Politics & Policy

The Double Standard for Trump Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders

(Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)
The White House press secretary has been subjected to sexist and cruel mockery.

The vicious and vile personal attacks leveled against White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders by reporters, columnists, and celebrities are unlike anything a presidential press secretary in recent memory has had to endure. They make the mockery of Sean Spicer look tame.

Sanders has been ridiculed for her weight, her make-up, her accent, and her clothes. She has been called “dumb as a rock” by a U.S. congressman. American Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan spent two days after Thanksgiving questioning the authenticity of a holiday pie Sanders had posted on Instagram. Saturday Night Live did an appalling skit about Sanders a few weeks ago, making her look obese and stuffed into a leather teddy, reenacting a Demi Lovato video.

But it’s hard to top the hate campaign launched by the talentless and shameless Chelsea Handler, who sadly did not keep her promise to leave the country after Trump won, and who is on a one-woman rampage against Sanders, despite writing this a year ago:

Find women that are different than you and figure out the things you have in common. We have a whole generation of girls who are looking at us to see how we treat each other. Let’s show them what the power of being a woman really looks like. Let’s open our arms to each other, and to them.

What Handler really meant to say, apparently, is, “Let’s gang up on conservative women and make fun of them for how they look and call them whores.” In an interview last week with former Clinton adviser Lanny Davis, Handler called Sanders a “harlot” because of the makeup she wears: “One day, she has no makeup on at all, the next she’s got like 6-inch-long eyelashes, cleavage, and summer whore lipstick all over her face.”

Over the weekend, Handler tweeted:

Karem’s questions were related to a press conference earlier in the day featuring three women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment, but in his zeal to try and land a zinger on the president’s spokeswoman, Karem crossed a line. How exactly was Sanders supposed to respond, even if she had a story to share? (She politely demurred: “I’m not here to speak about my personal experience on that front.”) Neither Karem nor any member of the press corps truly cares if Sanders has been the victim of sexual harassment. The question was clearly a set-up to see if Sanders would take the bait. And if she had, she would have been bullied on the basis of her sex for failing to show sympathy for Trump’s accusers.

Liberal male columnists have written about Sanders in terms that, if applied to a progressive woman, would be recognized as despicable and borderline misogynistic. In the most infamous example, Los Angeles Times writer David Horsey called her a “slightly chunky soccer mom” in a scathing column. It was so clearly offensive that he was forced to issue an apology: “I want to apologize to Times readers — and to Sarah Huckabee Sanders — for a description that was insensitive and failed to meet the standards of our newspaper. I’ve removed the offending description.”

Just when you think a media establishment that has lost its collective mind, credibility, and sense of decency since last November can’t go any lower, it does. These sexist, cruel taunts have little to do with Sanders’s job performance or making sure the American public gets the facts from a sometimes fact-averse White House. Viewed from a wider lens, the treatment of Sarah Sanders has little to do with Sanders at all. The vicious ridicule is directed at all conservative women — particularly women from the South — whom the Left will never forgive for helping elect Donald Trump. It’s on a continuum with attacks against conservative women such as Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka Trump, Melania Trump, and Betsy DeVos. The hatred is aimed at all female Trump voters — Sanders is simply a proxy. A year that began with faux feminists participating in the Women’s March, where aggrieved women loudly pledged to defend their sisterhood against sexist bullying or attacks, is ending with a whimper.

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