Steinem: ‘Regressed’ Male Reporters ‘Threatened’ by ‘Powerful’ Hillary

During an interview with Yahoo News anchor Katie Couric on Wednesday, left-wing feminist and staunch Hillary Clinton supporter Gloria Steinem portrayed the Democratic nominee as the victim of a hostile and sexist press corps: “...the other thing I notice, especially with men in press and so on, is that when they see a powerful woman...I think they feel regressed because the last time they saw one, they were ten. And so, they feel threatened without being conscious of it I think.”

The comment was prompted by Couric wondering: “I interviewed [New York Magazine’s] Rebecca Traister not long ago....And she said to me, throughout history...when women are criticized, it’s often sort of this calculating, deceptive, dishonest moniker that seems to attach itself to them and affect their sort of public persona. And do you think that’s true from a historical point of view? That this has been sort of a way to marginalize women?”

Moments later, Couric briefly challenged Steinem on Clinton’s e-mail scandal: “...you know, certainly Hillary Clinton has been dogged by this e-mail scandal and her choices and her judgment. Is there anything about that, that gives you pause at all?” Steinem replied: “No. I mean, you know, she – there are thousands and thousands of e-mails....If anything, she’s apologized too much, I think.”

Near the end of the half-hour long discussion, Couric fretted that “it’s only a matter of time before Donald Trump really hits below the belt, brings up Monica Lewinsky.” She worried: “...there’s already been a pretty blistering attack ad against Hillary Clinton featuring accusations of sexual assault against President Clinton. What do you think about raising this issue in the course of this campaign? Is it a legitimate thing to focus on?”

Predictably, Steinem dismissed the issue:

...the point of sexual harassment law is to be against any force or coercion, it is not against welcome sex. And I am so grateful and proud of Monica Lewinsky because she resisted, at a young age, incredible pressure from FBI agents who cornered her – you know, incredible pressure – say that it was against her will, and she never, never said that. Said, “No, I was there because I wanted to be.” So that is not sexual harassment.

She conveniently glossed over Bill Clinton’s long list of other accusers.

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Couric followed up: “I’m assuming you don’t think it’s a legitimate issue to raise at all in the course of this campaign?” Steinem declared: “Well, I’m sure, you know, it will get raised, but it makes no sense. It has nothing to do with anything that we need in the White House.”

In addition to rushing to Clinton’s defense, Steinem jumped at the chance to repeatedly bash Republican nominee Donald Trump as a “bully” promoting “hate.” When Couric asked about GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway becoming the first woman to manage a Republican presidential campaign, Steinem ranted: “It’s like seeing an anti-Semitic candidate being managed by a Jewish person. It’s not heartening at all. I can’t imagine why she’s doing it.”

Here are excerpts from the August 17 exchange:

Yahoo News
08/17/16

KATIE COURIC: When you saw Hillary Clinton at that convention in Philadelphia accepting her party’s nomination, did you take a moment and say, “Wow”?

GLORIA STEINEM: Yeah, no, I thought it was an immensely moving convention. And it really introduced people to Hillary in a very personal way.

(...)

COURIC: She still has a lot of challenges in terms of her public perception, as you well know. I think only 11% in a very recent poll of respondents thought she was trustworthy. I think only 16% thought Donald Trump was trustworthy. So –

STEINEM: No, but that’s – I mean, Trump, as we know from his first and longest wife Ivana, believes in “the big lie,” as she said in her divorce papers in Vanity Fair. So he tells big lies and believes that people will ultimately accept them. So he talks about “crooked Hillary,” “untrustworthy Hillary.” Actually, all the fact-checking services show that she is the most trustworthy and the most accurate of all the candidates. But she has this guy, this bully kind of constantly calling her crooked.

COURIC: But it seems to me she was dogged by sort of that notion even before Donald Trump started harping on this hashtag, if you will.

STEINEM: Well, but not when she’s in office though. I mean, if you look at the polls, when she’s in an office, whether in the U.S. Senate or Secretary of State, she gets very high ratings. It’s when she dares to aspire to something higher and then they plummet. It’s fascinating.

COURIC: Why do think that’s so?

STEINEM: Well, I think when we’re actually doing a job, hopefully both female and male people, are doing it pretty well, but I guess women are not supposed to aspire for more. I think that’s the residual bias.

COURIC: It was interesting, I interviewed Rebecca Traister not long ago, when I did a podcast, about sort of women in power. And she’s a journalist, wrote a cover story about Hillary Clinton for New York Magazine, spent a great deal of time with her out on the campaign trail and has written two books about women in politics, one on the 2008 election. And she said to me, throughout history, women who – when women are criticized, it’s often sort of this calculating, deceptive, dishonest moniker that seems to attach itself to them and affect their sort of public persona. And do you think that’s true from a historical point of view? That this has been sort of a way to marginalize women?

STEINEM: Well, that’s interesting. I think that the idea of a woman’s role is so big in our childhoods because most of us have been raised by women as small children and we associate female power with childhood. So that is so big that the – or so deep – that the idea of aspiring to something else maybe per se makes women untrustworthy.

COURIC: Mmm.

STEINEM: Well, but also the other thing I notice, especially with men in press and so on, is that when they see a powerful woman – I’m not saying it’s conscious – but I think they feel regressed because the last time they saw one, they were ten. And so, they feel threatened without being conscious of it I think.

COURIC: Having said that, is there anything, you know – you know, certainly Hillary Clinton has been dogged by this e-mail scandal and her choices and her judgment. Is there anything about that, that gives you pause at all?

STEINEM: No. I mean, you know, she – there are thousands and thousands of e-mails. The system of categorizing was not in place at the time that she was looking at – think of our own e-mails. You know, if we just personalize it, I think we will understand. And –

COURIC: But her choice of – her choice of putting –

STEINEM: If anything, she’s apologized too much, I think.

COURIC: You think?

STEINEM: Yeah.

COURIC: But I guess I – we wouldn’t be dealing – at least I wouldn’t – I can’t speak for you, but I’m assuming you wouldn’t be dealing with classified information. And I think when it comes to our e-mails, maybe we would be embarrassed by them, but –

STEINEM: But as I – as, you know, she was grilled by Congress for how many hours, you know? And the result was that people who sent her e-mails may not have marked them as classified and indeed the systems of classification have changed. But you know, she wasn’t looking at an e-mail that said “classified” at the top. And that may be fault of the people who sent them.

COURIC: But even James Comey said it was “extremely careless.” And of course when you’re –

STEINEM: What do you mean “even”?

COURIC: Well, you know, James Comey, right?

STEINEM: Well, I know, but he – you know, he has to – I don’t know. I don’t think that’s a great –

COURIC: But it doesn’t bother you?   
                                
STEINEM: No, it doesn’t. Not at all.

(...)

COURIC: You know, you talked about in 2008 when you endorsed Hillary Clinton, you wrote, “There is still no ‘right’ way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.” Eight years later, have things gotten better?
        
STEINEM: I don’t know, but I’ve figured out what to say when they call you a you-know-what.

COURIC: What?

STEINEM: Thank you.    

(...)

COURIC: It’s interesting that Hillary Clinton did not speak of her gender very much in 2008 and now has embraced it fully.

STEINEM: Yeah, I thought that was a mistake.

COURIC: In 2008? And you –

STEINEM: Or not a mistake, exactly, but an absence.

COURIC: Right.

STEINEM: A missed opportunity.

COURIC: A missed opportunity. So and now you think this is sort of the right way to be?
                    
STEINEM: Yes. But we must always remember it is not identity politics.  

(...)

STEINEM: This is what’s extraordinary, I think, every time I have known a Hillary hater and I’ve been able to bring that person into Hillary’s presence – say in a living room discussion – they’ve changed.

COURIC: How – why don’t you think more people feel that way in terms of her public persona versus her private persona?

STEINEM: Well, they haven’t been in the living room with her, so they may be seeing her as a woman or a institution rather than Hillary.

COURIC: Than a human being.

(...)

COURIC: But now she of course has come over to Bernie Sanders’ way of thinking on a number of issues. Do you think he was good for the campaign?

STEINEM: Yes. Yeah, no, I do. I think that he – he was – you know, he showed the deep support for issues of economic justice, especially. And he allowed, therefore, Hillary to move where her heart is.

COURIC: Why do you think more people aren’t sort of enthusiastically embracing public service and going into politics? Because I think there are some people out there who are not excited about their choices this go-round and sort of bemoan what they see as a dearth of really good candidates out there. And I’m curious to get your view on that and how can more people be encouraged to do this and what’s keeping them?

STEINEM: Well, first of all, you take a lot of punishment. I mean, look what’s happening to Hillary. So, and that’s true in real life.

(...)

COURIC: And conventional wisdom among political pundits – I know I’m jumping all over the place – is that it’s only a matter of time before Donald Trump really hits below the belt, brings up Monica Lewinsky. And there’s always been – there’s already been a pretty blistering attack ad against Hillary Clinton featuring accusations of sexual assault against President Clinton. What do you think about raising this issue in the course of this campaign? Is it a legitimate thing to focus on?

STEINEM: To the best of my knowledge and memory – [audio cut out] – you know, sexual harrassment law, because it’s very important for women, and the point of sexual harassment law is to be against any force or coercion, it is not against welcome sex. And I am so grateful and proud of Monica Lewinsky because she resisted, at a young age, incredible pressure from FBI agents who cornered her – you know, incredible pressure – say that it was against her will, and she never, never said that. Said, “No, I was there because I wanted to be.” So that is not sexual harassment.

COURIC: So – and I’m assuming you don’t think it’s a legitimate issue to raise at all in the course of this campaign?

STEINEM: Well, I’m sure, you know, it will get raised, but it makes no sense. It has nothing to do with anything that we need in the White House.         

(...)

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