The issues surrounding the Democratic candidates in the 2016 election are heating up—Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are now openly clashing on issues of what constitutes progressivism, Wall Street, foreign policy, and campaign finance, among many others.
There is so much to discuss concerning the election, yet on Thursday morning, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” segment devolved into a sexist discussion of Clinton “screaming” that lasted an incomprehensible eight minutes.
Hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were joined by famed journalist Bob Woodward and NPR’s Cokie Roberts: all respectable individuals. Yet it felt more like watching a Fox News panel—somehow their comments regressed back to the sexist coverage of the 2008 election as they debated the nuances of Clinton's vocal volume.
Woodward began by declaring that, “she shouts…there’s something very unrelaxed about the way she is communicating.” Scarborough mockingly responded: “Has nobody told her that the microphone works?”
The conversation moved to questions of Clinton's trustworthiness and honesty, but Woodward steered it back to her voice, even suggesting that her loud tone demonstrates “she’s almost not comfortable with herself…self-acceptance is something that you communicate on television.”
This sort of hypothesis is a bit ridiculous. Clinton has never shown any signs of weakness in terms of “self-acceptance,” and Woodward seems to draw this conclusion from thin air. If she spoke quietly, she would most likely face the exact same criticism of being unsure of herself.
Woodward continued that, “She could make a case for herself if she would just kind of lower the temperature and…get off this screaming stuff.”
Former head of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, jumped to Clinton's defense, asking “If she were a male and she were making these kinds of speeches would she be criticized for it?” which Brzezinski dismissed as “desperate.”
Dean may not be so far off the mark. Bernie Sanders’s speeches are often given with the same volume and tone as Clinton's, yet he has been rarely criticized for “shouting” or “screaming.” Instead, he’s seen as passionate and enthusiastic.
The hosts also discussed how Clinton's “likability” in person doesn’t translate through video, which Dean also rightfully slammed. “I don’t care if she’s likable and disarming,” he said. “It’s that she’s tough as hell and she’ll make a great president.”