I read this article by Kirsten Powers on the Daily Beast. It’s being circulated on the internet by conservatives in response to the uproar over Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut. Powers’ premise is that it’s hypocritical for the left to call for boycotts of Limbaugh for his sexism when she can cite sexist comments by left leaning pundits like Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Ed Schultz, Bill Maher, and Matt Taibbi.
Surprisingly, I don’t entirely disagree. I do give Bill Maher something of a pass, because rightly or wrongly, I think of him primarily as a comedian. Howard Stern is way to the right of me and I give him a pass as well because his sexism, racism and homophobia are at least funny. I also think it’s a stretch when Powers cites Matt Taibbi calling Michelle Bachmann “bat-shit crazy” as proof of sexism. There’s nothing gender specific about “bat-shit crazy,” so it’s only sexist if all things being equal, he wouldn’t use the same language about a man. Anyone who followed Taibbi’s coverage of the Bush administration or John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign would agree that there’s nothing unique in his treatment of Bachmann.
As far as Powers’ criticism of the Matthews, Olbermann and Schultz, well, I’m the last guy to defend them. Anyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter probably knows how useless I think the non-Rachel Maddow line-up at MSNBC is. Although, I will say, there is one glaring omission in Powers’ article. All the examples of sexism that she points to by left leaning pundits, indefensible as most of it is, is directed at politicians or other pundits: Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Michelle Malkin, etc. Not exactly shrinking violets, these ladies; all of them entered political and public life of their own free will, all must have known that taking slings and arrows came with the job and all have thrown their own jabs at their political opponents. You won’t have to look hard to find equally inflammatory remarks from right wing pundits against Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama or Rachel Maddow. Lou Dobbs once called Maddow a “tea-bagging queen, “whatever that means.