Personalities may have overshadowed policy during this presidential campaign, but one issue has dominated virtually every news cycle:
He said, she said, he interrupted.
Whether she wins the White House or not, Hillary Clinton has already changed American discourse. If it has done nothing else, her historic campaign has illuminated the belittlement, condescension and hostility that women have endured for decades in workplaces across the country.
From the moment in the Democratic debates when Bernie Sanders snapped at Clinton, “Let me finish,” to the recent sight of Newt Gingrich accusing Megyn Kelly of being “fascinated with sex,” this campaign has been the embodiment of a growing awareness of the subtle — and not so subtle — sexism women face.
Documented in numerous studies and over countless commiserative glasses of post-work wine, such experiences have spawned at least three neologisms (“mansplain,” “manologue,” “manterruption”), an entire cottage industry around the empowerment of working women and even an app.
But this election put what once seemed anecdotal or academic starkly on display on television and in easily shareable YouTube clips. Along with post-debate fact-checking came an actual tally of how many more times Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton than vice versa (51 versus 17, according to an analysis by the news website Vox).
It is an issue that crosses political lines; even as memes circulated of Trump yelling “wrong” repeatedly while Clinton spoke during the debates, Republican analyst Ana Navarro shot to fame by refusing to be shushed when she quoted the exact wording of the now infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump is heard making lewd remarks about women.
And Fox News’ Kelly has been at the center of it all from the beginning.
Even before Trump began his controversial bid for the White House, Kelly was an outlier at Fox News when it came to matters of gender. The working mother of three young children drew headlines for rebuking smug male pundits who called maternity leave “a racket” or suggested women were going against nature by making more money than their husbands.
And there was the star-making viral moment on election night in 2012 when Fox News called Ohio — and thus the election — for President Obama, sending Republican operative Karl Rove into an on-air meltdown of denial. With the poise of a White House tour guide, Kelly walked across the Fox News studio to interview the network’s statisticians to confirm the results.
Viewed in hindsight, the clip plays like a teaser for the 2016 election, when fulminating men have repeatedly lost their cool, talked over and interrupted women who have (mostly) kept their cool and stuck to the facts, dismantling the notion that women are dictated by emotions.
Kelly also reportedly played a pivotal role in the well-documented behind-the-scenes drama at Fox News over its chief, encouraging other women to speak out against Roger Ailes, who was ousted in July following multiple charges of sexual harassment.
She also clashed with prominent Trump booster Sean Hannity, who took to Twitter — the second-most public venue after live television — to accuse her, with scant evidence, of being a Clinton supporter. (Note: He was the one to pick the fight; she was the one who made nice in a subsequent tweet.)
Then last week, during her prime-time show “The Kelly File,” Trump supporter Newt Gingrich responded to a question about sexual assault allegations against the Republican nominee by claiming that Kelly was “fascinated with sex.”
Without turning a hair, Kelly calmly explained that she was, instead, obsessed with the safety of American women.
“I think your defensiveness on this may speak volumes, sir,” she said, ending the segment by suggesting Gingrich work on his anger issues.
Not surprisingly, the exchange went viral.
For his part, Trump has seemed to go out of his way to make gender an issue of the campaign, questioning whether Clinton has the “look” or “stamina” of a president, talking over her repeatedly and standing strangely close to her during the second debate.
More than once he has complained that Clinton was allowed to talk for longer periods, though reviews of debate footage revealed that he usually edged her out by a minute or two.
At one point, Trump griped that between Clinton, Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, the second debate was “one on three.” (In fact, he spoke about a minute longer than Clinton.) Meanwhile, Raddatz and Cooper repeatedly had to remind Trump to let Clinton finish speaking.
He said, she said, he interrupted. How this election has illuminated decades of workplace sexism – Los Angeles Times