In criticizing liberals for purported sexism, conservative media figures have engaged in their own

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN & ANDREW WALZER

During the weeks following Sen. John McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, in the course of accusing Democrats, progressives, feminists, Alaska politicians, the media, and others of sexism in their treatment of Palin, several conservative media have themselves engaged in sexism.

Examples include:

  • On the September 16 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh said of the investigation into Palin's dismissal of Alaska public safety commissioner Walter Monegan: "I'll tell you what this Troopergate's all about. I'm going to tell you exactly what it's all about. It's about the good ol' boys of Alaska being upset that a woman had upset the apple cart, got rid of [former Gov. Frank] Murkowski, got rid of the other Republican opponent in the primary. This is all about the good ol' boys of Alaska saying, 'We're not going to sit here and be run by a damn woman. We're going to take care of it. We're going to take this woman -- ' That's all this is." Limbaugh went on to say: "This is pure sexism in Alaska on the part of these old boys trying to get rid of Sarah Palin, and she didn't put up with it, and she didn't bend over and let them have their way."
  • Two days after characterizing the media's coverage of Palin as the result of "the deep sexism that runs through our society," Fox News contributor Dick Morris said on the September 4 edition of Neal Boortz's nationally syndicated radio show, "[W]hen a woman wants to attack, it's hard because she's seen as strident or shrill." Referring to Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention the previous day, Morris added: "[Sen.] Hillary [Clinton] has that problem perhaps because she is strident and shrill. But Sarah did it very pleasantly, and it was a wonderful model." Similarly, in his September 4 New York Post column, Morris wrote of Palin's speech: "Many women look bad when they attack their opponents, too often seeming strident and shrill. But Palin was funny and irreverant [sic], with a biting wit and a joy of combat that was exhilarating to watch."

As Media Matters for America noted, Morris asserted on August 27 that Sen. Joe Biden "only got into the [presidential] race this time because of a menopausal midlife crisis." During the September 3 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart -- after playing video of Morris, in a conversation with Sean Hannity at the Republican National Convention, decrying sexism that he said has been directed at Palin -- highlighted a statement by Morris on the November 5, 2007, edition of Hannity & Colmes: "When a woman wants to be president, she shouldn't complain based on gender," and, "This is what Hillary Clinton always does -- whenever she gets under fire, she retreats behind the apron strings."

  • On the September 15 broadcast of Clear Channel's The War Room with Quinn & Rose, co-host Jim Quinn stated: "Feminists have argued for decades that womanhood is an existential and metaphysical state of enlightenment, but they have no problem questioning whether women they hate are really women at all." He continued: "Since we know from basic science that Palin is a woman -- after all, she's had five kids, for starters -- it's clear that these ideological thugs aren't talking about actual, I mean, you know, facts or anything, they're just doing what people of totalitarian mindsets always do -- they bully heretics, they demonize enemies, and they whip the troops into line." He later added: "If you don't agree with the feminist scolds, then you're not a real woman -- even if you are a very feminine working mom." He continued: "But even if you're an actual man, never mind a childless feminist who looks like a Bulgarian weightlifter in drag, you're a real woman solely because you nod your head like a windup clapping monkey every time you read the latest editorial from Ms. Magazine. Recall how they christened Bill Clinton as the first female president, too?" Quinn then added, "But here's the fun part. Feminists are hooked on their own Kool-Aid. They actually believe the stuff they say. The shrill, angry women that you see on MSNBC claiming to speak for all women actually believe that they do."

As Media Matters has noted, Quinn has repeatedly referred to the National Organization for Women as "the National Organization for Whores." He has defended himself, saying: "Now, there's the question of referring to the National Organization for Women as the National Organization for Whores. There is a reason for that. The reason is that's just what they are. They're political whores. They are whores for liberalism in general. You can see -- I mean, just take a look at how they dealt with Sarah Palin for the past couple of days." Media Matters also noted that on the August 27 edition of the show, Quinn introduced a segment on Clinton by saying, "By the way, that brings us to our Hillary Heads-Up," and then playing audio of the Elton John song "The Bitch Is Back." Quinn then said, "I was going to play 'Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.' But you know what, I -- you never know with the Clintons."

  • In addition to Quinn's accusations against NOW, Quinn & Rose co-host Rose Tennent has accused Sen. Barack Obama himself of sexism without acknowledging Quinn's sexist comments. Media Matters noted that on the September 10 broadcast of the show, Tennent called Obama a "chauvinist pig" and aired Obama's remark regarding Sen. John McCain's policies, "[Y]ou can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig," and baselessly claimed it was directed at Palin, stating: "I was so offended by that. I was so appalled by that. No, I know they're talking about the policy. But, let me tell you, that was deliberate. And -- because it was, you know, a reference to what she said about the pit bull and the lipstick." Later in the broadcast, after again airing a clip of Obama's remarks, Tennent said, referring to Obama: "You know what, you're a pig, you're a chauvinist pig is what you are, Barack. OK, you're a sexist pig. You want to talk about pigs? You're a sexist pig. I can't believe it. You know, the sexism, the ageism, is there no end to the -isms with the Democrats?"
  • On the September 4 broadcast of Sean Hannity's nationally syndicated radio show, syndicated radio host Mark Levin -- who had called into the show -- responded to the "hysterical reaction to Sarah Palin's home-run speech" at the Republican National Convention and said of NOW, "It's not the National Organization of Liberal Women. It's the National Organization of Ugly Women." Hannity replied, "Now, be nice." Moments later, Hannity stated, "Apparently Obama took a shot at me again. So I'm glad -- I guess obviously he's not too happy with the Stop Obama Express." Levin then said, "Obama's obsessed with you." Hannity replied, "It's kind of weird, isn't it?" to which Levin said, "Maybe he's attracted to you."
  • During the September 6 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mike Gallagher apparently referred to a disputed report in the Politico, saying: "The National Organization for Women act like [Palin's] a man -- she's a drag queen. I don't know that NOW -- I'm sure -- I don't think that NOW knows that she's a woman." The Politico originally reported that a spokeswoman for NOW said, "She's more a conservative man than she is a woman on women's issues. Very disappointing." It then added an "Editors note" to the article that stated: "NOW President Kim Gandy disputes this comment, contending it is inaccurate because it did not come from a spokesperson for the organization and does not reflect NOW's policy or position." Gallagher later said, "She's the ultimate feminist." Newsday columnist Ellis Henican responded: "Just because she's a woman doesn't make her a feminist." After Gallagher said, "She's a working woman. ... [S]he drives herself to work", Henican responded: "Oh, oh. You know what? My standards are a little higher than 'she drives herself to work.' " Gallagher then said: "I didn't say she drove herself to work well. She may not be a good driver. I'm just kidding. No, no, no."

From the September 6 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:

GALLAGHER: This is the problem that Ellis' side is in, because let me tell you something, women know that this is a strong woman. The National Organization for Women act like she's a man -- she's a drag queen. I don't know that NOW -- I'm sure -- I don't think that NOW knows that she's a woman. NOW is condemning her --

HENICAN: No.

GALLAGHER: -- because she's pro-life. No, no, no. The moderates are flocking to her because a lot of moderates like to see a woman who hunts, a woman who is in the PTA, a woman who has a job; a woman who has a baby --

HENICAN: Here's the only problem Mike --

GALLAGHER: -- a woman who, come on. This is wishful thinking on your part.

HENICAN: -- here's the only problem with that theory; here's the only problem with that beautiful-sounding theory. It's not true.

GALLAGHER: It is true.

HENICAN: And moderates are not flocking to her.

GALLAGHER: Baloney, baloney.

HENICAN: It's the evangelicals --

GALLAGHER: Well --

HENICAN: And the people way, way, way out at the end that are moving to her.

GALLAGHER: We'll know November 5th if it is true or not. Don't go by these silly polls, who knows? November 5th, we'll see.

BROWN: Well, these Democrats though, they, they're kind of between a rock and a hard place because --

ELLIS: What do you mean?

BROWN: -- a lot of those women are feminists, and they're attacking her for trying to work and --

GALLAGHER: Ellis, Ellis, explain this to me, explain this to me --

HENICAN: Nothing, nothing, nothing --

GALLAGHER: She's the ultimate feminist.

HENICAN: No.

GALLAGHER: She's a feminist.

HENICAN: No. Come on.

GALLAGHER: She is.

HENICAN: Just because she's a woman doesn't make her a feminist.

GALLAGHER: No, no. She's a working woman, she's self-sufficient --

HENICAN: Against, against

GALLAGHER:-- she drives herself to work.

HENICAN: Oh, oh. You know what? My standards are a little higher than "she drives herself to work."

GALLAGHER: I didn't say she drove herself to work well. She may not be a good driver. I'm just kidding. No, no, no.

HENICAN: Very sexist, Gallagher.

BROWN: Oh my.

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