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Lawrence and Rose- The Gendered Game- Chapter six

Lawrence and Rose- The Gendered Game- Chapter six - 250...

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Chapter 6: A Gendered Game: Themes in Media Coverage of Clinton’s Campaign The press will savage her no matter what….They really have their knives out for her, there's no question about it. -- Washington Post national political correspondent, Dana Milbank, December 2007 Beating on the press is the lamest thing you can do. It is only because of the utter open-mindedness of the press that Hillary can lose 11 contests in a row and still be treated as a contender. -- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, February 2008 On the night of the country’s first victory for a female candidate in a major-party primary, journalists and other media personalities were taken by surprise. Public opinion polls leading into the New Hampshire primary had suggested that Senator Barack Obama was surging ahead of Senator Hillary Clinton in that state’s contest for the Democratic nomination. When Clinton won New Hampshire by three points, many pundits reached for explanations. MSNBC’s Hardball featured the following exchange between the show’s anchor Chris Matthews and veteran journalist Tom Brokaw: Brokaw: “You know what I think we’re going to have to do?” Chris Matthews: “Yes sir?” Brokaw: “Wait for the voters to make their judgment.” 250
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Matthews: “Well what do we do then in the days before the ballot? We must stay home, I guess” (Steinberg and Elder 2008). Brokaw’s comment evoked what some observers of election 2008 found troubling: It seemed that the media had become quick to declare winners and losers in an historic primary season that had just begun—and that, in ways that were sometimes hard to pin down, the media were holding Clinton to different standards. Matthews’ response, meanwhile, seemed to capture the dilemma for many pundits and reporters: If they did not handicap the horse race, relying on polls to forecast winners and losers, then how would they cover the election? 1 In this chapter, we analyze some of the key themes and narratives that contributed powerfully to the negative tone of Clinton’s media coverage—and to the perception of many observers that she was not being treated fairly. These themes and narratives, we argue, arose both from the media’s standard routines for covering all presidential candidates, and from the ongoing, pervasive gendering of presidential politics that found a target in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Adding a perhaps fatal third ingredient to the mix was the poisoned relationship between Hillary Clinton and the national press corps stemming back to her days in the White House. We begin by further analyzing our sample of mainstream front page and prime time news coverage to show the connection between the media’s prevalent “game framing” of presidential politics and the negativity of coverage of Clinton’s campaign. We then broaden the picture, moving beyond quantitative analysis of our mainstream
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Lawrence and Rose- The Gendered Game- Chapter six - 250...

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