Only NBC Notices Gloria Steinem’s Sexist Attack on Women Voters

While all three network morning shows touted Hillary Clinton’s campaign attacking Bernie Sanders supporters for “sexism,” only NBC’s Today mentioned prominent Clinton surrogate and “feminist icon” Gloria Steinem employing sexist language to attack young women supporting Sanders.

Early on NBC’s Today, correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaimed: “For Bill Clinton, the gloves are off in New Hampshire....The former president criticizing Bernie Sanders' policy proposals and his behavior in the campaign....Clinton is also going after some Sanders' supporters for using what he calls sexist language.”

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Leading off ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced: “Overnight, Bill Clinton lashes out against Bernie Sanders and his supporters.” Later, correspondent Cecilia Vega declared: “The former president unleashing on his wife's rival, accusing some Bernie Sanders supporters making offensive comments online to female Clinton's backers.”

On CBS This Morning, without any sense of irony, co-host Charlie Rose touted how concerned the former president was by women being harassed: “Former President Bill Clinton lashed out at Sanders more directly. He tied the Vermont senator to supporters who harass female Clinton voters online.”

In the 8 a.m. ET hour, Today was the only morning show to provide coverage of Steinem’s offensive comments attacking Sanders’ female supporters. Introducing a full three-minute segment on the controversy, co-host Savannah Guthrie informed viewers: “Well, feminist icon Gloria Steinem is having to back pedal this morning after she suggested over the weekend that younger women are supporting Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential race so they can meet boys. That's a quote.”

In the report that followed, correspondent Hoda Kotb noted Steinem “sparked an instant backlash” with her remarks and was caught “in the middle of a political firestorm over why more young women are not supporting Hillary Clinton.”

A soundbite ran of Steinem talking to HBO Real Time host Bill Maher and suggesting young women supporting Sanders were just interested in finding a date: “When you're young, you're thinking, you know, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.”

Kotb explained:

While Steinem laughed it off online, the comments sparked outrage, especially among Sanders' female supporters, who used the #NotHereForTheBoys. One Sanders supporter tweeting, “So, Gloria Steinem basically called women who make informed political choices bimbos. How feminist is that?” Another compared Steinem’s comments to, quote, old men who say ‘shhh politics is no place for a pretty girl.”

The group, People for Bernie, even launched an online petition demanding Steinem take back her statement, which she did address later on, on her Facebook page. Admitting she “misspoke” and apologized “For what's been misinterpreted as implying young women aren't serious in their politics.”

Here is a full transcript of Kotb’s February 8 report:

8:20 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, feminist icon Gloria Steinem is having to back pedal this morning after she suggested over the weekend that younger women are supporting Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential race so they can meet boys. That's a quote. Hoda’s here with that story. Good morning.       

HODA KOTB: Yes, this has caused quite a dust up. Call it a new political generation gap. That comment from Gloria Steinem, a leader in the feminist movement, sparked an instant backlash. Now she's saying she misspoke in an interview with HBO’s Bill Maher.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Famous Feminist Fight; Battle Over Hillary vs. Bernie Takes Strange Twist]

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem is in the middle of a political firestorm over why more young women are not supporting Hillary Clinton.

GLORIA STEINEM: They're mad about what's happening to them.

BILL MAHER: They really don't like Hillary, though. What do you think that's about? That, “Mom likes her, so I have to, you know” –  

STEINEM: First of all, I mean, she does have a huge gender gap and race gap. I mean –

MAHER: Huge.

STEINEM: Yeah, women are more for her than men are. And she has the black –

MAHER: But not the younger women. They're more for Bernie.

KOTB: Steinem, an outspoken Hillary supporter, tried to explain that women become more politically active as they get older.

STEINEM: When you're young, you're thinking, you know, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie. Or you know –  

MAHER: Ooh, now, if I said that –  

STEINEM: No, no, no.

MAHER: “Yeah, they’re for Bernie because that's where the boys are at.” You’d f*****g swat me, come on.  

KOTB: While Steinem laughed it off...

STEINEM: No, I mean, hello, how well do you know me?

KOTB: ...online, the comments sparked outrage, especially among Sanders' female supporters, who used the #NotHereForTheBoys. One Sanders supporter tweeting, “So, Gloria Steinem basically called women who make informed political choices bimbos. How feminist is that?” Another compared Steinem’s comments to, quote, old men who say ‘shhh politics is no place for a pretty girl.”

The group, People for Bernie, even launched an online petition demanding Steinem take back her statement, which she did address later on, on her Facebook page. Admitting she “misspoke” and apologized “For what's been misinterpreted as implying young women aren't serious in their politics. What I had just said on the same show was the opposite. Young women are active. Mad as hell about what's happening to them, graduating in debt, but averaging a million dollars over their lifetimes to pay it back. Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.”

According to an NBC News poll, in New Hampshire, 64% of women under 45 support Sanders. A 29 point advantage over Clinton.

MADELINE ALBRIGHT: Thank you, thank you.  

KOTB: That's not lost on the Clinton campaign. Madeline Albright, out campaigning with Clinton in New Hampshire over the weekend, had a message for women, young and old.

ALBRIGHT: And just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.

KOTB: The first female secretary of state tells NBC’s Kristen Welker how troubled she is by young women who don't understand the political struggle.

ALBRIGHT: I think we need women that are dedicated to each other, and I do think that if they would listen more to what the kinds of things that Hillary has been talking about forever, they would understand her role in this.

KOTB: Hillary Clinton did defend Albright’s comments on Meet the Press on Sunday, describing it as, quote, “a light-hearted but very pointed remark.” Albright has again used that line a bunch of times, she says it's one of her favorite sayings. But it's caused an interesting dynamic. And you also hear – sometimes if you're a layperson watching, you see like, oh, Demi Lovato’s for Hillary and Kerry Washington and Lena Dunham, and you wonder if they’re rallying the young people, but it doesn't look that way.

GUTHRIE: Well, the polls really show she’s got a deficit to make up with younger women, so we can see that’s why she’s getting a lot of those endorsers.

KOTB: Yes.

GUTHRIE: Hoda, thank you. Interesting.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC