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. Elisa

    Where was she when the media bias against Senator Obama hit the most racist tone at times? She is such a hypocrite! When things happen to others, she acts like all is well but for some reason when the similar things happen to her, it is unacceptable and she gets all dismissive. Don't blame the message Hillary, blame the messenger and that is you! People don't like you not because they are sexist, I truly don't like you and don't respect you but I am a female too. You can't just label people just because they don't respect you. If you do, then hypocrite would be very appropriate for the label you get! Today, Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with something serious but I am sure you don't even care because God forbid if something is not about you. Will you call the media sexist because they are covering Senator Kennedy today when you are expected to "win" big in such a racist part of our country? That sure wouldn't surprise me! Have some grace, will you?

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. ???

    Oh my God!!! I have had enough of "if you don't vote Barrack, you're racist", "if you don't vote Hillary you're sexist". I expect this from the media, but the candidates themselves should have a little more self respect than to sensationalize these issues. I voted for Barrack because I believe he is a better candidate NOT because I don't want a female leader.

    May 20, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Steve TX 34

    I agree...Hillary getting votes from WOMEN because she is a WOMAN is EXTREMELY sexist. There are none more racist or sexist than those in politics who then chastise the rest of us as being sexist or racist. Only in politics are gains and loses measured so heavily by race and gender!!! More hipocracy to come. Stay tuned!!

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  4. Debbie,NJ

    Oh Hillary where is your dignity? Don't you have any left? If you really want to make a statement for woman (real woman, those born with all the credentials) then step down with poise and dignity. Be graceful about it. Why throw away all the good things you and BIll had going for you. The younger generation doesn't know, or care about your past contributions to this country. But do it for the elderly and the woman. Do it for Chelsie. You don't want her to be laughed at for the rest of her life do you?

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Independent in Florida

    Margaret Thatcher had never used the gender card.

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. Michael

    It's that type of attitude that makes Hillary Clinton a desperate and untrustworthy candidate. If there have been any elements of sexism, they have been very minor. Now, I think the media should be careful on counting her out until June 3rd, but as for Mrs. Clinton, she needs to stop accusing the media of being sexist because she has been making the news herself with her nasty behavior towards Obama and her campaign's wild spin of the race, which in reality shows that her hopes are fading.

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. James

    Being for Obama does not make you a sexist, nor does being for HRC make you a racist. Obama brought new, fresh ideas that a lot of people believe in. That is why he is ahead.

    Honestly, against any other candidate, HRC would have been a cake-walk to the nomination.

    It ain't race or sex, it is change going on here.

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Barb Canada

    It's true.....Sadly it's true....I have seen too many ugly sexist comments on this blog eg. If she took care of her man he wouldn't cheat......She should be in the kitchen......A woman can't take care of the goes on and on!

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. Ratgurl

    Actually, Hill, no one sees you as a woman, so it's definitely not gender-bias that's hurting you. Maybe it's, i dunno... your SCORCHED EARTH CAMPAIGNING? YOUR KITCHEN SINK STRAGETY? YOUR LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR TACTICS?

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. The Management

    Due to the ignorant nature of some comments, we have been forced to delete or simply ignore some posts so as to protect ourselves and the public from malicious stupidity.

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Brian Knoxville, TN

    Hillary Clinton has been the best candidate in this long primary election, is by far more competent to run against the Republicans in the general election, and is infinitely more qualified to be President of the United States than is Barack Obama.

    Sexism has definitely been one part of the explanation as to the steeper hill Hillary has had to climb.

    What else explains it? How about the way the Obama campaign has used the race card all along. Take a look at Shelby Steele’s A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win (Free Press). I've been accused of being a white male who is not ready for a black man to be President by Obama fans for no other reason than because I will not vote for a candidate who is too inexperienced for the office.

    Of course, if Hillary Clinton is not the nominee of the Democratic Party, then John McCain will be our next President. So all this talk about race and gender is little more than academic.


    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. Point to Evidence

    Point to anything said or written by anyone in the general media that said anything along the lines of "Can a woman even be president?" or "What is she doing out of the kitchen?"

    I see this as a disgraceful ploy to recover after watching baldly racist comments giving Obama a boost when the people called them on it.

    Hillary, I know your family has a hard time with this but now would be an excellent time to learn how to bow out gracefully.

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. Ro

    just because we don't like her, doesn't mean its sexism.....we just don't like HER.....

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. True Feminist From NC

    As a woman this absolutely disgusts me. This type of stuff is one of the reasons more people such as myself don't support her.
    The irony is that she is accusing everyone of being sexist while at the same time throwing out the race card (hard working white people) right along with her husband.

    Senator Clinton, I use to have alot of respect for you. No More. You in fact are what every woman should be fighting against. I do not want my children and other young girls around the world to look to a someone who will lie, cheat, and try to steal in order to get ahead in life.

    I will be so glad when you are no longer relevant (which happens to be today). I hope the people of New York are paying attention and will not re-elect you because you Madam do not deserve to hold public office.

    True Feminist From NC

    May 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. Andrew

    Ferraro is supporting her candidate with the wrong issue. As a teacher in high school, I have learned one thing about neurotic behavior. To Blame is to be neurotic.

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

    I have noticed this as well. Like calling Senator Clinton, "Mrs Clinton"
    The good ole boys want nothing to do with a Woman President.
    The media ignores sexism but if there is anything close to racism then it is all over the media.
    I guess us women are suppose to be use to it.

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

    Hillary will win big in Kentucky for the same reason she won big in WV and shall do so in every backward APPALACHIAN STATE. She wins the uneducated, gullible , ignorant individuals VOTE! Obama could have ran against Big Bird in either state........Big Bird would have won!!!

    Hillary is hoping that the Obama supporters will develop a 'buyers' remorse". I wonder if she would like a re-vote in CA or see which supporters are in fact having this so called 'remorse'!

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

    Hillary: You're behavior and demeanor is becoming SO undignified! Pitiful really.

    May 20, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. R1100RT in VA

    It's always all about YOU, isn't it, Hillary. It's not your policies, or your mendacity, or your pandering that cause people to vote for someone other than you. It's YOU, isn't it?

    It's only because you're female that the press calls you out on your lies . If you were a male whining about who gets the first question in the debates or if Obama needs another pillow, nobody would pay it any mind, right?

    You're pathetic. Go away.

    May 20, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. Dena

    Hillary, I was all for you until you opened your bag of dirty tricks. I'm black and I did not seriously consider Obama in the beginning. I made the switch before Iowa and I've never looked back. You were my girl, Hillary. What happened? (I still love you but Barack has my vote).

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

    Hillary, you lost because you ran a poor campaign. That's the truth. Blaming it on sexism is pathetic.

    To learn what you did wrong, grab a copy of Advertising for Dummies or Politics for Dummies – your choice – and read.

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

    You know... Obama delt with racist attacks by elevating the level of debate and discussion through an incredible speech. Maybe Hillary would have gotten my vote if she had taken the sexism that her campaign experienced and used it to discuss the role gender plays in our society... just a thought. Stop complaining and see it as an opportunity... we, the voters, aren't stupid!

    May 20, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. South Carolina Open Mind

    how can she say racism has not played a roll, once again this is an example of old washington politics, using whatever will make people feel sorry for them to win. the media always play unfair, thats nothing new.

    humbly submitted

    May 20, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. bob D

    What I would give to understand what is going on in Clinton's brain. I don't understand how someone as smart as she is can put out such flawed arguments

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

    This campaign had sexist and racial overtones throughout. Hillary only noted the sexism because it is to her benefit. How can she deny that racism played a part of this campaign when several of her surrogates (Namely Gov Ed Rendell) stated that some whites (in Penn) would not vote for a black man. That's racist. As is anyone that would not vote for Hillary because she is a women. There have been voters of both types during this election and for Hillary to not acknowledge that, she way out of touch.

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