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Biden Staffer's Caustic Comment Reveals Media Double Standard

COMMENTARY


If you were waiting to see an obvious double standard in the way media outlets cover Democrats vs. Republicans, you didn’t have to wait long. Cue Jen O’Malley Dillon – Joe Biden’s campaign manager and newly named deputy White House chief of staff. In an interview with Glamour magazine, O’Malley Dillon uses a seven-letter version of a four-letter word to describe Senate Republicans. 

The news isn’t that she holds these senators she theoretically is going to work with in such low regard, nor that Democrats in Washington have such enmity towards Republicans in general. (Anyone remember the look of horror on the faces of the Obama White House staff when the last transition began?)

The news is how these comments were greeted (celebrated?) by the media and the duplicity in how they treat the “tone” emanating from the incoming administration. Deputy chief of staff is the position I held under President Trump at the start of his term. Rest assured, if -- mere weeks after an emotional and polarizing election -- I had referred to Senate Democrats with the same word, I no doubt would have been called on to resign in disgrace.

Lengthy thought pieces would be written about how I represented the polarized nature of our politics and the burn-it-all-down approach of the next administration. Hours of cable news airtime would have been dedicated to pundits analyzing whether President Trump approved of how I spoke.

Instead, this time the media reacted in three ways that serve to highlight their inherent bias. They either ignored the epithet altogether; they celebrated what a strong leader O’Malley Dillon is; or they focused on the hypocrisy of any criticism of her word choice.

To be clear, I am not writing this to attack Jen O’Malley Dillon. I have met her and consider her a talented and formidable political opponent. I know what it’s like to be a tough woman in a senior role in politics and the harsher standard we are held to. I’m sure she’s having a hell of a December. But Democrats are about to start a new Congress with the slimmest House majority in modern history.

The razor-thin margins, if nothing else, will dictate that Democrats work with Republicans and cultivate the kind of relationships needed to build consensus and pass major pieces of legislation. Starting out by calling the other side “a bunch of f---ers” probably isn’t the best way to do that, and you would expect the media to at least have a reasonable conversation about that fact.

In addition, this comes after Biden ran a campaign on themes of “decency” and “working together.” The slogan of his transition has been “unity” and the media have been happy to highlight it for him. Of course, when you call a “lid” at 9 a.m. every day and take no questions, it makes it difficult to ask if such harsh words represent a shift in approach or simply a mistake.

To their credit, no Republicans on the Hill are calling on Biden to replace O’Malley Dillon. However, the fact that they aren’t doing so speaks to a drastic difference between our two parties, and the media environment in which we operate, because Democrats never would have been willing to work with me if I had said what O’Malley Dillon did. While the media double standard is disappointing, it is reality, and I hope it doesn’t cause young conservatives – especially young conservative women – to lose heart or be discouraged from working in politics. 

As a 32-year-old woman who was named deputy White House chief of staff, I was never even asked to be profiled by publications like Glamour. That was okay with me – I never saw my role as being so public. But it shows the difference in coverage the media affords the two parties.

Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino put it best recently when she said that as a conservative woman, “you know you aren’t going to get glowing media profiles, so you just get your stuff done.”

That is what I have tried to do throughout my entire career, and we need plenty more conservative women willing to step up and do the same in the years to come. As women, we have a long list of obstacles to overcome; as conservative women we can add media hostility to that list, no matter how disappointing it is.

Katie Walsh Shields was deputy White House chief of staff early in the Trump administration. She previously served as chief of staff at the Republican National Committee, where she is now a senior adviser for data.

 

Source: Real Politics

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