May 20th, 2008
06:55 PM ET
10 years ago

Clinton chastises press for ignoring sexism

Clinton said sexism has played a large role in the campaign.

Clinton said sexism has played a large role in the campaign.

(CNN) - In her most wide-ranging comments to date on the role gender has played in the Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton said sexist attacks on her campaign have been "deeply offensive," and sharply criticized the press for not raising the issue.

"There should be equal treatment of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head," Clinton told the Washington Post in an article published in the paper's Tuesday edition. "It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists."

"…I believe this campaign has been a groundbreaker in a lot of ways. But it certainly has been challenging given some of the attitudes in the press."

Listen to excerpts from the Clinton interview.

Clinton, who is banking on a large win in Kentucky Tuesday to keep her presidential hopes alive, also said she doesn't believe racism has played a role in the presidential campaign. But the New York senator said sexist attitudes among voters and members of the media have been a constant detriment to her White House hopes.

Speaking with supporters on a Friday conference call, Clinton said she regretted that many of them have faced sexist attacks.

"I deeply regret the vitriol and the mean-spiritedness and the terrible insults and rhetoric that has been thrown around at you for supporting me, at women in general, at many of those who support my campaign because of who they are and their stand based on principle," she said. "I don't have time for their insults, I'm impervious to them."

Some of those supporters are taking up Clinton’s complaint. Several pro-Clinton and women’s groups are holding rallies Tuesday in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Michigan, and outside network studios in Burbank, California.

“If you want to have your voice heard saying, ‘enough is enough!’ then please join us in support of all American women who refuse to be diminished in the American Press,” says Professionals for Hillary in a statement e-mailed to supporters and posted on the group’s Web site.

“We need your support at these rallies to show America that women are not putting up with this anymore! Please send this information to all your Hillary friends and family. Bring your Hillary signs. We need to send a strong message to the media and the Democratic Party that says, ‘not so fast!’”

In an interview with the New York Times over the weekend, 1984 Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro – who supports Clinton - said she may not vote for Barack Obama if he is the party's nominee and said he has acted "terribly sexist."

Speaking on NBC's Today Show Tuesday, Ferraro also said, sexism was "rampant" in this year's presidential campaign. "There is a real difference in this country. It is not okay to be racist. It is just not. It is almost acceptable to be sexist," said Ferraro.

Ferraro has not shied away from discussing the impact of race and gender throughout the Democratic presidential campaign. In March, the former congresswoman told a California newspaper the chief reason Obama's candidacy was successful was because he was black. She maintained her comments were not racist, but ultimately resigned her finance post from the Clinton campaign after they caused an uproar.

Speaking with NBC Tuesday, Ferraro pointed to New Hampshire Clinton rally during which a man in the audience displayed a sign saying "Iron my shirt."

"Suppose somebody at that Barack Obama rally said 'Shine my shoes,'" Ferraro said. “The person would have been swamped by the media saying, ‘what, are you a racist?’ Hillary barely saw press on this. It is not only the Obama campaign. It is how the press has handled this."

soundoff (638 Responses)
  1. nic, bellingham wa

    A bias against Hillary could result from a number of factors – disdain for American oligarchy, a yearn for real change, distrust, etc.
    It's not always sexism...and crying wolf without being more specific than general "sexism" damages her already-flimsy credibility.

    I can't wait till this thing is over, all the angry Hillary supporters can vote against everything she stands for, paving the way for the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and ensuring another decade of war (at least).

    Americans seem to live & die by their knee-jerk emotional reactions to incomplete news's a shame...and has contributed greatly to the erosion of our democracy. And to think...we were once the greatest nation on earth..

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. SusanDemforLife

    She is just trying to win the women's vote in Kentucky whatever way she can... Another dirty trick, whatelse can you expect from her. She has said she will win at any cost and she meant it! I have no respect for this woman and thinks she has put feminism back 20 years not forward. She says she is tough but she isn't. Her husband says everyone is ganging up one her, then she screaming at Barack for not being tought enough. She is full of lies and mixed messages and frankly don't know what to expect from her one minute to the next. I just know as a woman, I don't trust her! I can smell crap a mile away, and she stinks! She destroyed herself and has noone but herself to blame if she is not nominated, just like Barack does. I bet if he loses the nomination he won't be whining that the media or Clinton was too hard on him..

    Toughen up Clinton if this is really the field you want to be in or go home and find another field that suits your personality.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Not Gloria Steinham

    Baloney and pathetic Hillary. You blew it.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. X

    I don't see how anyone can deny the rampant sexist comments that have come out during this election. I can't count how many times I've heard people say that Hillary "is a man", that she has balls or a big dick tucked under her skirt. Why? Because she's aggressive. Without that she would have never made it to where she is. But obviously a lot of people don't believe that "real women" have the characteristics necessary to get to a level of power. Only men do? Give me a break.

    and yes, the media does lay off Obama a lot because he is black. Just a week ago I read an article right here, on, that essentially said that people should vote for him because he is black. How about looking at the real issues for once, instead of all this? Every single one of the comments before mine have been mud-slinging remarks by people who have absolutely no idea what the actual issues are. You all disgust me.

    I don't believe Obama is sexist any more than I believe Clinton is racist. But a lot of his supporters sure are.

    (by the way, I am no more white than Obama, so you can keep your "racist" comments to yourself.)

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. Gina - Lancaster, PA

    OK, let me get this straight...

    So the sexism towards her has been "deeply offensive", but racism hasn't been a part of the campaign?


    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Tony

    Even if there is sexism, the simple fact is men and women are about equal percentage wise in voting and in life. As for racism, Obama has a much smaller percentage in black voters to combat it.

    Women get to vote for Hillary if they choose, they comprise half the population...... yet again another argument that doesn't work.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. Dan

    She says it as thought there is no racism that Obama encounters on his campaign trail.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Judi - Los Angeles

    Oh Please, Hillary! Do try to keep a morsel of dignity as you slither out of Hillaryville and come to terms with reality. Sexism? Really!! Maybe you could squeeze out a few tears while you're at it. As a woman the same as you are, be proud of what you have accomplished to date! Please don't diminish yourself and ALL WOMEN by whining about how SEXISM cost you the election, for crying out loud!

    Be brave, Hillary...Make us all proud by going out a fighter instead of a sniffling little school girl saying, "It's NOT FAIR! You can do it, I know you can!

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Ed

    Hillary is blaming everything and everyone for losing this race. She has run this campaign with an arrogant attitude as though the white house belongs to her. The reality is that she was outsmarted in every respect. If she’s going to run the white house the way she ran her campaign well it’s a good thing she came in second.
    Sir Bush had the white house for eight years and then the son had it for eight years; do you see where it got us.
    Bill Clinton had the white house for eight years and now his wife wants it for eight years. There is NO way I want to see that. Remember what Bill did while in the white house. It’s time to turn a new page. The longer Hillary stays in the race the more I lose respect for her.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. kj

    Women were the LAST to get the right to vote without regard to race. That women do not equate their vote with their earning potetial is sadly and economically ignorant. Your husbands, children, and you suffer because you will not stand up and say enough is enough! This was our time–and you've squandered it by believing the the media. Women should stop trying to be like men...we naturally use both side of our brains at the same time to process information thus ensuring the survival of our offspring. Lets take credit for that, and take it to it's logical conclusion–Women are better suited to manage government.

    A Real Change will be A Woman President!

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. broadstreet buddy

    She complaining of sexism but gives no examples of it? Is that like crying wolf?

    I have followed this campaign pretty closely and I have yet to see anyone of any prominence denounce or criticize Clinton for being a woman. No one has yet said she is unfit to lead because she is a female. However, many people of notoriety, especially in Clinton's camp have leveled claims of Obama's electability based on race.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Democrat in the WH

    There has been sexism in the campaign, but there's been racism too. By saying that there's one and not the other, she's once again being divisive.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Garth

    Barack Obama is a one of kind. Hillary has so much baggage with her. If a real electable woman were running, I think it wouldn't be a contest. Hillary isn't electable. She is probably hated by more people than Barack's race is hated by racists.

    This isn't about sexism, it's about Hillaryism. I don't like Hillary, but would love to see a woman in the White House.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. working girl

    Let's try this again CNN:

    The Obama campaign volunteers receive bomb threats on an almost daily basis. They have doors slammed in their faces by people with pre-civil-rights Jim Crow attitudes. They are told that Hillary has the "white vote" by the candidate herself, but there is no racism!! This while Senator Obama calmly thanks his volunteers and reminds them that this is not the general feeling in America.

    Meanwhile no one on Clinton's volunteer staff has complained of ANY sexist attitudes, yet she screams foul to the entire world, calls every outlet of media she can think of to decry this injustice, and blame them for being biased. She has her supporters organizing rallies that will do little more than further divide the party at teh eleventh hour.

    Will this woman ever stop?? She makes me so ashamed of my gender

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  15. Dennis

    I agree that there has been some sexism, however, for Senator Clinton to deny racism has played any part in the campaigns is incredibly dishonest and self-serving.

    Personally, I think both issues have been overblown by both camps in an attempt to garner votes.

    I remember vividly the accusations Clinton's supporters use to throw at Obama if he complained about some of his coverage. They all use to shout, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!" Now, the shoe is on the other foot. However, it is apparently okay for her to complain. Why is that?

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. JV

    People should refer to Carole Simpson who on one of the national news programs made a statement to the effect that white people when they get in that voting booth will never pull the lever for the black know she is going to be right.

    Racism, sexism very much alive in this country just read the comments that the American people leave in these postings on a daily basis......pretty sad what we have become.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. How about some PROOF?

    I keep hearing all over the place about the supposed sexism in this race and in the coverage of the race. Except for the bozos holding "Iron my shirt" signs - not worse than the Obama-Curious George t-shirts that the Obama camp never made an issue of –, I have not heard of a single specific example. I am a 45-year old woman, and have experience much sexism in my life, and I know it when I see/hear it. I think this is just a desperate attempt by Hillary to touch a nerve with her core supporters - actually, pretty cynical and sexist in and of itself - to stir up controversy and cast doubt over the legitimacy of this election. If the media and public aren't taking you seriously, Hillary, it's because of intelligence-insulting stunts like this.

    May 20, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  18. Mary WA

    This is beyond the pale, even for Clinton! Misogynist is a word that you don't through around. It means THE HATRED OF WOMEN. To state that people hate all women because they don't support her is deeply disturbing and insulting. The media has been more than fair. I was at the Rally in Portland this weekend and saw many Clinton supporters with sighs calling us misogynists if we didn't vote for her. No true feminist would stand gor this SEXIST B.S. I have lost all respect full this women. She is a DISGRACE to women and especially feminists.

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. Tom Hopkin

    What will she complain about next???

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Judy

    Hey Proud in WV-Maybe you should look up the word and you'd know how to spell it correctly.

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. Muss

    Clinton had a real chance to denounce Ferraro's dumb statement and show her mature attitude toward the race and reuniting the party. Instead she has jumped on yet another bandwagon – she's an opportunist to the end and it is pathetic. I find it interesting that she hasn't touched this subject for weeks or months until the windbag former VP candidate raises it and it gets more than 30 secs of press, so she picks it up, and the subtext is "please keep covering my campaign, I'm still newsworthy."

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. bond

    No one is ignoring sexism, they're just ignoring you Billary

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Pat

    You, madam, played a central role in you own political demise!!!

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. NowOrNever

    Is this a new strategy? Gosh, I hope she unites with Obama real soon. We have to begin getting ready for November!!!! Yea Dems!!!! Obama 08

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. The Lady

    Two more weeks and the show is over.

    May 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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