September 15th, 2008
05:35 PM ET
4 years ago

Fiorina calls SNL impersonation of Palin 'sexist'

 Tina Fey as Gov. Sarah Palin (left) and Amy Poehler as Sen. Hillary Clinton opened 'Saturday Night Live.'
Tina Fey as Gov. Sarah Palin (left) and Amy Poehler as Sen. Hillary Clinton opened 'Saturday Night Live.'

(CNN) - A top aide to John McCain said Monday she thought comedian Tina Fey's impersonation of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin on NBC's Saturday Night Live over the weekend was sexist because it portrayed the Alaska governor as lacking in substance.

The NBC comedy show's season premiere began with a "nonpartisan message" during which Fey's Palin and Amy Poehler's depiction of Hillary Clinton called for an end to sexism in the presidential race.

"The portrait was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin, and so in that sense, they were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive, and Sarah Palin as totally superficial," Fiorina told MSNBC earlier Monday. "I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme, and yes, I would say, sexist in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean that she lacks substance."

Watch: 'Palin' makes SNL debut

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO is among McCain's most high profile surrogates and earlier this month was the first member of the Arizona senator's campaign to suggest Democrats were launching sexist attacks at the Republican VP candidate.

"I am appalled by the Obama campaign's attempts to belittle Governor Sarah Palin’s experience,” Fiorina said then. “The facts are that Sarah Palin has made more executive decisions as a Mayor and Governor than Barack Obama has made in his life."

Fiorina, along with other high-profile female backers of McCain, held a press conference at the Republican National Convention criticizing the Obama campaign and the media for what they said were sexist comments about Palin.

"I think one of the things Hillary Clinton's run for the presidency did is attune women's ears to sexist attacks…. Many people have demeaned or belittled [Palin's] experience — and as women, we all know how frequently that happens. This is a well qualified candidate for the vice presidency," she said.


Filed under: Carly Fiorina • Sarah Palin
soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. Chip Evans

    Carly, get a life! I know you don't have a job and need to hang around politicians to convey some personal gravitas, but it ain't happening.

    Tina's portrayal was dead on. If you sense her conveying Ms. Palin lacks substance, it probably reflects the reality the rest of us have uncovered. Palin is an interesting diversion. A woman of substance? I don't think so.

    This article has you connecting Obama with what SNL comedians did. If so, then you're as big a part of the McCain disinformation campaign as Mr. Rove and team.

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. cnn junkie

    a noun,a verb and sexism

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. annie - former democrat

    I'm usually at work during the day but was home today and every time I channel surfed cnn was showing this ignorant skit which by the way made fun of both Hillary and Palin or they were doing live shots of obama or bidens speeches today. This is not journalism! I would vote for NO candidate that the biased news media unadulteratedly tries to cram down everyone's throat! This snl was totally sexist toward both women! For news facts – don't watch cnn.

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Proud to be American

    The McCain Camp ... "they are picking on me"... yeah right and the economy is fundamentally sane.... Give me a break!

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. Shawn

    Lack of substance does not equal sexism. Palin does lack substance and that fact is painfully obvious when compared to Hillary Clinton.

    I don't think Fiorina know what the word "sexist" means.

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. dave from pa

    Hey Carly,
    ITS A JOKE ON A COMEDY SHOW!! GET A GRIP! (Maybe we DO have something to worry about when it comes to Palin.) Like Ed Koch stated this weekend... Sarah Palin "scares the hell out of me". Does he know something we have yet to discover?? Hey Ed, she scares me too!!!

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. jr

    Palin was picked for reforming Alaska Republican politics. It is about time the mainstream media portrayed her accurately. As a reformist who is tough in a fight. Not a weakling like Obama.

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. Nina

    Portraying a male candidate as lacking substance is satire. However, portraying a female candidate as lacking substance is sexist? Right. Maybe the McCain campaign should spend less time whining about non-existent sexism and more time explaining their positions on the issues.

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. James in RI

    Um.... "Saying that one woman is better than another woman just because she's smarter, more experienced, more substantive and more honest is TOTAL SEXISM."
    Right.... And I've got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska, Mrs. Fiorina

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Paul Thompson

    Obama...says he's for making change....

    OK...he defined what the topic will be for this election (everybody campaigns on change though Barack) and when McCain/Palin
    campaign for what they want to 'change'....Obama starts
    whining about them stealing his topic....

    Does he really think American's are that dumb?

    If change is what we need...then what type of change...
    it's a logical response...why the whining?

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. S-Man

    No wonder why HP is laying off 24000 of its employees.. Geez.. how can they have someone like Fiorina as CEO.

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. robert

    go to hell and take Palin/ mccain with you. Bunch of crybabay all over mccains camp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yes our economy is strong people dont worry ooooooo noooo i didnt mean that our economy is strong but its a though times for american people hahah MCCAIN YOU ARE A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  13. NewGalactic

    So far this season, I've seen the GOP attack "big media" outlets like SNL, David Letterman, and Bill Maher, and I cannot be happier. Personally I think that Dave, Bill, John Stewert and the entire Daily Show, and the cast of SNL, should all have their journalistic credentials revoked. For me, I stick to Fair and Balanced shows like The Colbert Report for my take on the days events.

    Top Threats:
    1. Liberals
    ...
    2. Bears

    September 15, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  14. Summer

    Good good grief...I've heard it all now. By this definition of "sexism", any criticism of any woman for anything would be sexism. And as a woman, I find that kind of thinking deeply offensive. News flash, Fiorina: it is possible for female politicians to be substance-free idiots, just like men. It is possible for them to be liars, just like men. In Sarah Palin's case, she's both, and pointing that fact out is NOT sexist.

    And the irony of this remark coming in response to a skit lampooning the idiocy of the "criticism = sexism" concept is just too rich.

    September 15, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. Amy

    It is time to bring Hillary back in the race. Have Biden become Secretary of State and Hillary be the VP candidate. Then, we will see if SNL was just truthful or sexist about Palin in the VP debate.

    Criticizing on a person with no substance is not a sexism. Saying women can not take these jokes is already a sexism to look down on our ability. Carly should know that. Even Palin said it was fun to watch.

    Sexism is about saying a mother with 5 kids can not run for a VP, that is sexism, as it relates to the stereotypical role of women. SNL was not, it was just a joke on the personalities and experiences.

    Obama/Clinton/Biden '08

    September 15, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. Joseph

    After being dismissed at Hewlett-Packard for doing a lousy job, Fiorina continues her messed up approach as a McCain spokeswoman, spewing this phoney baloney about sexism every time she opens her mouth. The American people are sick of this and would really like to hear about the issues facing this country, issues that McCain doesn't want to talk about.

    September 15, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. Bigbubba

    Another McCain stooge who says anything to make Palin look better. Admittedly the poor woman does need help to even appear marginally competent.
    What Fiorina does not come close to understanding is that the sketch was satire. Then again, the whole concept of satire may be beyond his capabilities. After all he does think McCain is the person to save the economy. So, his mental agility may be marginal at best.

    So Mr Fiorina, allow me to explain. In satire you would take existing traits of a person and exagerate them to the point where an average person would see them to be used as humor. Since Palin is widely deemed to be somewhat thin as far as brains are concerned, she was made to appear to be even more of an airhead than she does normally. Just as Clinton is made to appear as a shrill, bitter, defeated candidate that refuses to go along and help her party without making it appear she is being forced to do so. Both ladies are not the parodies that were on the television. However, Ms Clinton has appeared on Saturday Night Live. This at least shows that she understands that public preception can be turned from a negative to a positive if handled correctly.
    Something that neither you nor the candidates you represent seem to get.

    September 15, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. Dr. Dave

    Oh , grow a sense of humor. SNL has been doing broad parodies of every candidate for president since Carter. Tina Fey had the look and voice down pat.

    September 15, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
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