In 1992, the feminists in the media rejoiced at what they called “The Year of the Woman,” when ten Democratic women (and one Republican) were running for the Senate in the aftermath of Anita Hill’s unproven sexual-harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas. Just two years before, seven Republican women (and two Democrats) ran. But the media yawned.
In 1992, the evening newscasts aired 29 stories exclusively devoted to women Senate candidates. In 1990, there was one…on election night. In 1992, the morning shows interviewed women Senate candidates on 26 occasions. In 1990, there were zero interviews.
This was all about the party affiliation. When the liberals Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein both won primary elections from the U.S. Senate in California in 1992, Time reporter Margaret Carlson almost levitated in ecstasy. “There was a rush, an exultation, that surpassed any political moment I have ever known — better even than Geraldine Ferraro’s vice-presidential candidacy.”
The primary elections on June 8 brought this memory rushing back. Republican women won gubernatorial primaries in South Carolina and New Mexico. The national media had plenty to say about Nikki Haley of South Carolina before the election, which is to say they had an endless regurgitation of unproven adultery charges to level against her.
One low point came from former Clinton bimbo-crusher George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” asking Nikki Haley on the morning after her victory about how she’s somehow embarrassing her state by being accused without proof: “Do you expect more incoming during the runoff?” And: “Can you assure South Carolina voters that they’re not going to be embarrassed if they elect you?”
Stephanopoulos, like many good Clintonistas, is incapable of embarrassment over his hypocrisy.
Susana Martinez, winner of her gubernatorial primary in New Mexico, has another complaint. One gathers New Mexico is too far away from the East Coast for the media to notice. She’s been utterly ignored.
Then there are the two female business leaders who won their GOP primaries in California, one for the Senate and the other for governor. On ABC, Stephanopoulos demeaned their business credentials of as a minus, not a plus, because of the oil spill. “Meg Whitman, head of eBay. Carly Fiorina ran Hewlett- Packard. There’s some controversy there.”
Stephanopoulos had invited on the perpetually annoying British import Tina Brown, who complained “it almost feels as if all these women winning are kind of a blow to feminism. Because, each one of them, really, most of them, are, you know, very much, you know, against so many of things that women have fought for such a long time.”
George Stephanopoulos invited no Republican guests on this occasion, so he attempted a mild rebuttal to Brown: “Well, you could argue they’re different kinds of feminists. They’ve had a lot of success in different fields.” Brown snapped back: “Women, too, can be wingnuts, is the point.” It’s bizarre that Brown is so blind that she doesn’t think you could call Barbara Boxer or her beloved Hillary Clinton a “wingnut,” only the conservative or Republican women.
Several networks found “news” and some kind of national controversy in Fiorina mocking Sen. Boxer’s hairdo as “so yesterday” when she was wearing an open microphone off-camera. Stephanopoulos gave it a whole story when he moonlighted as evening anchorman on “World News.” NBC’s “Today” led off the show with this nothing-burger and mentioned it three times. Co-host Hoda Kotb touted it as a “big gaffe-a-rooney.”
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift insisted Fiorina was wrong about just who was “so yesterday” in politics. “And these two Republican women are also social conservatives in a state that’s very pro-choice. So maybe those issues will be cast as ‘so yesterday.’” Eleanor’s wishful thinking had to be corrected by Monica Crowley, who informed her that Whitman favors abortion.
That’s not as bad as Jerry Brown accusing Whitman in advance of tarring him in her ads: “It’s like Goebbels. Goebbels invented this kind of propaganda. He took control of the whole world. She wants to be president. That’s her ambition, the first woman president. That’s what this is all about.”
Amount of network outrage? Zip. The only network mention came from ABC’s Jake Tapper on “This Week,” and even he said “regardless of the tastelessness, Jerry Brown has a point…that she has a lot of money.” The media can disregard a lot of tastelessness when the women who are smeared are Republicans.