Hillary Clinton had a big night on Tuesday, winning Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and her home state of Illinois. She advanced her lead to more than 300 pledged delegates—barring a total disaster an insurmountable figure for rival Bernie Sanders. Like many politicians who get excited by, well, victory she raised her voice, and apparently the collective heads of some male pundits exploded.
“Hillary having a big night in the primaries. So she's shouting angrily in her victory speech. Supporters loving it. What's she mad at?” tweeted Fox’s Brit Hume.
“Hillary shouting her speech. She has the floor; a more conversational tone might be better for connecting with folks at home,” tweeted Fox’s Howard Kurtz.
As I’ve written before, Clinton faces a sexist double standard when she gets passionate. Sanders yells and people get passionate with him. Clinton yells and people think they’re yelling at them. Perhaps it’s because our mothers tended to be the disciplinarians of the family, but most Americans are hard-wired to react negatively when a woman yells—even if she’s just yelling because, hey, she won.
Of course, candidates can go overboard with deranged yelling, which may not seem like shouting to them at the time as they're trying to yell over what is assumedly an excited roaring crowd. Just ask Howard Dean, whose presidential dreams died with his infamous scream. But Clinton’s “shouting” on stage in Florida on Tuesday night was hardly at Dean’s decibels. Indeed, she was hoarse—and more than likely exhausted—from all the speeches she’d given leading up to this night.
On the days that Barack Obama, John Kerry, John McCain or Mitt Romney—or anyone politician in recent history—essentially clinched their nominations did anyone criticize them, not for the content of their speeches, but for the tone? One got the sense her performance was being judged not only for the technical execution but for performance: like a gymnast who doesn’t flash the judges a big grin after sticking the perfect landed. What man ever got a demerit for being too serious?
Then there was the inevitable dig on her appearance. Matt Drudge tweeted this: “She can rest now. Eat. Get face stretched and filled. Have thyroid removed? All set for summer.” Because she apparently looks exhausted, gaunt, needs a face lift and … Well, I don’t know what getting a thyroid removed does to someone—gets rid of emotional highs and lows? This is problematic on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s again start with this: did these male pundits actually address the substance of Clinton’s victory and remarks tonight?
Sorry to single out the men, but I scrolled through the coverage of the mostly female reporters covering Clinton and I didn't see this kind of commentary.
This is particularly troubling given who won on Tuesday night on the other side. Donald Trump celebrated his primary victories by tweeting that Fox’s Megyn Kelly is “crazy.” The general election looks to be one giant cage match on sexism. With refs like these, Clinton may go into it at a disadvantage.
--Jay Newton-Small is the author of the recently published book, "Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works," available on amazon.com or at book stores everywhere.