I am aware of the depressing irony of a man who is covering the 2020 election writing about this story, but I don’t really know what to do here, other than to use my platform to highlight a fundamental injustice in our media. If you’re wondering why seemingly every white dude running for president is getting press, but Elizabeth Warren cannot seem to break through despite leading the narrative on policy (yannow, the whole point of this exercise), this probably is a big reason why.
Sexism is a central factor in American politics. This isn't me saying it. This is you saying it, America.
So it shouldn't be a surprise that this dynamic surrounding women in political leadership extends to the media who covers it, as Heather Timmons wrote in Quartz:
According to an annual study by the Women's Media Center published in January, men had the clear majority of bylines on US elections in 2018, in print and newswires, including the Associated Press and Reuters. In online election coverage, male bylines outnumbered women's by three-to-one.
The journalists covering the 2020 race are also probably whiter than the voters they're writing for—American newspapers are overwhelmingly more white than the population of the cities where they are based, the 2018 American Society of News Editors' survey shows. No one has broken US election coverage down by race of the reporters or editors involved.
This has a major impact on how and when candidates are covered—especially because we have a political media who cannot help but let narratives dictate much of their coverage. When men are the ones pitching and approving those narratives, well, you get a different kind of coverage. This column is one such example, as it is clearly lacking due to the limitations of what I can credibly bring to covering this issue.
It is an abdication of all media’s journalistic duty to cover this election from an overwhelmingly male viewpoint. We are coming off a midterm election defined by an avalanche of female candidates and the vast armies of women who helped put them in to office. Our current political moment is mainly about women. There are six presidential candidates whose polling average is above a normal margin of error, and two of them are women. One of those women is the leading ideas-person in this primary. Women are a central part of the modern Democratic story and it is a journalistic requirement that they must also be leading the charge in telling these stories.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.