left. Bigotry is exclusively on the Right, as billions of Ivy League professors will tell you.

This is a parlous place you are treading. Next you will be saying, with Martin King:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Good heavens. What will happen to Critical Race Theory on that horrific day?

SS has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, complete with one GOP senator(Lindsey Graham) voting for her in the hopes that everyone will think he's marching for social justice. He, like Robert Packwood, will find out differently when he tries to cash the chit he thinks he has. SS is on course for the James Clark McReynolds robes, unless the other chunk of debris that bashed Jupiter last week bashes Terra. So, here's my request:

You've long held that RICCI should not sink SS, that SS should be judged by her entire 17 years as a federal trial and appellate judge. There's much to that. But it's impractical for the laity, of whom I am one, to read all her opinions. So tell us: what opinions (or law review articles) has SS written that make you think Hey, she can do the job, maybe even superbly. I promise to read cases, and will do my damnedest to lay hands on law reviews.

Which reminds me: I ask once again that you put a list (or link to) of your law review articles here on DJ so your readers can examine them and get a better notion of where you are coming from.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Nell: Very good points!

Greg: Apparently, the only discrimination you've acknowledged on this blog was against the Ricci plaintiffs. Now you are trying to erase sexism - because Milbank has gone after conservatives and because Clinton ran against Obama. None of these things negates the operation of sexism.

Stray Yellar Dawg? said...

Dr. Hutchinson,

You have hit upon an oft missed point. Yes... it *is* more offensive when Milbank uses a sexist or racist slur than when Imus does. Because of the two men's positions within the media structure. And, because Milbank is presumed to me "Progressive."

I will never forget what happened to Hillary, or Sarah, at the hands of so called "Progressive" men last year.

Had I heard the same words out of Imus or Limbaugh... I'd have shrugged them off. But... hearing them from the likes of Milbank is just too much.

A shock-jock is one thing. But, a professional journalist is another. I had, at one time, expected more of the latter. No more.


Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hello, Stray. That is the most important distinction to me. It is difficult to view Milbank as unbiased when he says things like this. The fact that he helped craft the anti-Hillary narrative last year as an "objective" journalist makes his recent language even more disturbing.

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