One year after doling out a campaign's worth of sexist Hillary Clinton coverage, some journalists can't quit the habit.
The editors at Vanity Fair magazine offered the latest proof that a lot of journalists didn’t learn any lessons from the relentlessly condescending and sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton’s historic presidential candidacy.
But their effort to mock and talk down to the former first lady, secretary of state, and first woman nominated by a major party for the presidency ended quite badly for them this week.
The outlet published a snarky and sneering video on Tuesday featuring editors and writers holding champagne flutes to toast in the New Year while telling Clinton to get out of politics.
Or as the Washington Post put it: “Vanity Fair staffers provide snotty, condescending life tips for Hillary Clinton.”
“Take up a new hobby in the new year,” suggested one staffer to Clinton. “Volunteer work, knitting, improv comedy, literally anything that will keep you from running again.”
Note: there’s not a single person connected to American politics who thinks Clinton is likely to run again in 2020, in part because she has emphatically and unequivocally announced she won’t run.
So the whole idea that Vanity Fair staffers have to convince Clinton not to run for the White House again, to talk her down from her ambitious ways, is pointless and dopey.
And the whole misguided mess was immediately dragged:
I don't often swear on Twitter, but um, fuck off. This is seriously a video telling the former U.S. Secretary of State to take up knitting. https://t.co/cELDKdVmYd
— Summer Brennan (@summerbrennan) December 26, 2017
Vanity Fair guy 1: 2017 has been rough for women. How can we end the year on a positive note?
VF guy 2: Maybe a video about how the woman who came closer to being president than any woman in history should stop talking and start knitting?
VF guy 1: (kisses fingertips)
— OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) December 27, 2017
This is really pathetic. You should be embarrassed.
— Jordan Horowitz (@jehorowitz) December 26, 2017
Soon the hash tag #CancelVanityFair began trending on Twitter, as more and more readers took the magazine to task for its childish and crass stunt.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Vanity Fair emailed the Washington Post with the lame excuse that the video “was an attempt at humor and we regret that it missed the mark.”
Of course, the context for the tasteless swipe is that much of the press spent most of 2016 wallowing in bouts of sexist coverage and holding Clinton to an entirely different standard than her male counterpart.
The press also steadfastly refused to cover the substance of Clinton’s campaign, instead focusing on gotcha email stories and snarky analysis that depicted her as phony, unlikeable, calculating politician. Many journalists also worked hard to ignore her legion of women supporters.
Over many years, there has developed an almost open contempt for Clinton from the press corps. There was even media talk during the campaign last year about how journalists were primed to “take down” her historic run.
So no, posting a video where young Vanity Fair staffers — who weren’t even born when Clinton was founding a rape crisis hotline in Arkansas in the 1970s — mock the former first lady, telling her take up knitting, doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
It springs from a deep wellspring of sexist attitudes about powerful women in America.
And people are sick of it.