Saturday, April 6, 2019

Inappropriate conduct on the campaign trail

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator with
David Bloviator on the barstool [Surely, the campaign trail? – Ed.]

There's one story dominating the Democratic primary battle: inappropriate personal contact, mostly perpetuated at the hands of old white men, although to be fair old white women are involved as well.

You can't avoid the spectacle of inappropriate and overly-personal contact no matter whether you rely on cable news gasbags, web based coverage, broadcast, or even dead tree editions.  Wherever you turn, the coverage is dominated by too-intrusive hands-on reports that most would consider no longer appropriate in the 21st Century.

While Democratic contenders like Elizabeth Warren roll out one provocative but well-thought-out policy position after another – like putting the filibuster into the grave – coverage is entirely devoted to whether white men were too hands-on their political careers or whether they were warm, wonderful, engaging gropers.

“The old white men who still dominate campaign coverage just don't get it,” complained one staffer on the Kamala Harris campaign.  “We're trying to have a nuanced discussion on what needs to be done to overcome the effects of 400 years of systematic racism in a manner that unifies the nation, and all we hear about is whether a creepy old white guy was just a lovable old grabber.”

Other staffers point out that the problem of campaign coverage that insufficiently respects personal space is far from a new problem.  “For decades reporters have had their hands all over Hillary Clinton, from whether she really could bake chocolate-chip cookies, to whether she had Vince Foster killed to cover up their affair, all the way to whether she went home alone the night of the Benghazi attack,” said one former Clinton campaign worker.

Mark Halperin, back on the campaign trail
“Sometimes I think that it's just because old white men don't get it – you don't get to intrude into questions like why Hillary didn't divorce her husband,” the campaign staffer said.  She admitted thought that old white women were part of the problem as well, citing notorious marriage expert Maureen Dowd's two decades of getting much too close and personal with the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.

Several persons close to the campaigns of the women running for the Democratic Presidential nomination including Sens. Kristen Gillebrand and Amy Klobuchar told the Spy that they are disgusted by the continuing focus on hands-on intrusive campaign coverage.  “We can't engage anyone in the media in a real discussion of our policy proposals because all they're interested is whether the men are too nice and the women too mean, ” said one highly-placed Gillebrand staffer.

“The Democrats were victimized by this coverage in the last election and it's time to speak out and say it's not OK,” she said.

Although some believe that a new and more diverse generation of political reporters will be less likely to offend by engaging in too-personal and intrusive hands-on coverage, others believe that progress in this area, as in so many others, is halting and could in fact be reversed.

They point to signs that disgusting sexual harasser and long-time empty bloviator Mark Halperin is sniffing around the media circus and claiming rehabilitation, according to Erik Wemple of The Washington Post:

Society’s ruling on Halperin’s treatment will come on a piecemeal basis. Which is to say: Who wants to put Halperin on air to discuss the candidacy of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.)? Or the candidacy of Joe Biden? Here’s what he had to say about the former vice president to Smerconish: “He’s a wonderful man, and he’s got a great family and a great life story, and he’s been a committed public servant and I have liked him personally as someone I covered for my entire career practically, but I’m here to tell you that this latest problem, I think is getting rightfully a lot of attention, but it is far from his only problem  . . ,” said Halperin, who criticized Biden’s fundraising capabilities. . . .

In other words, Halperin specializes in something that is already inundating the airwaves. The Erik Wemple Blog can’t even count the number of hot takes we’ve heard on the Biden inappropriate-touching story that we’ve heard on the cable outlets on Friday alone. Coverage of national politics is one segment of the news industry that has money, where the pipeline is roaring with young, middle-aged and old talent — none of whom, presumably, have a past filled with horrific instances of sexual harassment.

So what are any of the highly-qualified women (or even Tulsi Gabbard) running for the Democratic Presidential nomination supposed to do?  They might think of carrying a croquet mallet to ward off the depredations of pervs like Halperin. On the other hand, ladies, remember the most important thing on the campaign trail is to be likable!

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