Coalition of women's groups call out 'sexist' coverage of 2020 race

Coalition of women's groups call out 'sexist' coverage of 2020 race
© Greg Nash - Stefani Reynolds

A coalition of women’s rights and advocacy groups decried what they say is sexist coverage of the 2020 presidential race and called on media outlets to take steps to remedy the issues.

The groups, which include EMILY’s List, She the People, the National Organization for Women, Color of Change and the National Women's Health Network, write that the “historic number of highly qualified women candidates” running in the Democratic primary have received less media attention than their male counterparts, citing a FiveThirtyEight analysis, and that coverage of them has often focused on concerns about “electability,” using standards that have not been applied in coverage of male candidates.

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The groups demanded the press ensure at least half of town hall and debate moderators are women and half of moderators are people of color, calling CNN’s recent New Hampshire town halls using only men as moderators “unacceptable.” The letter also calls on the media to ask male candidates about issues affecting women, including sexism, maternal health, reproductive rights and sexual assault.

“We need a candidate committed to protecting and promoting women’s rights, but too often, only women candidates are asked about reproductive rights and justice, maternal health or mortality, combating sexism, and addressing and eradicating sexual violence--if these questions are even asked at all,” the letter states. “Women make up over 50% of the electorate. Journalists must ask male candidates about these issues.”

Lastly, the letter calls on the press to cover women candidates “as seriously as you cover men,” citing a recent study indicating coverage of women candidates is often less concerned with policy and substantive issues than coverage of male candidates.

“We recognize the importance of the media in disseminating information to voters. The media has the power to form and shape voter opinion on candidates and to even sway an election,” the letter states. “This is why the media must desist in its sexist coverage of women candidates for president and ensure that the highly-qualified women in the race receive the same coverage as the male candidates in the race.”

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