By Claire Goldberg
The media is a two sided coin: While the phrase “any publicity is good publicity” definitely has its standings, often times the media chooses to cover topics that are inconsequential but subsequently detrimental, especially during a Presidential election.
Let’s take 2016: A woman is running against a racist. Donald Trump’s rise to power can be largely attributed to the fact that the media can not stop talking about his shocking and insulting comments and actions. But at the same time, they can not stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s age, her outfits or most recently, her health.
On Sept. 11, Hillary was videotaped stumbling outside of an event, and after that video went viral, she announced that she was sick with pneumonia. Instead of taking the angle of her strength for continuing on the campaign trail with an illness, news media and television media alike saw it as a weakness. Some even went to far as to call her a liar for not being immediately honest and disclosing her illness. In a New York Times opinion piece, the author refers to her “self-protection” as “a perverse form of self-destruction.” This brings us back to the two-sided coin: if the nominee had announced beforehand that she was feeling sick and taking some days off the campaign trail to rest, media outlets would still have claimed she was weak and incapable. Hillary is anything but that.
On Thursday, Hillary Clinton’s “Between Two Ferns” interview was released, which only proved further that she is the master of her own message. Yes, it showed her ability to laugh the issue off, but by refusing to answer preposterous questions about her illness, she stoically and perhaps subconsciously reminded us that health is a serious matter. And when interviewer Zach Galifianakis asked, “If you get pregnant, do we get nine months of Tim Kaine?” it brought to light an incredibly important topic in women’s health and how it is viewed in mainstream society. It is just assumed that if a woman gets pregnant, she will be unable to work. But so many women work through most of their pregnancies, and since the United States is the only developed country without a paid maternity leave plan, many women are let with no choice but to go back to work almost immediately.
Donald Trump has recently released a maternity leave policy, which was met with either confusion or praise due to its seemingly progressive appearance for a Republican nominee. But the plan would only provide 6 weeks of paid leave and does not allow for a father to take time off as well. To give a comparison, as of 2013, the UK provides 280 days of paid maternity and paternity leave, and our two neighboring nations, Canada and Mexico, each provide at least 12 weeks of paid leave.
Hillary Clinton came up with a plan to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave with at least ⅔ of an individual’s wages long ago, but her plan was not deemed revolutionary; her plan was not hailed as a huge step for families in this country, because it was hardly covered at all. And it is infuriating to see story after story about Trump’s tweets, while there is nothing about Hillary’s policies, or her power, or even just her presence.
The fact of the matter is that Hillary Clinton got sick. She is running for President, she is going back and forth across the country, she is barely sleeping and she is constantly being torn down in the media for things that are completely out of her control, or at least shouldn’t be an issue. When she wore an expensive jacket to a charity event, the internet was full of pieces talking about how inconsiderate or self-centered it was. Who knows how much Donald Trump’s suits cost? No one, because the media sees him as wealthy, and sees him as a man, so his clothes and how much they cost apparently don’t matter.
So media outlets can claim Hillary Clinton is weak or incapable of running for President all they want. Because if she is incapable, then we’ve got to do away with the entire office, because there isn’t anyone out there that is more capable for the job than she is.