Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sexism at 7:00

While she was in Israel, Katie Couric did an interview with Haaretz, which is slowly getting picked up by various news outlets. She made some intriguing statements and it’s best to put her words in context if we’re going to understand them:

"Unfortunately I have found out that many viewers are afraid of change," Couric wrote. "The glory days of TV news are over, and the media landscape has been dramatically changed. News is available now for everyone, everywhere, all the time, and everybody fights for the last pieces of the shrinking pie. The corporate pressure and the ratings terror are intensifying all the time, and the situation is not simple. I find myself in the last bastion of male dominance, and realizing what Hillary Clinton might have realized not long ago: that sexism in the American society is more common than racism, and certainly more acceptable or forgivable. In any case, I think my post and Hillary's race are important steps in the right direction."

Now most of you are going to read this snippet in the blogosphere: “Katie says ‘sexism is more common than racism.’” Gawker in particular has zeroed in on the kinship she’s drawn with Hillary on the gender bias issue. The right wing sees it, of course, as another example of feminists playing the victims. Meanwhile, online progressives, as usual, seem pretty content to view gender issues with the sort of passive-aggressive hypocrisy we became familiar with during the ’08 primary.

But odds are good that you won’t hear much about it from the news media, which is quietly clinging to the idea that the Murrow Boys are really just on a coffee break. While they’re away, it’s up to good housekeepers like Katie Couric to hold down the fort. Make no mistake, as the major networks lose more viewers under the age of 50, they will do anything to keep the audience they have.

That means portrayals of women as concerned wives and mothers instead of social movers and shakers. To promote that image, they’ve needed an anchor to read exactly what the teleprompter says. A few years ago, Couric might have ended up like Connie Chung. What can they do with a broadcaster who goes to NOW meetings?

1 comment:

Ann said...

My letter to the Blade, Toledo, Ohio about a cartoon showing McCain and Palin with the question"Wow, who's your nurse"

Sirs,
Do your realize how sexist that cartoon is? I'm astonished that the Blade would allow such an obvious sexist point of view. Do you have daughters? Do you realize that you are implying that because she is a woman she can only be his nurse? No matter what political view you have this is unfair and biased and unworthy of the Blade. I can only try to understand how proud the African American mother or father is at this point in American history. I'm sure they are telling their sons that they can become anything they want to be. No less for any mother of a daughter. Shame on you!
Ann Albright