Kirsten Powers is a woman of liberal leanings but impressively independent judgments. That was demonstrated again with her recent column in The Daily Beast, in which she takes to task what she calls “the army of swine on the left” who are engaging in a “war on women.”
In the words of Powers, “Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.” She provides chapter and verse on all five men, but declares that the “grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher.” That would be the same Bill Maher who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC. So I wonder: Do you think Obama, who has placed himself in the middle of the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy, will be hounded by the press about Maher’s comments in light of his contributions? And why, by the way, are Limbaugh’s comments getting so much media attention while Maher’s comments have been overlooked, accepted, or even bring a knowing smile to the faces of some journalists, many of whom seem eager to appear on his program?
It’s not sufficient to say that Limbaugh is far more prominent than Maher, especially as Maher is now one of the larger financial supporters of President Obama.
We all know what’s going on here. The left, by and large, can say things about their political opponents that are cruel and defamatory and mostly get away with it, while those on the right are called on the carpet. That’s not true in every case, but it’s certainly true often enough to draw a reasonable conclusion.
What we have a right to expect is even-handedness rather than glaring double standards. My guess is that for many journalists and commentators, what’s happening is less a conscious bias than a sub-conscious one. When conservative women are savaged by liberal men, it’s boys will be boys/politics ain’t beanbag/sticks and stones may break my bones. But when liberal women are savaged by conservative men, it’s an assault on reason, decency and civilized standards. This is what Powers seems to be arguing, and for a woman who leans left to make that case in such an ironclad way is a tribute to her even as it’s an indictment of many in her profession.