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. Mag. art. John Chacko Pallikunnel M.A. Fine Painting Mural Design

    Bill Clinton made Hilary Clinton to sacrifice her career as US President not the Press or Medias!

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Ron, LV

    Just what has been sexist? Because you are a woman people are not allowed to point out mistakes, miss-statements and the like? I would say the media has been more than fair to Clinton. I would like to see one example of sexism that has gone on? Maybe its sexist to say that woman support HIllary more than Obama. Give me a break.

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Independent99999

    Yesterday, it was Karl Rove. Today – it is Sexist Media. A few days back – He's Black and you know he is unelectable.

    Does Hillary have any SHAME left .. If I were her, I would have committed suicide by now rather than living with such background.

    Examples of IMMORALS equals CLINTONS in my book

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. CB

    There was a certain amount of sexism in the Democratic presidential campaign. But there was some racism, too.

    But it is shameless for Mrs. Clinton to complain about it. For one,
    she is married to an individual who by her own definition would be a sexist.

    For another, the sexism issue cuts both ways: Clinton knows full well that Mr. Obama cannot really attack her as hard as he would attack a man. It would turn a lot of people off. Yet she has no problem hitting him full blast with questionably race baiting rhetoric.

    Clinton reminds me of the girls in Kindergarten. They know you cannot hit them back, but they will slug you as hard as they can when no one is looking because you cannot really defend yourself.

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Ed from Milwaukee(WI-Swing state)

    Well now we see the women in her, complaining about sexiest comments and other nonsense. Is she taking notes from Geraldine Ferraro? My guess would be she looked into the Karl Rove playbook again!

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. bernj

    Everytime I try to think something positive about Hillary she goes and says something stupid......or racist......or ignorant......or dumb.....or pandering.......or just plain untrue.

    GO HOME is over.

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. bill from pa

    People of the United States aren't sexist. They just don't like YOU or your husband. Now please go away.

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. Tired of W, OH

    Please, Hillary. You were so close to bowing out gracefully, and now this. The only example of sexism that you and Ferraro can come up with is one moron with a sign in New Hampshire? But there was no racism?!? Really?!?

    I started out as a Hillary supporter and was very much looking forward to having a woman for president. It's past due, IMO. As the issues came out and Hillary's campaign sunk to new lows every week, I found myself favoring Obama. Now that I've switched, am I sexist, too?!? Accept some blame and stop sabotaging your party.

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. LB

    As a women, what I read between the lines is that Hillary is the one trying to play the gender card. Oh, please vote for the little old lady. It is an obligation for women to vote for me since I'm a women too. NOT! Hillary will try every trick in the book including cheating to get the nomination.

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. John in PA

    Obamabots – stop the piling on already. You truly show your juvenile side which shows poorly for the Democratic Party. Remember, 17 Million people voted for Hillary, or about exaclty as many as voted for BHO. If a majority of us defect, McCain is your next President. You give us every reason to not support BHO. In fact, I believe I will write in Hillary's name in November. That way, at least I won't be forced to vote for McCain.

    May 20, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Dave

    I agree for any Jane... but you're Hillary CLINTON. You should have had this locked.
    Don't blame the media, Obama folks, or anyone but yourself for losing.

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. DAVID


    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. anonymous

    I am tired of this. If you support Obama, you're sexist. If you support Hillary, you're racist. Which one would you rather be?

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Now watch the media fall all over itself to show how sexist its not.

    Another example of what happens when news is dominated by viewer ratings. This is not a sporting event.

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Kenneth M


    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. Nicole in NE

    This is sad – we are dividing the party further with these comments.

    I personally did not vote for someone because of their race or gender, I find it very sad in this day and age people do.

    Please VOTE DEMOCRAT! Our future depends on it.
    A LOT of harm can be done in 4 years under McCain.....A LOT and George Bush has proven this already!

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. eStreet4ever

    As an older feminist who is solidly behind Obama, I find this line of argument disingenuous. Senator Clinton is old enough to remember very clearly the degree sexism permeated our culture not that long ago. Sure, there will always be sexists, but that does not strike me as the main reason people have not chosen Sen. Clinton. Every day something new–he only wins "unimportant states", the unbelievable "I'm winning the popular vote" argument, the complete 180 on seating the MI and FL delegations. After nearly 20 years of defending both the Clintons from charges that seemed unfair, I officially retired as soon as the negative campaigning started.

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Ryan

    If anything, I think she has used sexism to her advantage. Exit polls have not shown that men are unwilling to vote for her because she is a woman unlike those that show that some whites won't vote for Obama. Yes of course there is sexism, especially online, but there is also racism and I have not seen one covered unfairly more than the other. Clinton needs to stop playing the gender card, especially this late in the primary. There really is no basis to this claim. If she were running against a white man I would be a bit more understanding, but these are two groups that are discriminated against, and in this case there is no evidence that Clinton being a woman is holding her back (women are over half of the democrats).

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. GoHIll

    If you have been truly following the campaign of both candidates, you will see that Hillary is not saying anything about Obama being sexist. The MEDIA is sexist. This is in fact true! Everytime the television is on, reporters are negatively talking about her and how she is running her campaign. They believe Obama can do no wrong. Call a spade a spade. The media is sexist! Let's be for real those of you blinded by Obama, open your eyes! Even if you do "like" Obama, how about being honest in that she is being targeted by the Media because she is female.

    Any blind person could see that from a mile away!

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. Patricia in Las Vegas

    I am confused. It is obvious that so many women are voting for her solely for the reason they want to see a woman in the White House as president before they die, even though it is clearly obvious that she is NOT the right woman. So shouldn't she be spouting that sexism is working in her favor???

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. indy dem

    The press "reports negatively about Hillary" because she's losing. Face it, there's not much good news left for her campaign.

    SHE SHOULD HAVE WON THIS RACE. That's the big news.

    She had it all sewn up. Blaming the news media for bigotry against women is nothing more than a handy excuse. For Hillar it's a persona;ity problem not a gender problem

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. holy

    Hillary Clinton does not deserve resect from many people not because she is a woman but because she is a Liar married with a Liar.

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  23. Ruthie

    Next complaint from Hillary will be that the press emphasizes her pant suits – and that they highlighted Obama wearing blue jeans... then she will note that the press didn't mention her hair styling costs – remember when Bill held up air traffic at LAX for his haircut? She can start whining about the press' unfair treatment of her by not noting her manicure, pedicure, jewlery, ... no gray hair at age 60...

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. The Patriot

    Well, ALICE, have you (as an older white woman (ever faced sexism?) Or are you a self hater too.

    I DO believe that racism has played a MAJOR role in the campaign..........FOR OBAMA........get real folks, when over 90% or your race as a minority votes for you, you can darn sure bet that it isn't because of your policies.

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  25. Matt

    Again we see old political Clinton strategies. How disingenuous for Hillary to say that the race did not play role in the primaries when she and her husband kept bringing up race issues to scare off people from voting for Obama. Now that she is loosing the female vote to Obama we see again her strategy to exploit women's fears as if she is the only one that can address women’s concerns and everyday issues. Hillary stop exploiting voters’ fears!!!!

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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