I was trying to explain Hillary Derangement Syndrome to a younger friend last week, but Michael Tomasky put it all together today in the article below. A problem he doesn’t mention, however, is that most of the not-obviously-partisan “news anchors,” pundits, reporters, and editors, never mind current voters, either came of age along about 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected, or were even younger. They grew up during a time when the 20+ investigations (that have found nothing Hillary Clinton did wrong) were going on and while HRC was routinely being vilified in the press, regardless of the fact that none of these investigations resulted in a finding of wrongdoing. A Clinton “scandal” was always in the ether.
It’s only natural to assume that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Sometimes, however, there’s only a smoke machine — and few of us have the time to look behind the curtain. It’s easier to just accept the common wisdom uncritically.
Like Tomasky, I’m not saying that HRC has been flawless; she certainly hasn’t been. But I’m with him in believing that a large part of the sinister shadow that obscures HRC even today is due to her being a forthright feminist — an educated, opinionated, high-earning, smart woman professional — at a time when to be that was (and still is) very threatening.
Media treatment of Clinton during this election reminds me of an experience I had in law school along about 1986, just six years before Bill Clinton’s first election and HRC’s first appearance on the national stage (not counting her 1969 graduation speech at Wellesley). A couple of my second-year classmates on Law Review had nominated me to be editor in chief. Only the outgoing third-years, mostly male, could vote for the incoming EIC, and I soon learned that several were vehemently opposed to me. Because they had had very little contact with me, I found that surprising.
One of the third years with whom I’d had a couple of classes took it upon himself to explain why there was such opposition to my candidacy.
“You talk in class,” he said, “and you’re usually right.” You’d think that would be a plus, I said. He tried again, this 25-year-old law student mansplaining to a 38-year-old former newspaper reporter and political science professor. “See,” he said, “the problem is, you and I could never have anything together because I don’t want my girl to outshine me.”
That young man would be about 55 today, the same age as Pence and Kaine, the same age as Lauer and Holt, the same age as many of the other “sages,” male and female, from whom we get our news and opinion: Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, and all the pretty boys and girls of cable news, Maureen Dowd, Chris Cilizza, and on and on and on. I suspect many of them have led unexamined lives, never looking behind the curtain and never imagining that they might have biases that shape how they cover Clinton (not to mention Black Lives Matter and other social issues). I don’t think they realize that their perception of Clinton is deeply distorted by all that’s been visited on her and by all that she is. I suspect they believe that they’re unbiased, that they’re journalistically neutral.
I also think that you can’t be unbiased when you’re blind to your biases or if you know you might have them but are unwilling to examine them. Clinton deserves better. And when we’re relying on the news media to help us decide who should be the next President, so do we all.
Here’s Tomasky’s article: