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Women for President

Media Bias in Nine Campaigns

Erica Falk

Publication Year: 2010

Newly updated to examine Hillary Clinton's formidable 2008 presidential campaign, Women for President analyzes the gender bias the media has demonstrated in covering women candidates since the first woman ran for America's highest office in 1872. Tracing the campaigns of nine women who ran for president through 2008--Victoria Woodhull, Belva Lockwood, Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm, Patricia Schroeder, Lenora Fulani, Elizabeth Dole, Carol Moseley Braun, and Hillary Clinton--Erika Falk finds little progress in the fair treatment of women candidates. The press portrays female candidates as unviable, unnatural, and incompetent, and often ignores or belittles women instead of reporting their ideas and intent. This thorough comparison of men's and women's campaigns reveals a worrisome trend of sexism in press coverage--a trend that still persists today.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-11

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pp. 1-16

...In January 2007, Senator Hillary Clinton declared her intention to seek the White House and in doing so entered the race as a front-runner for the Democratic Party nomination. A December 2006 poll by the Gallup Organization reported that respondents named Senator Clinton most often (33 percent) as their choice for the Democratic nomination. ...

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1. Why Worry about the Press?

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pp. 17-30

...The notion of politically correct speech has been soundly condemned in the popular press, radio talk shows, and informal gatherings. The idea that the words we choose and the language we use might have a substantial impact on the way we perceive the world, think, and even act is often rejected as a ludicrous proposition that any thinking person can easily dismiss. There is, however, a large body of evidence from social science demonstrating that, counter to popular conception, the world ...

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2. Unnatural, Incapable, and Unviable

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pp. 31-51

...So now women think they are capable of holding the highest office in the land. It’s bad enough that we allow these female creatures to operate automobiles. Imagine what would happen if one of them became president! Let’s keep the women at home where they belong” (Krasner 1964). This opinion, expressed in a letter to the editor during Margaret Chase Smith’s campaign for the presidency in 1964, is just one of many articulating the idea that women do not belong in the political ...

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3. Baking Muffins and Bombing Countries

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pp. 52-82

...In 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was running for vice president on the Democratic Party ticket, she was asked by Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Jim Buck Ross, “Can you bake a blueberry muffin?” (Braden 1996, 109). On Meet the Press, she was asked, “Do you think that in any way the Soviets might be tempted to take advantage of you simply because you are a woman?” (Jamieson 1995, 107), and “Are you strong enough to push the button?” (Cohn 2002, 18). Over twenty years earlier...

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4. High-Heeled Boots and Violet Suits

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pp. 83-100

...In 1980 a (man) reporter for the New York Times Sunday Magazine wrote a story about three candidates for Democratic senator in the New York State primary. Two were women (Representative Elizabeth Holtzman and former New York City Consumer Affairs Commissioner Bess Myerson). In it he noted, Miss Holtzman was dining in a Chinese restaurant on the East Side, and she was wearing a cardigan sweater over a blouse with a round collar. It is difficult to imagine her wearing a plunging neckline or a skirt slit to the thigh. Miss ...

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5. Do Newspapers Give Equal Coverage to Men and Women Presidential Candidates?

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pp. 101-115

...I thought that perhaps the press would have simply ignored the candidates and there would be no data to analyze. That proved not to be the case; the press does write about women candidates. However, I still found an interesting story in the amount of coverage that women received as compared to equivalent men. The papers wrote fewer stories and fewer words per story about women than they did about men who had similar credentials and polled about the same. On average the men had about twice as many articles written about them and the articles were 7 percent longer...

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6. Issues, Biography, and Chaff

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pp. 116-138

...A number of recent studies have shown that election coverage often lacks the kind of substantive political discussion people need to make informed decisions. Rather than reporting on the candidates’ positions on the issues or the experience they bring to a job, news accounts are far more likely to reduce an election to a game, telling voters who is ahead or behind or reporting on the candidates’ strategies or movements (e.g., King 1990; Patterson 1991). In short, the media tend ...

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7. Is America Ready?

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pp. 139-150

...For as long as women have aspired to the Oval Office, citizens, pollsters, and reporters have argued that America is not ready for a woman president. When the first widely known woman candidate for president, Victoria Woodhull, declared her intention to run in 1870, the newspapers noted, “She is rather in advance of her time. The public mind is not yet educated to the pitch of universal woman’s rights” (“Woman’s Idea of Government” 1870). Such an attitude may seem uninteresting ...

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8. Eighteen Million Cracks but Still Intact

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pp. 151-182

...On January 7, 2008, at the height of the Democratic primary campaign, two telling events happened to Senator Hillary Clinton. In Salem, New Hampshire, at a routine campaign rally, two men stood, holding signs, and chanted, “Iron my shirt! Iron my shirt!” The incident went mostly ignored by the press. In the Lexis-Nexis database of major U.S. and world English-language publications for the seven days that followed the event, only thirty-five articles mentioned the attack...

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pp. 183-194

...During the mid-1800s, when Victoria Woodhull first considered running for the presidency, women could not vote and had not held state or national office. It was difficult for women to act politically at all. Walking door to door without a husband or escort was considered unwomanly, and women who engaged in this type of political activism often encountered ...


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pp. 195-200


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pp. 201-206


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pp. 207-212

Author Bio, Production Notes

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pp. 213-214

E-ISBN-13: 9780252096051
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252076916

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2010