The Women’s Media Center celebrated the end of election season on Thursday by giving out awards for sexist coverage of female politicians through WMC’s “Name It. Change It.” project. Sadly, there was no red carpet for the awards ceremony (which happened during a webinar presented by WMC president Julie Burton, That She Should Run foundation CEO and president Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, WMC communications manager Rachel Larris, and Lake Research Partners president Celinda Lake) so I can’t dish on how pretty everyone looked in their awards show get-ups:
Most sexist insult: Goes to Fox News’s The Five anchors Greg Gutfeld and Kimberly Guilfoyle for repeatedly calling Florida congresswoman/DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz “Frizzilla.” Clips were shown of both anchors using the term and then smiling in a way that would suggest that they thought they were very clever to criticize a woman’s hairstyle.
Most sexist debate question: Moderator and Capital Tonight host Liz Benjamin, noticing that both New York senate candidates happened to be female, just had to ask them if they’d read 50 Shades of Grey yet. They said no. Candidate Wendy Long later said the question was “out of left field, out of touch, and outlandishly sexist.” She forgot to say “ridiculous” and “totally irrelevant to the candidates’ abilities to do the job.”
Most sexist opinion columnist: Boston Herald’s Howie Carr, who repeatedly called US senate candidate Elizabeth Warren “Granny.” The Herald is still doing this. According to her official website, Warren is a grandmother of three. She is also, now, a Senator.
Most sexist interview question: This honor is shared by Chicago Sun-Times’s Dave McKinney, Fran Spielman, and Natasha Korecki, who co-wrote this interview with Illinois governor candidate Lisa Madigan where she was asked if she could handle the job of governor while being a mother to her two young children. Her response: “Wow. Does anybody ever ask that question?” Apparently, the Sun-Times does. Repeatedly.
Award for creating sexist standards for women in politics: The Huffington Post seems like an odd choice here, as it was founded by a woman, has a “Women’s Rights” vertical, and its political editor, Sam Stein, has defended women’s health issues in the past.
But Name It. Change It. gave HuffPo the prize based on its reports on female politicians’ dress styles in its “Fashion Whip” column, co-written by Christina Wilkie and Lauren A. Rothman. (It now appears to be written by just Rothman, who recently wrote about the male presidential candidates’ sartorial choices.) Singled out for non-praise was a clip of the women discussing then-candidate Michele Bachmann’s wardrobe and saying she should lower the neckline to attract more voters. HuffPo was also criticized for reporting on Hillary Clinton’s scrunchies and holding a caption contest for a photo of the Secretary of State with her mouth open, which allowed “several blow-job jokes to be curated together in a slideshow.”
A spokesperson for the Huffington Post gave CJR this acceptance speech/official statement: “Are we seriously being criticized for an off-hand comment by a fashion blogger on our style section?”
Update, November 10: On Friday evening, WMC sent a press release noting that HuffPo is too large a site a buttonhole as sexist and calling out specific reporters for problematic coverage. Here’s the release, in relevant part:
Some commentators expressed concern that one of our awards was given to The Huffington Post, not to specific individuals or sections of The Huffington Post.Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.
The Huffington Post indeed is a large organization with many different journalists and departments. We acknowledge that there is not media sexism directed at women candidates and politicians across all of The Huffington Post’s channels.
In fact, there are journalists with sterling credentials who cover issues of importance both to women and women in politics. Reporters Amanda Terkel and Laura Bassett bring sophistication to their work and have a deep understanding of sexist media culture. Every outlet would benefit from reporters of their caliber […]
Upon further consideration, Name It. Change It. is giving our Award For Creating Sexist Standards For Women In Politics to five “winners” at The Huffington Post. The award will now be shared by Ethan Klapper, politics social media editor at The Huffington Post Politics and Lauren Rothman, Christina Wilkie, Ellie Krupnick and Jessica Misener of Huffington Post Style for the cumulative sexist impact of their work in The Huffington Post that focused on the appearance of women in politics, rather than their policies.