Accuracy in Media

Women are running for office in record numbers in this year’s midterm elections, and according to Salon, should look out for the sexism “they will inevitably face” and have a strategy for dealing with it.

Failure to do so might have cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election, the Salon piece, published Thursday.

“No serious person can doubt that sexism was an enormous factor in the 2016 election and played a major role in Clinton’s defeat,” wrote Salon’s Amanda Marcotte.

“The overhyped stories about Clinton’s emails, the ridiculous hysteria about her health and the snarky comments about her perfectly normal voice all fed stereotypes that women, especially ambitious women, are too corrupt, fragile or shrill to compete with men for power,” Marcotte wrote.

“The misogynistic undertones (or overtones) of much campaign coverage helped drive down Clinton’s lead just enough that a few districts in a few states tilted the Electoral College vote towards Trump, even as she won the popular vote by a substantial margin.”

In the part about the “overhyped emails,” Marcotte links to a story from Nate Silver, published exactly a year ago, headlined, “The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton the Election: So why won’t the media admit as much?”

Silver argued that a letter Comey sent to Congress Oct. 28, 2016, that said the FBI learned of emails that “appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” made all the difference in him becoming president.

Silver, whose 2016 predictions fell flat, said the letter wasn’t the only factor in her defeat and that other decisions – giving paid speeches to investment banks, pursuing a policy wonk approach – also played a role.

But Silver said the response to the letter caused the late shift that spelled doom for Clinton. 

“At a maximum, it might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Donald Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona,” Silver wrote. “At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so. Still, because Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College.”

Jonathan Chait, a writer for New York Magazine, believes women candidates should “pretend it’s not happening,” according to Marcotte, and bringing it up reduces them to the status of whiny victims.

“Within the ecosystem of the left, demonstrating that you have suffered harassment or microaggressions is a big win,’ he [Chait] wrote. “But among the country as a whole, the dynamic is very different.

“[It’s] understandable that some men, particularly those who must seek safe spaces when exposed to terms like ‘microaggression,’ balk at hearing women talk about sexism and would prefer them to be silent,” Marcotte wrote. “That may make it easier for men to pretend that sexism isn’t a significant problem in politics.”

“[The] candidate needs to tie her response to a broader issue that reflects voter concerns. For instance, a candidate could pivot, calling the sexism a cheap distraction from real concerns. Or she could point out that this kind of sexual attack models bad behavior for girls, or could discourage other women from running for office.”

Republicans get this even if they won’t admit it, she wrote.

“Even though comedian Michelle Wolf never actually made fun of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ looks during last weekend’s White House Correspondents Dinner, Republicans and their lapdog friends in mainstream journalism pretended they had heard sexist jokes anyway.”

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