Vanity Fair: WOMEN’S GROUP WARNS MEDIA EXECS: AVOID SEXIST, RACIST COVERAGE OF BIDEN’S V.P. PICK
By Caleb Ecarma
With Joe Biden expected to announce his running mate next week, a group of influential women working in political advocacy sent a letter Friday to front-office and newsroom leaders of the nation’s top networks and newspapers urging them to avoid “stereotypes and tropes” in their coverage of the woman joining the ticket. The letter, from a new group called “We Have Her Back” and signed by NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue, EMILYs List’s Stephanie Shriock, Time’s Up’s Tina Tchen, Planned Parenthood’s Alexis McGill Johnson, former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, and many others, called on the media leaders to treat the Biden campaign’s vice-presidential choice with the “same” care that was shown during the recent Black Lives Matter protests.
“A woman VP candidate, and possibly a Black or Brown woman candidate, requires the same kind of internal consideration about systemic inequality as you undertook earlier this year,” they stated, addressing high-ranking personnel at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, and other outlets. “Anything less than full engagement in this thoughtful oversight would be a huge step backwards for the progress you have pledged to make to expand diversity of thought and opportunity in your newsrooms and in your coverage,” continued the letter. “Women have been subject to stereotypes and tropes about qualifications, leadership, looks, relationships, and experience. Those stereotypes are often amplified and weaponized for Black and Brown women. Attempts at legitimate investigations of a candidate have repeatedly turned into misguided stories that perpetuate impressions of women as inadequate leaders, and Black and Brown women as worse.”
The group listed examples of past coverage failures of women in politics, including reporting on their personal and professional relationships with a different tone than when covering male politicians, framing a woman’s election chances by questioning her “likeability,” and covering a woman’s “looks, weight, tone of voice, attractiveness, and hair.” The letter concluded by insisting that avoiding such sexist or unfair coverage will be an imperative part of the media’s “job to, not just pay attention to these stereotypes, but to actively work to be anti-racist and anti-sexist in your coverage (i.e.: equal) as this political season progresses and this Presidential ticket is introduced.”
Senator Kamala Harris and former national security adviser Susan Rice have reportedly emerged as front-runners in the vice-presidential search that has been said to also include Senator Tammy Duckworth, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, and representatives Val Demings and Karen Bass.