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Monday, August 13, 2012

Women on the Sunday Morning Sausagefest should be seen and not heard
Posted by Jill | 5:56 AM
I don't usually watch the troika of Sunday morning network gasbag shows. You know the ones I'm talking about -- the ones hosted by fossilized friends of the Bush family, craven ex-Clintonites trying to prove their moderatism, and Karl Rove's dancing partner. There is rarely anything substantive to these shows; they are an endless weekly repetition of the same old crap dished out by the same old (usually Republican) guest, followed by a discussion by Beltway hacks who stopped being relevant around the time George Herbert Walker Bush was astounded by a supermarket scanner.

It isn't that women aren't represented on these shows, it's that only a certain TYPE of woman is welcome. That woman is soft-spoken, tends to listen attentively and nod her head at what the menfolk are saying, and rarely has a contradictory opinion. She is well-coiffed, often with the Sally Quinn Pageboy Hairdo. She is Doris Kearns Goodwin and Peggy Noonan's Heart Will Go On For Ronald Reagan In Perpetuity. They are giddy fangirl Margaret Carlson and the plasticine face of what used to be Katty Kay. She is Donna Brazile only because with Donna you get a twofer token -- a black female who is one micrometer to the left of the semi-loony right that now passes as the center. Perennial girly-girl Arianna Huffington is welcome now that she's become a quasi-conservative again, and while some of these women are livelier than others, no woman is ever allowed on these shows who might tell these people that they are full of shit.

Except on the rare occasions when Rachel Maddow is on Meet the Press.

I deigned to watch the roundtable discussion on David Gregory's excreble weekly exercise in cocktail-weenie hackery yesterday, as I was doing some extremely repetitive work on The Project From Hell, because I wanted to see what Rachel Maddow had to say. And that is when it struck me just how smug and misogynistic the men on these shows are. Most people who read this blog probably either watch The Rachel Maddow Show or at least have a passing familiarity with her. Rachel is passionate without being mean, and she doesnt' just pull stuff out of her ass. But how she got through yesterday's show without going back to the green room and putting her fist through a wall, I have no idea.

If I had been in her shoes, and had this exchange with National Review's Rich Lowry, I would probably be in jail right now for throttling him:

Rich Lowry. Why is this man's opinion even regarded as something people should hear? After all, this is the man who wrote this after the 2008 Vice Presidential debate:

I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.

I'm sorry, but a man who doesn't know that the person he sees on a TV screen isn't actually sitting behind the glass has no business being taken seriously in punditry.

But this is the typical way that men on these shows have of silencing women (and there really IS only one ) who dare to contradict them. Every time Rachel Maddow is on a show where there is a Republican, she is filibustered by them -- and the male hosts always, always let it happen. It doesn't even matter what the political leaning of the host is, if the host is male, they seem to think silencing a woman by filibustering is perfectly OK. Watch this clip from Real Time With Bill Maher to see what I mean:

Of course Maher, despite the fact that he's largely on our side, is, in fact, a sexist pig. So I guess we should expect this. But if a show is supposed to be about "discussion", it would be nice if they would allow women to actually participate in the discussion instead of sit quietly and look nice and only be allowed to speak when they agree with the Republican men.

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Blogger Ramona Grigg said...
I saw that show, too, and before that little segment was over, I was screaming at the TV (I do know those people aren't really behind the glass but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. Ha.)

I railed about it on FB and thought about writing about it once I could get hold of the transcript, but you did it so much better here!

Rich Lowry was not going to let her best him in that last segment and Gregory enabled him--purposely, if not gleefully. But the most egregious part of it all was that when Lowry finally shut up and Rachel began to speak, Gregory shut her off so he could talk to BILL BENNETT!!

I hope Rachel talks about it tonight. That was disgusting.

Thanks for this. I'll pass it on.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I wrote the network and complained.

Blogger Lars said...
I, too, saw this show. Rachel was indomitable and would not be deterred despite Lowery's continued interruptions. He reminded me of kids on the playground: "I know you are, but what am I?" If only I could have put a dunce cap on him and sat his butt in a corner of the studio.

What continues to amaze me is the lack of intestinal fortitude David Gregory and some of the other male host have. To let his show descend into a pile of childish banter is all his fault.

While I am at it, I want to say how astounded I am that Soledad has finally stepped up to the table and started to call BS on those who are allowed to perpetuate lies on CNN. If only other journalist could take a page out of Rachel's and Soledad's playbook, we might be able to advance political discourse.

Lastly, I will admit that I too kept yelling at my screen for David Gregory to grow a set. Alas, it seems NBC has put them away in a jar...

Anonymous Frankly Curious said...
Rich Lowry was totally out of line. So too was Stephen Moore. However, I think it is clear that Rachel Maddow can take care of herself. I think it is wrong to suggest that she should be protected, when she so clearly destroyed Lowry and Moore.

In both cases, the conservatives are behaving as they must because they live in worlds where they are rarely countered about their fact free opinions. What Maddow said about median income rising only 3% cannot be countered, it can only be shouted over.

Rich Lowry is just a jerk (I wouldn't normally use that word, but this isn't my blog) who isn't even doing the "shout over" maneuver correctly. He's just stopping her from completing a sentence. And he does it the way I used to do to my sister--when I was 8!

David Gregory should have done something to stop what turned out to be dead time, but I'm not sure what would have been effective. The main thing is that he should never have Lowry on the show again. Such behavior is totally unacceptable.

But Rachel Maddow rises above all of this. I understand how Bill Maher has the lovable rogue thing going on. But Lowry and Moore? They just come off as smug children. If people see them as coming out on top in these debates they are invulnerable to both facts and civility.

Maher and Gregory are wrong in who they allow on their shows. I'm skeptical that much can be done once the show is on. Regardless, I'm sure that strong progressives (women and men alike) are quite capable of destroying our society's persecutors.

Blogger Unknown said...
I stopped watching those Sunday shows because they don't add anything to the conversation. When poll after poll says voters want to tax the rich, love medicare and Social Security. The spend all day everday chanting the Republican mantra - Austerity. I watch C. Hayes (UP) and Melissa Harris-Perry on Sat. & Sundays now. The thing that is really horrible about MTP, etc. is they just allow deliberate lies to told to the public and no one seems to care. They don't realize how much they hurt the American public when they do that.