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Tweetyitis on MSNBC

Tweety TroubleAyayay, David Shuster. I had such high hopes for you. You seemed like such a good reporter. The Firepups who covered Scooter Libby’s trial with you gave you thumbs up. So, what gives, David? Your comments to Joe Scarborough about Chris “Tweety” Matthews are all over the internet. Jamison Foser’s post at Media Matters gives some of the gory details and Digby fills it out:

SHUSTER: Just one comment about Chris Matthews. I’ve worked with him for five and a half years. I’ve been alongside him, on camera, off, good times and bad. Nobody is more gracious and has a bigger heart, and has contributed more in a positive way to our political discourse than Chris Matthews.

SCARBOROUGH: Now, let me say, let me say —

SHUSTER: And to see him have to go through this is absolutely infuriating, to see the way these groups used him for pure political gain is absolutely infuriating.

You just can’t learn some people.
Here’s the deal guys: Unlike racism, which is primarily a function of speech and cultural references, attitudes towards women are embedded in body language. You have to admit it, when a person’s body language doesn’t match what comes out of their mouth, it’s obvious. A perfect example is when Obama told Hillary that she was “likeable enough”. Not only was the reposnse tepid but he looked dismissive, did not address her directly, made no eye contact, glanced down and away from her as if she was “free to go”. She was a non-person, a subordinate to him. It was one of the most disrepectful things I have ever seen. You’d never see him treat John Kerry that way or John Edwards. But it was OK to behave that way to Hillary? That moment crystallized Obama for me. I find it hard to look at him without seeing that image in my mind.

But add to the body language a persistent pattern of dismissive language and you’ve got a real problem. Tweety can’t hide his disgust for Clinton. It’s apparent in the downturned corners of his mouth and the way he squints his beady little eyes when he talks about her but then he has to pepper his talk with all these sexist dogwhistle words.

C’mon, guys, if you want Hardball to be the equivalent of Maxim for political junkies, just say so up front. Have a disclaimer like: “The following program contains material of a sexist nature and may be offensive to viewers who have graduated to the 21st century. Viewer discretion is advised.”

In fact, make that a disclaimer for the entire network which is notorious for minimizing the role of women in the public forum. Everyone from Rutgers female basketball players to female journalists to female presidential candidates have been fair game. MSNBC advertises itself as the place for politics but then conveniently “forgets” that half of the population of this country are women. In this year, when the network has a chance to really set a standard for political journalism, it mystifies me why they are not going out of their way to actively court the female audience. We’ve got the first viable female presidential candidate in our country’s history and they think they can just continue on as if positions of power are the territory of the men’s club.

Get it straight, David, Tucker, Joe and Tweety, we don’t want to see the faux outrage because one of you is getting called on the carpet. We don’t care if you’ve done it all of your lives. Don’t do it anymore. We don’t care if it’s embedded in the very fibers of your souls. Excise it. We don’t care if it’s a habit that’s hard to break. Work on freeing yourself of it. If you don’t like the emails and the enraged calls and the complaints, stop behaving badly. Women are not going back to the days where we took advice about laundry detergent from some disembodied male voice and we’re going to vote for our own over your objections.

If you want to make amends, and there is no indication so far that you do, replace Tucker Carlson with Rachel Maddow. She’s earned it and she’d be a hell of a lot more interesting to listen to than Tucker ever was. Heck, she’d only be a token at this point but the media landscape is chock full of middle aged white guys who seem to think they represent the body politic. They don’t. So, give up Tucker and give us Rachel as a start to show your goodwill and STFU about defending the indefensible.

PS. Keith Olbermann shouldn’t get too comfortable. His relentless pursuit of everything Britney has been really getting on my nerves lately. Whatever is happening to her is pretty sad and maybe the hopelessly gay teenager was right, just leave her alone. That goes for Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Miss Teen South Carolina and any other female celebrity. It was amusing for a few seconds but you’d think that male celebrities never act like airheads. And we know you like sweet young things.

Yeah, well, so do I.

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