OK, The Media Hates Clinton-But Why?

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 21:58


Just as a similar report from the Shorenstein Center found in late October, a new study from Center for Media and Public Affairs finds that television news media reports more favorably on Barack Obama more than it does on Hillary Clinton:

On-air evaluations of Hillary Clinton were nearly 3 to 2 negative (42% positive vs. 58% negative comments), while evaluations of her closest competitor Barack Obama was better than 3 to 2 positive (61% positive vs. 39% negative). John Edwards attracted much less coverage, but his evaluations were 2 to 1 positive (67% positive vs. 33% negative). Sen. Clinton was evaluated more often than all her Democratic opponents combined.

The evidence that Clinton has faced a more difficult media gauntlet than Obama is mounting. Assuming for the moment that these studies are accurate, I have a simple question: why does the established media like Barack Obama more than they like Hillary Clinton? What is it about Obama that they like, which they also find lacking in Clinton?

I honestly can't figure this one out. Perhaps it is because of sexism, but the established media, especially the punditry within the established media, is just about the whitest profession in the country. Perhaps it is because of Obama's post-partisan, post-ideological talk, but remember that Hillary Clinton is a senior member of the established media's favorite political organization: the DLC. Both Clinton and Obama are from Illinois, they have voted about the same during their time in the Senate, and don't seem to scare the establishment much at all. Why then does Obama get more favorable coverage than Clinton?

There are only two theories that I find plausible. First, Clinton held large leads for several months in this campaign. As a result, both consciously and unconsciously, news outlets were waiting, hoping, and helping Clinton to stumble. Second, the Republican Noise Machine still exerts considerable influence over established, national news outlets, and the Noise Machine simply hates Clinton more than it hates Obama. Conservative activists have detested the Clintons so intensely and for so long that, that as a simple matter of emotional physics it is nearly impossible for them to hold the same level of disdain toward other Democrats. These things take time, and Obama just hasn't been around long enough yet in order to be declared the Anti-Christ.

Anyway, those are my theories. I'm very interested in hearing others.

Chris Bowers :: OK, The Media Hates Clinton-But Why?

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Sexism is much more acceptable (0.00 / 0)
http://echidneofthes... has written on the subject, but sexism is much more acceptable a topic than racism.

Obama has celebrated his black heritage and he doesn't get attacked over it, but hillary gets accused of playing the gender card.

That and Hillary is less sociable than Obama and Edwards.  Much like Dean she just isn't a natural at influencing a crowd.


Could it possibly (0.00 / 0)
be that they know her and all her cronies? And know what it is like to get an answer out of her and know that she will continue to shut them out? I do not think it is sexism at play here-could also be her inevitabily meme from the beginning.Just a thought.

[ Parent ]
I'll take a shot (4.00 / 4)
  Whatever one thinks of his issue positions, Obama is an extremely likable man, and as such media hatchet jobs on him just wouldn't have much credibility with the general public. Kind of the way George W. Bush got (and continues to get) buttkissing media coverage -- as horrible a person and president as he is, he does superficially project some sort of regular-guy likability, which of course fools our ever-gullible media. Obama's much more genuine than Bush in that regard, of course -- he has to be.

  Hillary Clinton has her virtues, but she doesn't obviously project that sort of likability, and given her other liabilities with the beltway elites (being the hated Bill Clinton's wife, not "knowing her place", being perceived as a liberal), she's easy for them to attack. And then there's the possibility that Hillary was "inevitable" all those months, which made her the obvious target for the corporate media to soften up. Now that Obama has a credible chance to win the nomination I expect coverage of him to get far more negative, as happened with Howard Dean in December 2003.

  What I CAN'T explain is how Hillary seems to think that the media's ever going to play fair with her. That Murdoch fundraiser didn't seem to do her much good, did it?

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


Because it's more interesting (4.00 / 1)
as a story. It's entertainment.

Re: Because it's more interesting (0.00 / 0)
Agreed. The "Clinton inevitability" storyline got stale long ago and the media has just been looking for something fresh.

The truth about Saxby Chambliss

[ Parent ]
It's ageism (0.00 / 0)
During 2004, the bigfoot media reporters tended to be universally in their late 20s or 30s.  This is a group that favors Obama by a big margin.  They are also comparatively wealthy and educated with enormous self expectations of stardom.  They may be on the verge of the upper class but this is a group that clearly identifies with the elite.  Thus bipartisanship plays really well with this crowd.

It may not show in the statistics but the pictures used of Hillary are just horrible.  She looks 20 years older than McCain.  The last President or presidential candidate to get such unflattering photo coverage was Richard Nixon at the end of his period in office.


And With Nixon, It Was Earned (4.00 / 1)
He really was a mess, physically by that time.

The press just didn't take any pains to hide it.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Good Theories, Here's A Third (4.00 / 5)
You touched on the themes--sexism and racism--but didn't put them together the way I would have. 

Clinton is hated for being a strong women (unadulterated sexism, as opposed to other First Ladies, who knew their place), while Obama is liked for being a compliant black who knows his place (remember how quickly and unequivocally he dismissed the question of reparations, for example?).

Now, I'm not saying that Obama is a total toady.  He's not.  But it's a relative thing.  The existence of blacks like Jesse Jackson (Sr and Jr), John Conyers, Maxine Waters, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, etc. all make Obama that more appealing to the punditalkcrazy and the Versailles media in general.  But on the female front, despite her considerable policy moderation, simply because she's not a shrinking violet, Hillar Clinton is the equivalent of Jesse Jackson (Sr and Jr), John Conyers, Maxine Waters, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, etc.  After all, she committed two cardinal sins: (1) She didn't fawn all over the DC Madams of the Sally Quinn persuasion, and (2) She didn't wither up and die in humiliation over the Lewinsky Affair.  Those aren't policy issues, but there you are.  That's how women are still judged.

In fact, the more I think about it, I don't even think that the Versailles media even knows who the female equivalents of those black leaders are--even though some of them are both black and female leaders.  Oh yes, and one of those female leaders also just so happens to be Speaker of the House.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


i think y'all need to get out of echo chamber (0.00 / 0)
its because its entertaining. all of these isms may fit into your world view but thatsnot what drive the media. sensation does. this is the equivalent to me of david becham or britney spears

[ Parent ]
To add: (0.00 / 0)
I also believe the coverage is in part racist, in portraying Obama as superhuman, which is fundamentally dehumanizing.  I am not an Obama supporter, but I do worry that they're setting him up for inevitable failure.  My God, the man is presented as the magical cure for all our social ills, especially racism.  Mark my words: When Obama fails the press and his supporters will feel *betrayed.*  That anger will be just as strong as the worship he enjoys today.

And I agree that the press also fancies Obama b/c he's so gosh darn gentle to the powers that be.  The only real fight he musters up for is against progressives.


[ Parent ]
For all Americans (0.00 / 0)
Barack Obama in his career and his campaign rhetoric has made it clear that he wants to be president for all Americans.  He is Americas first leader who happens to be black as opposed to a black leader.  Many of his supporters are for him regardless of his race or even despite it.

Hilary has made an issue of being the first woman candidate.  It is a regular part of her and her surrogates rhetoric.  She regularly talks about her work on woman's issues and children.  That and her time in the Senate are her strongest arguments for experience outside of her role as First Lady of Arkansas and the US.

No man today could run on men's issues and expect to be taken seriously as a candidate.  I do not believe that Hilary is misandronistic but she it is less clear if she really wants to be president of all Americans.  Red state residents may fear that she will neglect them the same way that Bush has neglected Blue states these seven painful years, and men may feel that Hilary is more interested in being the women's candidate that everyone's candidate.

I find your argument about knowing their place to be potentially offensive.  You are insulting a presidential candidate and our Speaker for not behaving as you would prefer that they would.  I think that a national leader has a responsibility to all of their citizens to represent all of them as equally as possibly.  I certainly hope that Nancy Pelosi knows her place as Speaker of the House and wields that power as effectively as she is able.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama


[ Parent ]
Knowing her place (4.00 / 2)
  It's not Paul who's making that argument. He's passing along the attitudes projected by the DC elites. And yes, it's offensive... but that's the beltway media for you.

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
The GOP: All About the Men (4.00 / 1)
"No man today could run on men's issues and expect to be taken seriously as a candidate."

What?  The right-wing movement is totally based on an idea of "masculinity" that is fundamentally bigoted (misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc.), authoritarian, and sadistic (see: justification of torture).  My God, this is the party that portrays those who believe women and girls are entitled to basic rights and civil liberties as "Nazis" and are not hesitant to proclaim there is a "War on Boys."

Oh, and check out Bush in his flightsuit and GOP hopefuls still stumbling around in hunting gear to appeal to "manly" men.


[ Parent ]
Geez, Dude! (4.00 / 2)
I find your argument about knowing their place to be potentially offensive.

I'm like, explaining their thinking.

Since when did I ever approve of anything they did?

Barack Obama in his career and his campaign rhetoric has made it clear that he wants to be president for all Americans.  He is Americas first leader who happens to be black as opposed to a black leader.

I'm sorry, but the sentence above in bold is just absurd.  I know it's become a commonplace--it's part of his buzz, don'tch know!--but just because everyone else is saying it doesn't make it any less absurd.  It's the sort of thing that folks 100 years from now will laugh over and just shake their heads.

Like all other black politicians except J.C. Watts and Colin Powell, Obama got his start because black people supported him, and thought he represented their interests.  And, also like all black politicians, he speaks in terms of universal principles, needs and aspirations, because that's what out-groups always do--fight back against the lies that they are somehow fundamentally different or other.

As for Clinton stressing being the woman's candidate, see my comments above.  One simply cannot treat race and gender as interchangable considerations.  It's both racist and sexist to do so.  Not to mention just plain stupid.  The Versailles media may be racist, but they take black politicians seriously--well, as seriously as they take anything, which admittedly is not much.  Women, on the other hand, are simply invisible to them.  And that's why a candidacy that's at least partly about visibility, "here I am, I am a woman running for President" is not in the least out of line as you seem to intimate.

After all, if male-dominated societies like India, Parkistan and Israel could have had female leaders decades ago, there obviously is something deeply screwed up about gender and politics here in the US.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Support (0.00 / 0)
Yes, Obama has received support from African Americans in Chicago, and probably would never have won his State Senate seat without their support.  His rise to the national stage was despite his race, not because of it.

His speech in 2002 against the war was about American issues of avoiding war, his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention was about American issues of unity, the issues he championed in Chicago and DC were progressive issues like campaign finance.  his support, especially early on for President was stronger amongst the youth than amongst African Americans.  When Barack Obama speaks, he is not trying to speak for any specific portion of the American Community.

That is why I describe him as an American leader who happens to be Black.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama


[ Parent ]
Ya Think? (0.00 / 0)
Yes, Obama has received support from African Americans in Chicago, and probably would never have won his State Senate seat without their support.

Maybe he could have been elected by a surge of returning gophers?

His rise to the national stage was despite his race, not because of it.

Proof, much?  Proof, any?

His speech in 2002 against the war was about American issues of avoiding war,

Which was always opposed overwhelmingly by blacks.

his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention was about American issues of unity,

A speech he was given to make in part because he was black.

The attempt to separate Obama from his racial identity is strange, to say the least.  The mirror image of attempts to bury Clinton in her gender identity.

"Zaphod Beeblebrox is jus' zis guy, you know?"

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
A matter of emphasis (0.00 / 0)
I agree that no one can escape the advantages or disadvantages of their background completely.  They do have a choice on how they attempt to use it and the extent to which they try to favor people of their own background over their other constituents.

A good example I would this is Barbara Boxer, the fact that she is Jewish is incidental to her political identity.  Her upbringing informs her politics, but it is not a large part of how she chooses to campaign.  Feingold is similar.  Other politicians like Lieberman or Feinstein make it a more central part of their political outreach.  There are consequences of each choice.  From what you have said I would guess that you favor Lieberman and Feinstein's choice over Boxer and Feingold's.

I think that your tone has denigrated Obama and Pelosi's choices regarding identity politics.  To some extent you point out the choices you feel are presented by the MSM, but you also offer a judgement.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama


[ Parent ]
You Are Soooo Wrong! (0.00 / 0)
Especially about Feinstein and Lieberman, both of whom I loathe.

I don't even know where to begin.

So I won't.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
That is why I used them as examples (0.00 / 0)
I am not fan of either Feinstein or Lieberman.  They do use being Jewish as part of their political identities, which is odd because I think that both of them are significantly further right than the average American Jew.

I think we have very different ideas of identity politics, how we perceive them being used and how we thing they should be used.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama


[ Parent ]
My Point Was That "Identity Politics" Is A VERY Broad Label (0.00 / 0)
And that the dynamics around race and gender are quite different from one another.

Rather than address that point, you ignore it and drag religion/nationality into the mix.

I conclude that you are interested in obfuscation, not clarification.

Inadvertantly, perhaps.  But there you are.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
How? (0.00 / 0)
Feinstein came from a mixed religion family and attended Catholic school as a child.  She identifies with being Jewish but is reportedly secular and non-observant.  I've been following her career ever since she was a city council member in San Francisco, and I'm not aware of Feinstein making being Jewish a central part of her poitical outreach (any more, for example, than Obama, Edwards, and Clinton make being Christian part of their political outreach).

Explain please.


[ Parent ]
You Mean You Didn't See The Menorah In Her Campaign Ads? (0.00 / 0)
Right there next to the dredle?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Um, Chris, when you say that they are the whitest profession (0.00 / 0)
in the country, so that means they may not be sexist, what do you mean by that?

The way it reads is that "white professionals are not sexist."  but as opposed to whom?  Perhaps you could look at that sentence again so people don't get the wrong idea that non-white porfessionals could be sexist.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.


I think he meant (0.00 / 0)
the established media punditry is more white-dominated than it is male-dominated.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
I actually DO think it is sexism. (4.00 / 3)
The Chris Matthews's of the world grew up in households where the fathers' opinion was gospel.  And the wife was there to agree...if she even had an opinion at all.

Those type of people do not like to hear women speak and they certainly do not like women "telling them what to do."  And they perceive Hillary as a GIANT "woman telling them [the country] what to do."

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.


Look at Hardball ... (0.00 / 0)
Tweety comes off as very msygonistic .. and professes his love for Rudy and Frederick of Hollywood

[ Parent ]
Look at Hardball ... (0.00 / 0)
Tweety comes off as very msygonistic .. and professes his love for Rudy and Frederick of Hollywood

[ Parent ]
national trends (0.00 / 0)
I think that it is both a cause and effect of the national approval numbers of those three candidates.  Hilary's approval ratings aren't very good therefore there are likely to be a number of Reporters who disapprove of her.

She also has a history of treating reporters poorly including some early Clinton the first era issues with press access as well as on the campaign trail this time around.  I'm not going to hunt up the link but reporters have written about how Hilary doesn't make their life easier by providing interviews and little things like a campaign bus.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama


I have no hard data on this (0.00 / 0)
but maybe she's just not very nice to them? I recall reading that back in 2000, Gore started out pretty indifferent towards the press, while Bush charmed them, and -- vindictive and petty as the press is -- it haunted him for the rest of the campaign.

If you've read alot .. (0.00 / 0)
you know that Boosh & Co. put out a big food spread and all that ... on the plane ... while Gore didn't

[ Parent ]
yeah that was in the pelosi doc (0.00 / 0)
bush's brain-- she says that this was a mistake for both in 2000 and 2004. i think we make a mistake to judge everything through lenses by which we judge things. sometimes its a simple as they don't like you or they find it mor enetertaining.

[ Parent ]
Go Read The Daily Howler (4.00 / 1)
The press hated Gore even before the campaign began.  They made up lies about him and repeated them endlessly. It went far beyond anything press relations could account for.

Basically, they hated him for not turning on Clinton.  And, of course, if he had turned on Clinton, well, how could you approve of someone with no sense of loyalty?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I'm surprised you even need to ask (0.00 / 0)
It's obviously her laugh.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

Why does Clinton get better coverage than McCain? (4.00 / 1)
According to the CMPA study Hillary Clinton gets better coverage than McCain so that seems to correct for pure ageism (there may be a separate strain of ageism w/women). Clinton gets better coverage than Giuliani and McCain so it's not a simple 'The media loves Obama' construct. There is a continuum of coverage with Edwards at the extreme end of positive and McCain at the extreme low end of negative according to this study.

That CMPA press release was misleading in that it led with Obama getting better coverage and the study itself shows Edwards got more positive (but less) coverage and the study highlighted the how issues focused the coverage has been while the data shows just 28% of coverage is issues/policy focused. Among the subset of coverage that is on policy illegal immigration is #1, ahead of Iraq. Nice job media!

Note: The CMPA study is only evening news broadcasts from the networks and Fox, no? That seems like an odd choice to exclude CNN and MSNBC but what do I know.

John McCain


Clinton coverage (4.00 / 1)
Clinton had the most positive coverage of all candidates up till the end of October's debate in Philadelphia.

The media glowed about her as a candidate and that her campaign made no mistakes. She also dominated the media regarding campaign coverage.

That changed after the Philadelphia debate.


[ Parent ]
CMPA Has A Long History Of Skewed Reports (4.00 / 2)
Back in the early 90s, for example, they did a report on PBS which found all sorts of liberal bias, including terrible things said about racism in America.

Except it was a report that didn't include programs like Wall Street Week or the Nightly Business Report,  It was, in fact, a survey of PBS documentaries, and the terrible things said about racism in America were from documentaries dealing with the Civil Rights Movement.

As least the CMPA staffer I interviewed in response had the decency to admit to the specific problems I brought up.

The Washington Post, which made me do the interview in the first place, to provide "balance" to my submitted op-ed (yes, the Post wanted me to "balance" my own views in an op-ed!) did not have quite that much integrity.  They apparently were disappointed that I managed to get someone with an opposing view to basically concede my points, and so they killed the piece after I jumped through all their hoops for them.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Why assume one reason (4.00 / 1)
We have:
sexism, a long history of crap stories resulting in extreme caution, the theory that Hillary would be the most difficult to beat (The Rove theory), right wing hate speak, the Washington matron scene.

Neo-Liberals (4.00 / 1)
I think at heart the media is neo-liberal not liberal, they could give a crap about the poor but are culturally liberal.  And DLC aside, they perceive Obama as the Bradley/Stevenson style goo-goo neo-liberal, which the media always loves.  Bradley got much more favorable coverage than Gore, for example.

Clinton is perceived as a partisan Democrat, something the Broderite media abhors. 


Obama is more likable (0.00 / 0)
The press likes him more. Maybe he is nicer to the press than she is or maybe he is just a nicer guy than she is. Or maybe he is just a nice guy period.

Read this--the reporter seriously seems to like him:

http://sportsillustr...


My theories (0.00 / 0)
Hillary could be old news.  They've been covering her since 1991, and when Obama comes along, it's something new and fresh.  To go with that, Hillary hasn't been known for her friendliness toward the press.  If you're cold to the press, that tends to have a negative influence on the stories they write about you.

I honestly don't think it's sexism.  The press seems to treat Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Condoleeza Rice, whoever, with none of the negativity that Hillary gets.

I think it's a combination of Clinton being old news, not very likable, and having a sour relationship with the press.


media elites (4.00 / 2)
Sexism and racism may play a part, but the underlying dynamic is plain old elitism going after its longtime target: Democratic leaders. This is no different from the story of the Carter, Clinton or Gore runs. The media elites hype a 'more appealing, authentic' figure who somehow doesn't appeal to the Democratic rank and file. If we are honest we can see a similar dynamic playing out in left blogistan, and for the first time in a long time there are two candidates on the Republican side, Huckabee and Paul, subject to similar elitist attacks.

Should a Democrat without credibility among the base win then the media will follow the Republican lead (Drudge rules their world), donning their 'regular guy' persona, to characterize him as 'out of touch' and will endlessly play clips of him windsurfing or some such.


Elitism (0.00 / 0)
With the exception of early Virginians who went to William and Mary (Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Tyler) only four Presidents went to state schools as opposed to private schools: Jerry Ford (Michigan, Yale Law), LBJ (San Marcos State Teachers College now Southwest Texas State), Benjamin Harrison (Miami of Ohio), and James Knox Polk (University of North Carolina).  They were elected to a grand total of three terms.

In recent years, the last five Presidential elections were won by candidates with a degree from Yale. 


[ Parent ]
She's a perfect storm (0.00 / 0)
Hillary Clinton ia a confluence of hot buttons.  She was part of the team of the first boomers to be elected, and, unlike Bush (also a boomer, who has carefully crafted an alternative scenario) represented the change that boomers made  in the culture. This web site has had some really good postings on the DFH syndrome.

She was 1/2 of the team to bear the first wrath of the fully mature noise machine, long before it could even be identified as such.  The influence of phone calls/threats to managing editors who were on not being sufficiently hard on the Clintons should not be minimized.  This had an effect of the reporter in the field ... they knew how to get the column inches that make for a good career.  This dynamic is now entrenched.

Next, she is a woman.  Women are judged on more superficial things than men and the media is very good at superficial things.  We've already seen major newspapers front page stories on clothing and speculation about her marriage.  They will go at her for being tough, and being too soft, and find these characteristics where they don't exist. 

Add all this together... you have the perfect storm.


The evidence that Paul Rosenberg (0.00 / 0)
thinks Obama is an Uncle Tom is mounting.

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