March is Women’s History Month, in which we acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of women in history and in society today. But for a select group of women – conservative women – their accomplishments and contributions are rarely celebrated but often demeaned and mocked in sexist – and crassly sexual – ways. The Culture & Media Insitute looked back at what the media had to say over the past year about some of today’s most prominent conservative women, including Michelle Malkin, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sarah Palin and Liz Cheney, and compiled a list of the 10 worst attacks on these women who dare to speak out in favor of conservative values. Much of the criticism was the worst sort of misogyny with a dose of violence and disgusting adolescent sex references thrown in for good measure. The media outlets in question ranged from Playboy magazine to MSNBC to Sirius XM radio and included comments from both men and women.The message that rang through loud and clear was that perspectives from conservative women were not appreciated or welcomed, and if a woman stepped out of line, she deserved whatever treatment she received.
10. Liz Cheney, Daddy’s Little Girl?
MSNBC and liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz labeled Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, nothing more than a daddy’s girl during his Sept. 29 MSNBC program, “The Ed Show.”
“There’s a couple of gals who’ve been riding the wave of crazy that’s been sweeping the nation’s right-wingers: ‘Shooter’s little girl, Liz Cheney, has been hitting the lecture circuit, parroting daddy’s fear-mongering rhetoric,” stated Schultz. Of course, Liz Cheney is no simple “daddy’s girl.” She holds a law degree from the University of Chicago, and served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. A liberal woman with the same qualifications as Cheney would never be categorized as a “daddy’s girl” but as an empowered woman in her own right
9. David Letterman’s “Top Ten” List of Sarah Palin Insults
Late night talk show host David Letterman couldn’t let an opportunity to go by without trashing Sarah Palin during his June 8 show. The usual “jokes” about Palin’s intellect appeared on Letterman’s “Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Palin's Trip to New York,” alongside a knock on her looks. “Number Two: Bought make-up from Bloomingdale’s to update her ‘slutty flight attendant look,” read the comedian.
Then he went further, with a crude joke about her 14-year-old daughter being impregnated at Yankee Stadium. Letterman eventually was forced to apologize for that joke, but not for carried on the tradition of painting Palin as a complete bimbo, not a governor or a former vice-presidential candidate.
8. Rosie O’Donnell ‘Humanized’ Conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Apparently to Rosie O’Donnell, conservative women are less than human.The former “View” moderator outlined how she tried to “humanize” her former colleague, Elisabeth Hasselbeck during the Feb. 8 broadcast of her Sirius XM radio show, “Rosie Radio.” O'Donnell's comments stemmed from a discussion about the conservative backlash to her recent HBO documentary about families, "A Family is a Family is a Family." “It’s sort of what I thought about Elisabeth Hasselbeck, too. I’m going to love her, regardless of what she says, I’m gonna love her and the love, then, is going to win through in the end,” O’Donnell explained to her current colleagues. “I was positive of this, and we sort of started to humanize her. Remember, after she came to my house, she actually said on television how she thought our family was so great? Can you imagine the amount of hate mail she got from her constituency?”
7. Sarah Palin = Vice-President Barbie?
ABC reporter David Wright couldn’t keep himself from comparing Sarah Palin to Barbie during his Feb. 16 “Nightline” segment on the doll’s 50th birthday. “[Barbie's] been an astronaut and a rock star. Pop icons Beyonce and Shakira. She's won 'American Idol' too,” he began. “Some would argue she also ran for vice-president in 2008,” quipped Wright, after showing various clips of Palin. “Caribou Barbie” was a characterization many in the media used to deride Palin throughout the 2008 election. Wright’s attack on the former Alaskan governor in a segment that had nothing to do with politics and aired three months after the election, illustrated that the media weren’t planning to back off sexist comments about Palin anytime soon.
6. Toronto Star Columnist Tweets a Death Wish for Michelle Malkin
Unfortunately, as Erbe proved, it’s not only liberal men who have it out for conservative women. Antonia Zerbisias is another one. The Toronto Star columnist expressed deep hatred for Michelle Malkin in an April 2009 Twitter message that read, “Forget the Marxists, I wish the marksmen would take @MichelleMalkin. I’m thinking Dick Cheney. He’s such a good shot.” Apparently Zerbisias’s employer is okay with these types of remarks, as evidenced by her bio at the Star.“Antonia Zerbisias, columnist for the Toronto Star's Living section, has been telling people what she thinks ever since she could open her mouth,” the bio said. “Her opinionating career dates back to Grade 9 when a cartoon commentary on a teacher resulted in her suspension from high school. The principal sent her home with a note calling her ‘rude, obstreperous and bold.’ Her parents were neither amused, nor surprised. Once she was punished for being that way. Now she makes it pay.”
5. Comedian Chuck Nice Compares Sarah Palin to Herpes
Sarah Palin is no stranger to negative media attention, but comparing her to a sexually transmitted disease takes the criticisms over the line. During a June 9 discussion on NBC’s “Today” show about Palin’s role in the GOP, comedian Chuck Nice told his co-panelists, NBC’s chief legal analyst Dan Abrams and Politco’s White House reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, “But, Sarah Palin to the GOP, this is what I’ve got to say, she is very much like herpes, she’s not going away.” Abrams simply responded, “That's the advantage of being Chuck Nice. You can say that and there's no repercussions.” Henderson did not respond. Before hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb moved on to other topics, Nice informed viewers, “Everybody is laughing. I don’t care. The band is cracking up.” Unfortunately, that’s the typical response when it comes to insulting conservative woman.
4. Keith Olbermann Compares Michelle Malkin to a ‘Mashed-Up Bag of Meat With Lipstick on it”
MSNBC personalities reserve a special level of vitriol for conservative woman, and none more so than Keith Olbermann. Olbermann compared Michelle Malkin to a “big, mashed up bag of meat with lipstick on it” during his Oct. 13 “Countdown” show because he believed she encouraged death threats made to a woman who posted a video of singing their praises to President Barack Obama. “She received death threats and hate-filled voicemails all thanks to the total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk fascistic hatred, without with Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it,” Olbermann stated. Olbermann’s comments were deemed offensive enough to warrant a response from editor Megan Carpentier, an editor at liberal and now-defunct Air America Radio. “A liberal, progressive critique of Malkin need not and should not resort to an attack on her looks or her gender or rely on silly stereotypes or imagery that brings to mind victims of domestic violence,” wrote Carpentier. You know Olbermann went too far when even liberals are calling him out on his remarks.
3. U.S News and World Report’s Bonnie Erbe Takes Issue with Playboy List – Except for Inclusion of Michelle Malkin
It’s bad enough that liberal men don’t hesitate to speak of women in offensive, sexualized terms, but it’s beyond outrageous when a woman claims they deserved it. But that’s just what U.S. News and World Report’s Bonnie Erbe did in the wake of the Playboy “hate f---” list. “I'm also a firm believer in supporting all members of my gender when attacked due to their gender. I am supporting these women herewith,” Erbe maintained before noting that her “support” carried limits.
Erbe continued, “I also want to note that at least one woman on the list is so venom-spewing, she unfortunately invites venom to be shot back at her: Michelle Malkin. Her posts and her ‘routine’ are so venomous and predictable in fact, I stopped paying attention to her years ago.” Malkin struck back at Erbe and explained the true meaning behind Erbe’s words. “Translation: It’s not okay to talk about “hatef**king” conservative women…unless they are rowdy, incivil conservative women who don’t behave nicely enough to be on my obscure PBS show,” wrote Malkin. “In which case, they deserve all the vulgar misogynist attacks they get!”
2. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi Uses Graphic Sexual Language to Discredit Michelle Malkin and the Tea Party Movement
In a Tax Day 2009 blog post, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi claimed “he really enjoying this whole teabag thing” and that “it’s really inspiring some excellent daydreaming.” Taibbi let his readers in on the nature of his daydreams that involve conservative pundit Michelle Malkin in incredibly vulgar ways. “[T]his move of hers to spearhead the teabag movement really adds an element to her writing that wasn’t there before,” he wrote. “Now when I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy, set of b---- in her mouth. It vastly improves her prose.” Nothing brings out liberals’ inner juvenile thug like an outspoken conservative woman.
1. Playboy’s Hate List
(I covered this fail in this entry.)
Playboy magazine writer Guy Cimbalo released his list of top ten conservative women against whom he’d like to commit violent sexual acts last June. Calling these acts a “hate fuck” in his “So Right It’s Wrong” article, Cimbalo explained that he “might despise everything” about women like Michelle Malkin, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, “The View’s” Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Mary Katherine Ham and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, “but g--dammit, they’re hot!” Cimbalo listed the physical attributes of each woman along with short explanations of why a self-respecting liberal male shouldn’t be attracted to them. A “hate-fuck" rating,” presumably to tell others just how good the sex would be, accompanied each listing as well. Hasselbeck was described as “the clean-cut American sweetheart who elicits our filthiest thoughts.” Ciabalo labeled Bachmann the “lusty congresswoman from the Twin Cities who’s got some great twins of her own.” As for the rating each woman received, they ranged from “chemical castration would begin to sound more appealing” to “you get this one pregnant, she stays pregnant.” Cimbalo’s list was a disgusting example of low the media will stoop to malign conservative women. And it caused such a firestorm that Playboy removed it from its Web site.
Ideological issues aside, I think there's a need to discuss the obvious double standard of treatment. Also, feel free to discuss situations where it occured in the opposite direction.