A group of powerful, Democratic women has penned an open letter warning media outlets to restrict their coverage of presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate — expected to be a minority female — so as to avoid any “racism” or “sexism” in their reporting.
The lawmakers, policy professionals, activists, and consultants labeled their effort “We Have Her Back” and directed their missive to “News Division Heads, Editors in Chiefs, Bureau Chiefs, Political Directors, Editors, Producers,
Reporters, and Anchors.”
Biden is, of course, expected to name his running mate this week and he has already pledged that he will choose a woman. Most experts and political commentators believe that, because of a current focus on anti-racism, Biden will select a minority female, likely either former Obama administration United Nations ambassador Susan Rice or Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). Illinois Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth is also rumored to be a finalist.
“We are reaching out now because we are about to embark on a historic moment – once again – having a woman on a Presidential Campaign ticket. While you have already done significant reporting on the process, we know you are actively preparing for coverage about the specific Democratic Vice Presidential nominee,” the letter reads.
“Given how few women have reached this point, the sometimes disappointing coverage of the process to date and the double standards we’ve seen in the public and media expectations of women leaders over the years – and even more so for Black and Brown women leaders – we wanted to respectfully share some thoughts with you about the media’s role in the scrutiny and coverage of women and women of color candidates in general, and the vice-presidential
candidate in particular,” the letter continues.
Specifically, the women warn journalists to avoid “sexism” and “racism” by avoiding commentary on Biden’s running mate’s “ambition,” her relationships with partners and staff, her likeability, her looks (including her weight, style of dress, attractiveness, and “tone of voice”), whether the candidate is “likable” or electable, and any reporting “on the heritage of Black women or women of color” that “perpetuates a misunderstanding about who is legitimately American.”
The group also warns news organizations against using photos of the female candidate looking angry, lest they perpetuate “racist tropes that suggest unfairly that women are too emotional or irrational in their leadership.”
The letter ends with a warning that the group “intend[s] to collectively and individually monitor coverage and we will call out those we believe take our country backwards with sexist and/or racist coverage,” and offers to consult and assist those news organizations that are struggling to handle their restrictions.
The Democratic women who “have her back” includes former Obama White House senior advisor Valerie Jarratt, former president of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards, current president of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson, NARAL president Ilyse Hogan, Christina Reynolds from abortion advocacy group EMILY’s List, and Tina Tchen, a former aide to First Lady Michelle Obama who now serves as the president of Hollywood’s #MeToo group, Time’s Up.
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