MEDIA COVERAGE ANALYSIS 13
Themedia in their coverage of news and especially the politicians hasalways been sensationalized. Image and brand is everything for thesuccess of any politician and especially if the media plays aconstructive role in promoting a positive image. It is within theseprecincts that a sample of assorted media articles was done to assessthe salience of mediatized and framed images attached to HillaryClinton. By analyzing different articles in relation to the potentialof Hillary as a presidential candidate and in some part her career inpublic office, critical assessment will be done to uncover variousways in which female candidates are framed, branded, gender biasedand use of sexism in reporting aspects of their general. Whiledetails of this assessment may not be comprehensive of most mediaarticles and other media Channels coverage on such aspects as sexism,gender bias and framing, they will however, illustrate the extent towhich the media goes in sensationalizing individuals’ image. Theanalysis therefore, focuses on theoretical features of media coverageand how they have been used in covering the personality image ofHillary Clinton(Anderson, 2002).
Notabletheoretical perspectives focused on are mediatization and framing.In most media coverage and reporting, framing is a powerful tool usedto influence readers’ perspective on the issues covered. In thisrespect, framing is used by journalist through unconscious andconscious bias as a way of influencing the society perception about aparticular issue or person. Deviance from socially accepted norms andwomen issues has been the center of overrated media framing. In mostmedia coverage, stories about conflicting issues are given muchcoverage unlike issue based aspects of news(Benoit et al.2005).
Thestrategy used by many media is to create conflicting issues about aparticular personality in order to create ‘news’ or elicitcontroversial response on the targeted individual. This approach ofcreating own reality rather than a comprehensive view of a particularcandidate is what media theorist term as framing. Therefore, it isnot surprising that the media is liable for many conflicts,misunderstanding and mistrust in the government, among politiciansand even among the media. Media framing affects the way individualsare viewed by the public in most cases the image projected by themedia differs from which individuals’ wishes to project. Evidencefrom media studies indicate that media articles covering electionscampaigns rarely focus on the candidate’s policy but rather focuson candidate’s personal life and character. In addition, manyarticles are more likely to have negative depiction of candidatesrather than positive aspects (Chong& Druckman, 2007).
Genderand sexism has always been the centre of media coverage in manysocial political issues and particularly framing personalities. Theperception attached to women candidates in campaigns has always beengauged along femininity and masculinity on how they solve certaintasks as healthcare, terrorism and education problems. In most cases,media coverage of male candidates differs from that of females andtherefore, women are left to defend their legitimacy against themedia during campaigns. As such women candidates are left to decidehow to alter their communication or political debates to match withtheir male counterparts such was the situation Rodham Clinton hasfound herself in which sometimes transcended to hostility with thejournalist.
Dueto the nature of her past political background, the media wouldinclude nontraditional narratives that exhibited negative aspects ofthe lady. When Hillary Clinton run for the senate seat, the media wasall over framing her negatively as a female politician but this wascontrary to news coverage when she was the First Lady where the mediacoverage was positive and overly flattering(Chong & Druckman, 2007).Media critique argues that, when she was the president’s wife, themedia portrayed her as meddlesome, pushy and in some cases as‘bitchy’,but when she was elected for senate seat media criticism shifted toother aspects like her native status in New York (Mediamatters.org.2008).
Similarly,as she pursued her run for senate seat, she was viewed as independentthough in some cases she was framed as nonconformist by attempting tochange leadership by including ‘womenissues.’In more refined gender stereotyping, the media was afloat with herchoice of clothes (pantsuits) in comparison to Sarah Palins Skirt andhigh heels. This negative comparison resulted into more negativedepiction of the former first lady as faulting traditional feminism.In her presidential campaigns, the media was obsessed with her‘overlyambitious,cold,calculating, scary and intimidating’cliché (BostonHerald,2008).
Inreality the media has never been objective in their coverage of news,in most cases, coverage of particular aspects of individuals life issensationalized, mediatized and in some cases the media frames anindividual by associating them with issues that are sensitive totheir personality., was no exception in her presidential campaign in2008, she found herself at the center of political framing andbranding. Although this was not the first time the media covered heraspects with sensational attributes, throughout her career she hasdealt with many and often negative frames directed at her image bythe media. It is recorded that in the 1990s, she was also at thecenter of unprecedented controversial debates in the mediafraternity. Prior her presidential campaign in 2007, she had servedin other public office institutions such as serving as chair ofNational Health Care reform and as Senator for New York. After losingon nomination in 2007, Hillary was appointed as Secretary of stateafter Obama became the president in 2009(Hillary, 2010).
Inthis media coverage analysis, focus will on the various ways themedia portrayed her in the political lime light. Importantly, anassessment will be done on how the media framed her on such aspectsas gender, qualified, intelligent and favored during her tenure inoffice. The political experience of Rodham Clinton and work in publiclife are unparalleled and unique, a strong feat for a women in thepolitical limelight which maybe explained the tendency of the mediato brand, frame and sensationalize particular aspects in her career(Chong& Druckman, 2007).
Themost distinguishable feature of these media attacks was some elementsof gender bias associated with her. Fox’s Howard Kurtz, writingabout media gender bias, observed that sensationalism and gender biaswas something political figures like Rodham Clinton ‘neededto deal with’,in the article, Kurtz highlighted that Clinton wariness of the presswas well illustrated on her book ‘HardChoices’.He also noted that, the media was obsessed and focused on her asdepicted in her supporters sentiments that the media covered ‘someof the negative’ attributes about Clinton sexism. His argument wasthat the media will always be petty, unfair and sensational and assuch there was no need to keep complaining about it, ‘themedia is like weather, you cannot keep complaining about it, everycandidate have to cope with adversarial media, deal with it(Winfield, 1997).
Inmost of her political career Hillary had no choice than to ‘dealwith’ petty and baseless amount of sexist coverage by media attackson her for years which has had serious effects on women and politics.This sensational and pettiness by the media was also evident on SarahPalin presidential campaigns. In one article by WashTimes’Wesley Pruden used this article to sensationalize the gender issueson the role of Hillary as a presidential campaign contender, heclaimed that, ‘HillaryClinton age was getting past her prime date and not particularly oldfor a man’(Mediamatters.org,2008). This assertion by Wesley is just a tip in ice indicating theextent of media sexism, gender bias and outright sensationalizationin their news coverage. In the article, Wesley further added that,Hillary was getting old past her public life age and as such sheshould consider retiring from politics. This assertion, illustrateshow the media engages in political intimidation on their object ofinterest.
Inanother instance Limbaugh in his radio program illustrated his overt,petty and unwarranted obsession attack on the Hillary by comparingher aspect to Lane (an actress) who had been assigned to play therole of Clinton in the NBC special, ‘Idon`t know if she`s got the legs to pull this off, if she can fillout a pantsuit the way Hillary fills out a pantsuit’(Mediamatters.org,2008). Premiere Radio Networks, TheRush Limbaugh Show, 7/29/13.In her 2008 campaign, the media coverage of her activities was agreat source of gender sensationalization. Particular press wereobsessed with her hair style as ‘news’,others focused on her ‘cackle’and another most interesting coverage on the amount of cleavageHillary revealed while a senator. In other instances, the some mediawere overlay describing her age and possible 2016 presidentialsuccession (Falk,2007).
Ina more recent debacle the media through the conservative, had writtena sensational article in the Fox News about Hillary’s healthHillary and they challenging her respond to their claims. In anotherrecent attack the Fox News had painted an old and stale article abouther political career. MSNBC’s Chris Mathews was harsh news coveragefor Hillary mainly because he was enthusiastic of Obamas win. In oneof their program at MSNBC’s, Mathew and his co anchors wererhetoric about Hillary woes with the media they were reported sayingthat, the media coverage of Hilary made her a sympathetic loner amongfemale voters. In one morning show at MSNBC’s radio, Mathewobserved that, ‘let’snot forget…the reason she’s a U.S senator…the reason she’s isa presidential candidate, the reason she may be a front runner, isbecause her husband messed around’(Mediamatters.org.,2008). These words were meant to gender bias and frame Hillary on anegative image before her supporters. While those comments raisedcontroversial sentiments among women and other supporters of Hillary,Mathew was unperturbed and kept attacking her with negative barbs(Cappella & Jamieson, 1996).
Inanother occasion, he was recorded saying that Hillary success inpolitical career as a senator was due to her graceful handling ofMonica Lewinsky scandal, a feat which impressed leaders at of theDemocratic Party. Another controversial, presenter at MSNBC’s radio, David Shuster, had argued that in her campaign, Hillary had,‘pimpedout’ 27 year old Chelsea by having her place phone calls tocelebrities and Democratic ‘super delegates’ on her mother’sbehalf (Mediamatters.org.,2008).Althoughhe later apologized, those comments were sexist and meant tojeopardize Hillary campaigns debate. During her senate career,Hillary was fond of pant suit which was also the center of mediasensational coverage, twice in 2006, Kathryn Lopez, editor at theNational Review Online criticized Hillary for ‘showingcleavage while addressing the Senate and implored on her to bemodest’ (CNN, 2007).
Thissensational pettiness and gender bias was revisited by the WashingtonPost in 2007 which led to sections of media criticizing thelegitimacy of the topic duringClinton campaign. It is recordedthat during the campaigns, there was a flurry of unconventionalmediatization language in blogs, YouTube and in Face book wherenumerous videos were illustrated using such words as ‘HillaryClinton The bitch is back’, life is a bitch, why vote one?’(Mediamatters.org,2008).In addition to this, Bill Moyers a PBS commentator said that ‘Thereis just something about her that feels castrating, overbearing andscary’(Star-Tribune.2007).In another radio show by Rush Limbaugh referred to her as ‘thewomen with the testicle lockbox’,Carlson from MSNBC television also made similar comments ‘whenshe comes to television I involuntary close my legs’(Mediamatters.org,2008).Allthese negative comments indicate the negative gender bias coveragedirected at Hillary during her campaigns. In all these aspects therewas a strong element of sensational framing aimed to tarnish her nameand diminish her campaign support(Hallahan, 1999).
Despiteall these aspects, Hillary portrayed a unique and unperturbed image.She faced great stereotype and gender bias and defended herself as aserious contender in the presidential race. However, there were thosemedia that portrayed her image in positive light by illustrating herwith duplicitous and ambitious attributes, she epitomized ‘truewomanhood’and selflessness in fighting for the cause she believed in. In anarticle that appeared on Los Angeles Times, Meghan Daum, argued that,the portrayal of Hillary as ‘likable’was due to her gender, this was in response to what Obama had termedHilary as ‘likable enough’ after her New Hampshire victory(Newindpress.com. 2006).It is also recorded that, in 2008, Hillary backed from a cover photothat was meant to appear on Vogue magazine. Commenting on the issue,the Magazines chief editor, Ann Wintour observed her surprise‘Imaginemy amazement, then, when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our onlyfemale presidential hopeful, had decided to steer clear of our pagesat this point in her campaign for fear of looking too feminine. Thenotion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to betaken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying. How hasour culture come to this?’(Jodi,2008).
Inanother case of gender bias and sensational framing, the media madeattempts to draw comparison between the character of Hillary andSarah Palin, something that was seen as overt sexism. In an articleby the New York Times, they presented a framing comparison betweenHillary and Palin, ‘Mrs.Clinton and Ms. Palin have little in common beyond their breakoutperformances at the conventions and the soap opera aspects of theirfamily lives. Mrs. Clinton always faces high expectations Mrs. Palinfaced low expectations this week, and benefited from them. Mrs.Clinton can seem harsh when she goes on the attack Mrs. Palin hasshown a knack for attacking without seeming nasty. Mrs. Clinton has alot of experience Ms. Palin, not so much. Mrs. Clinton is pantsuitsMrs. Palin is skirt’(Mediamatters.org,2008).Whilethe comparison could have been made on a positive note, thecomparison was an insult and aimed to achieve overt sexist motives(Sullivan, 1989).
Thesesubtle attacks are what media analyst has termed as gender war onwomen politician with the aim of intimidating them. In anotherarticle, written by Erickson an editor at Washington Times,sensationally claimed that Hillary was not fit to run for publicoffice come 2016, ‘awoman in public life is getting past her sell-by date."  Idon`t know how far back they can pull her face"(Mediamatters.org,2008). These gender biases framing on Hillary by the media are notonly provoking but retrogressive especially in the United Stateswhere political rating of a political candidate depended on how themedia covers the candidate image(Devitt, 1997).
Inmost cases, the media framing of a female candidate whether positiveor negative, lowers the public perception of candidates qualificationto run political office the worst disheartening is the sexist mediaorientation. Kurtz the New Yorker columnist is historically known touse sexism in his media reporting. He was once recorded saying thatwomen were should not watch ‘hard news as men and on anotheroccasion depicted Hillary Clinton photo on New York Post as ‘kindof funny’ (HowardKurtz,2007).
Inan article written by Gail Sheehy, Vanity Fair, August 2008, arguedthat ‘Nobodyknew how to run a women as a leader of the free world’(Mediamatters.org,2008), this sentiments were echoed by CBS Evening News presenterKatie who observed that as Hillary Clinton closed her presidentialcampaign, she had received one of the most hostile and unfair mediacoverage(MSNBC.com.2007).According to her, Clinton unsuccessful bid in nomination was rootedon the negative media sexism she had received, “Likeher or not, one of the great lessons of Hillary Clinton’s campaignis the continued …and accepted….sexism in American life . . .particularly in the media”(Mediamatters.org,2008). These sentiments were shared by other feminist womensupporters who argued that the pervasiveness of sexism in mediacoverage of women was retrogressive and the media needed to stop thegendered language and engage in debatable issues. The women mediacenter were not left behind in defending sensational media coverageon Hillary Clinton, ‘callon the national broadcast news outlets (CNN, FNC, MSNBC, and NBC) tostop treating women as a joke to stop using inherently genderedlanguage as an insult or criticism and to ensure that women’svoices are present and accounted for in the national politicaldialogue”(Women’s Media Center 2008).
Mediapundits observes that, although Hillary Clinton faced negative mediacoverage during her campaign, it was a routine ‘bias’ adopted bymedia for all campaign candidates and that the situation could havebeen worsened by her troubled past with the press during herhusband’s presidency(Falk, 2007).Further arguments were that, gender politics have long history in thepresidential politics and therefore women politicians are challengedto defend their credibility and femininity in leadership andtherefore, the success of any female candidate depended on how theynavigate through negative media coverage by designing a ‘genderstrategy’. Research indicates that, the media has been responsiblefor defeat faced by many presidential candidates for both male andwomen through media routine of ‘character’ coverage which ismarked by negative portrayal of individuals(Rosenwasser & Dean, 1989).
Itis evident that media coverage on women political candidates has beenoverly biased and framing, using sensational sexist language todefine the image of the candidates character. Most media coverage hasadopted the approach of framing in shaping the personality of theirperceived subject regardless of the true character of the individual.Hillary Clinton, faced one of the most hostile, intimidating, genderbiased and sexist media coverage during her bid for presidency shewas not spared any moment every aspect of her life was fodder to theinsatiable
Mediaentities. It is recorded that, she received the most coverage duringher short campaign period any changes in clothes, hairstyle, talk oreven general appearance was the center of media debacles. The mediawas in a way ganged against her one can assert that her defeat couldbe largely attributed to the negative media coverage she received.However, she maintained a positive image all through making it toSecretary of state under President Obama first term Presidency(Carlin & Winfrey, 2009).
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