Former aides to Hillary Clinton say the surprising downfall of male reporters who lopsidedly covered the Democratic candidate during the 2016 election is proof of negative male bias toward powerful women.
Mic reached out to top former Clinton aides after Today co-host Matt Lauer was fired Wednesday following an accusation of sexual misconduct from a colleague.
Lauer was reviled by some Clinton aides in 2016 after he lobbed softball questions at now-President Donald Trump during a candidate forum, but grilled Clinton on the email scandal that surrounded her bid for the presidency.
“Of course men used to exerting power over women in the workplace would find a powerful woman like Hillary Clinton off-putting,” Brian Fallon, who served as Clinton’s national press secretary in 2016, told Mic. “There was a hidden gender bias just beneath the surface of a lot of the commentary Clinton endured last year. It was there all along, but in light of recent events, it may now be easier for people to spot it.”
Lauer isn’t the only male reporter who covered Clinton in what was widely seen as a lopsided fashion, and who has now been taken down by allegations of sexual harassment.
Mark Halperin, who was accused of cozying up to Trump and giving him favorable coverage in exchange for access, lost his role as an MSNBC contributor as well as a book deal about the 2016 election and an HBO deal.
“I think it continues a pattern we’ve seen where some of the highest profile reporters who were most critical of her in their coverage turn out to have questions about their approach to women,” one top Clinton aide, who asked to remain anonymous, told Mic of Lauer’s allegations.
The aide continued, “I think there is the growing body of evidence that the people covering the first female candidate for president aren’t the people who reflect our country’s values when it comes to valuing women.”
Another top female Clinton aide who also asked Mic to remain anonymous, however, was more forward-looking.
“What’s important is less how Lauer and some of these other reporters impacted Hillary but a real examination of how the people who shape opinions view and treat women,” the female aide said. “Women still face sexism and misogyny in a number of ways and it’s important that we address all of them.”