What is this picture? This is a picture of the press corps that follows Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.
A few dozen reporters who regularly cover Hillary Clinton gathered last August to watch the first GOP debate at her headquarters in Brooklyn. MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald stopped for a moment and looked around.
A second later, he realized what seemed strange: He was the only man in the room.
At least 18 national media outlets have female reporters on the Clinton beat, across print, online, radio and TV, according to a POLITICO survey. Some, such as NBC, have as many as three. Local outlets in Iowa and New Hampshire have female reporters on Clinton, as well. No one can remember a political press corps this heavily female.
“If you go back to the ‘Boys on the Bus,’ there were so few women,” said NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, referring to Timothy Crouse’s seminal look at the frat-like atmosphere on the campaign trail, circa 1972.
“In 2008, I was one of the only women in [Clinton’s] traveling press corps,” recalled Amy Chozick of The New York Times, ticking off names of the reporters covering Clinton’s first presidential race. “Wow, it was pretty male then. So what’s changed?”
(As an aside, if you are a non-British male with a hyphenated last name then there are actually no men in the room)
What happens when you have white left-wing feminist, pro-abort reporters following a white left-wing feminist, pro-abort candidate about the country? Fawning coverage. While Hillary’s campaign complains of negative coverage, that coverage isn’t coming from the political reporters covering her. It is coming from other reporters looking at the shenanigans she was involved it while Secretary of State.
How about Hillary’s interviews:
Clinton has also chosen a disproportionate number of female reporters for her first extended interviews. Jennifer Jacobs of The Des Moines Register, Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa, Brianna Keilar of CNN, Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas and NBC’s Mitchell all got early sitdowns with Clinton after she wrapped up her “listening tour” and agreed to do more media.
Keilar pointed out that Clinton was simply going to reporters who had been on the trail with her day by day — and they were almost all women. But some of the female reporters said they felt Clinton’s choice of female journalists seemed calculated to reach female voters, or at least prompt a discussion of women’s issues, given that Clinton is such a famous figure that she could call up just about any journalist or anchor for an interview.
“I don’t think that’s by accident. It’s by design and that’s obviously a part of her campaign strategy,” said NBC’s Clinton embed, Monica Alba.
Do you think any news organization would let this go unremarked for a male GOP candidate? Do you think they would blithely go along with it? What is more, through intimidation or affinity, the mostly woman and Alex Seitz-Wald press corp give Clinton a pass on things that they would report on with a male candidate:
Still, some have discovered the hard way that being a female reporter covering a female candidate does nothing to shield one from accusations of sexism. NPR’s Tamara Keith recalled a story in which she referred to an infamous news conference with Clinton in the 1990s in which Clinton wore a pink outfit — a garish, very 1990s look, Keith remarked in an interview. The letters accusing Keith of sexism poured in.
“We actually had to do a letters segment there were so many letters,” said Keith. “I had to come on air and try to explain why I had used that, why I had described what she was wearing. Sometimes what someone is wearing is interesting and relevant.”
Chozick said she sometimes receives vitriolic notes and comments from other women who tell her that there’s a “special place in hell” for women who work to bring down other women.
When it comes to details about the candidate that could be perceived as sexist, from her appearance to her emotions, many of the reporters said they aim to treat Clinton as they would a man. Some even have self-imposed bans on never writing about Clinton’s appearance. But being a woman reporting on another woman leads to unavoidable differences from male colleagues who cover the same candidate.
Fox News’ Tamara Gitt added: “I think, as a woman, if you hear someone talk, whether man or woman, talk about women’s issues it might resonate with you more in that you might focus or hear it more, maybe more so than a man.” Gitt quickly added, “It definitely doesn’t affect how we report on her, though.”
It definitely doesn’t. Really. It doesn’t. There is no way it affects your coverage.