June 2008

Do you get your political news from the internet or the television?

Your answer to this question may have everything to do with your beliefs about who’s winning this election, who’s voting for whom, and which issues matter most to people. Just how close do you think the race is? Your response is likely determined by your news source.

Many people acknowledge that the numbers can be interpreted to support a variety of opinions. Let’s keep this in mind as we look at who’s reporting what. Also, let’s remember that some news sources might have a vested interest in making you believe the race is closer than it is.

It’s not surprising that the networks do what they do. They invest money in polls, they’re sensitive to criticism of “bias”, and they have an eye on ratings. But there’s a reason that those who are interested in politics are increasingly turning to the internet.

A record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize others.

The use of the internet to get political news is growing. At times, it’s the only place you can get the news. And as long as networks insist on relying only on their own polls, or pushing an old narrative that’s not supported by the newest data, the American public is not going to get a clear and fair picture of what’s going on by relying on broadcast news alone. Not unless the networks do a better job in reading polls. (Link)

Read all about it: “Why Can’t the Networks Read Polls?” (DailyKOS)

An Indiana school teacher with 27 years experience has been fired for using the “Freedom Writers Diary” in her class. Despite the fact that students’ parents signed permission slips and that the book is available in the school library, district officials voted to suspend the teacher.

Watch the video on CNN here.

For more information on the book, check out the Freedom Writers Foundation.

In honor of Pride 2008, here’s a clip of Mikayla Connell delivering the Pink Brick Award to Bill O’Reilly earlier this month.

About the Pink Brick:

The Pink Brick recipient is a person or institution which has done significant harm to the interests of LGBT peoples to receive the Pink Brick. This person is selected by public vote for receipt of the Pink Brick, a faux award that represents the first brick hurled at the Stonewall Rebellion on June 27, 1969. (Read more here)

SF Pride 2008

In case you thought it was just “US Weekly” and “The View” hyping up Michelle Obama’s clothes and motherhood in attempt to de-emphasize her successful career and intelligence, think again.

In “Michelle Obama Highlights Her Warmer Side” in The New York Times Thursday, TV critic Alessandra Stanley wrote that “Mrs. Obama distanced herself from that model [of the assertive career woman] on The View, describing herself as a mother and not mentioning her law career or her views on policy.” (The Candidates’ Wives Face Media Sexism by Lisa Witter)

Witter points out how quickly we have shifted focus from seriously considering our first female President to wondering what kind of “seen but not heard” First Ladies the candidates’ wives will be.

Media coverage everywhere is “Michelle vs. Cindy.” Where do they buy their dresses? Do they make bacon for breakfast? And, of course, which one can we compare to Jackie O?

Is anyone else as appalled as I am at how quickly we have gone back to thinking of women in the oldest of stereotypes — as only wives and mothers?

I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I love my family. But I’m other things, too. We all know that the presidents’ wives play an important role in policy and diplomacy in one way or another. Just look at the publicly recognized legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt, which proves how a strong first spouse (it just happens to be that they’ve all been first “ladies” so far) makes a country stronger.

So why do we hide it by focusing on hair, clothes and what’s on the breakfast table? Isn’t this part of the mostly unspoken sexism that Sen. Hillary Clinton and even the media have highlighted all along? (The Candidates’ Wives Face Media Sexism)

Eliza in Hollywood notes the contrast between Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama.

Cindy McCain doesn’t threaten the status quo. Michelle Obama does. Barbara Bush didn’t threaten the status quo. Hillary Clinton did. Laura Bush didn’t. Therese Heinz (Kerry) did. When it comes to political wives, outspoken is out. Soft-spoken is in. Making policy is out. Baking cookies is in. Ambition is definitely out. (The Castration of Michelle Obama)

Canadian Gal also points out the emphasis on Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama as “Soft, Cuddly, Wives and Mothers.”

What has been disgusting is that we have reverted into the oldest stereotypes – namely that women should ONLY depicted as wives or mothers.

The responsibility doesn’t just rest on the media, which I’ll get to in a minute. The campaigns themselves deserve some of the blame as well. Do the Obama’s and the McCain’s want to play into the stereotypes of first ladies that are only sweet and cuddly? Is Michelle going to quit giving her husband the fist-bump because it comes across as too strong? Does Cindy have to submit any more of ‘her’ cookie recipes so people can relate to her?

Media stories breathlessly ask:

‘Where do they buy their clothes?’

‘What types of food do they cook?’

‘Which one can be compared to Jackie O?’

WE GET IT. They are wives and mothers. But guess what? Both are highly accomplished and intelligent women and are other things too.

Honestly. What year is this? We are moving backward faster than we are progressing. Michelle Obama can be an accomplished, intelligent woman and still have the “softer side” that the media seeks; she shouldn’t have to apologize for the former in order to highlight the latter. We must value both equally.

The National Organization for Women has compiled examples of sexist media coverage and invites you to rate the misogyny.

NOW’s Media Hall of Shame is a collection of some of the worst offenders from this season’s election coverage, including TV, radio, print, web and even political cartoons. We want to know what YOU think — rank these “Shamers” on a sexism scale of one thumb down (least offensive) to five thumbs down (most offensive). The top offenders of the Media Hall of Shame will be dis-honored at the National NOW Conference in July.

This is a nice resource in case you run across someone who insists that sexism wasn’t an issue in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Dare that person to watch this collection and then talk to you about media bias.

Much like Hillary Clinton was referred to as “ambitious,” Barack Obama is being called “arrogant.” Both are meant to call them “uppity,” suggesting that they don’t know their place in the traditional order of things.

The Commenter Formerly Known as NCSteve points out that the term “arrogant” is really two coded messages for the price of one.

But ol’ Karl, he’s a clever little piggie. (And, hey, no one’s more convinced of Karl’s cleverness than Karl himself.) Why shoot one irritating barb into the the flesh of the angry working class white guys when you can fire two? “Arrogant,” you see, has two coded meanings. Use it in connection with a black man and it means “uppity.” Use it in connection with anyone, however, and it means “smart.”

Read the whole article here.

Check out this great article at The Nation, “Loving John McCain,” exposing the untruth behind the “the maverick” image in the mainstream media.

Here’s an except that sums it up nicely:

Let’s take a moment to sum up: the anti-torture candidate supports torture. The pro-immigration candidate opposes immigration. The candidate who opposes tax cuts for the rich supports them. The pro-campaign finance reform candidate has a campaign that is run almost exclusively by lobbyists, and exploits loopholes in the law to skirt spending limits–even the laws the candidate wrote. The candidate who opposes “agents of intolerance” in the Republican Party embraces them. The candidate with the foreign policy experience frequently confuses Sunnis and Shiites and misreads Iranian influence in the region, but is proposing permanent war. The candidate who claims to be a fiscal conservative wants to bust the budget. The candidate who claims to take global warming seriously does not want to take any serious action to address it.

(Read the full article here)

A recent poll by Peter D. Hart Research, commissioned by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, found that Planned Parenthood is a trusted messenger and 65 percent of women in battleground states view Planned Parenthood positively, well ahead of other issue advocacy groups that engage in communication during election season.

The same Hart Research poll found that women do not know much about McCain’s record on women’s health. In fact, 51 percent of women surveyed said they do not know McCain’s position on choice.

McCain’s Out-of-Touch Record on Women’s Health

Since he’s been in Washington during the past 25 years, Senator McCain has consistently voted against women’s health. From opposing funding for family planning programs to voting against requiring insurance coverage of birth control, McCain has taken extreme positions against women’s health and has not supported legislation that would help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion. This has earned him a zero rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lowest rating possible in the U.S. Senate. Just as alarming, John McCain wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, potentially putting the lives and health of women in jeopardy (Planned Parenthood Action Fund).

Inform yourself and spread the word (The Truth About John McCain).

Obama is campaigning with Hillary Clinton tonight, reminding women that he supports equal pay. That’s an issue he should continue to press, considering John McCain didn’t bother to show up for the vote on the Equal Pay Act. McCain claims that women need more education and training, not equal pay, and insists he would have voted against the Act because he believes it would encourage frivolous lawsuits.

A young woman challenged McCain on the issue when he tried to put her on the spot.  He later laughed about equality for women on the Daily Show.

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