Governor Sarah Palin was the running mate of Republican Candidate John McCain during the General Elections in the US in 2008. It has been argued that the media coverage she received in the run up to that election was biased and led McCain to lose to President Barack Obama. This paper will discuss whether sexism and misogyny in media coverage were the main factors that led to the failure of Governor Palin to become Vice President in 2008.
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The media has been accused of undermining female political aspirants and other well known public figures. Gender activists have accused US mainstream media of stereotyping gender roles during Palin’s Vice -Presidential campaigns in 2008. These activists argue that the media’s coverage was heavily slanted and did not bring out Palin’s positive leadership traits.
Some gender observers add that the media’s coverage strengthened long held stereotypes in the public about female candidates and women in general. These observers conclude that the sexist nature of the media coverage led the public to doubt Sarah Palin’s leadership credentials.
The media is dominated by male reporters and journalists who rub shoulders with powerful male politicians. Observers argue that this situation made Palin’s campaign to be viewed from a sexist and non-objective angle. Gender observers add that politics and election contests are viewed as adversarial.
Masculinity dominates the language used by the media to describe political contests making elections to be seen as a male affair. Metaphors used by journalists to describe elections include: battles, battle ground, combat, duel, victory and strategy. The media scrutinizes the backgrounds of political candidates during elections which makes it harder for women vying for public office to succeed.
It is right to say that the media has a lot of influence on who gets elected to public office. It should not be assumed however that, it is only the media’s bias that led to Palin’s loss in the Vice- Presidential election of 2008. Her candidature depended heavily on the way the main candidate John McCain and his campaign team reached out to voters.
McCain had more media attention than Palin because he was running for the top office in the land. Palin’s role was complementary to McCain’s efforts and as such, her success or failure was tied to how McCain was able to get voters’ support. The policy issues that McCain had in his plan were not popular with voters. The economy was performing badly and his challenger President Obama was able to raise voters’ expectations more than McCain did.
The then outgoing president, George Bush, a Republican was very unpopular. His policies had created problems for the country. Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential Republican running mate had some of this resentment by voters directed to her.
The reaction of the voters therefore, was partly influenced by the poor performance of the outgoing administration which had low popularity ratings. The campaign of Palin and McCain was evaluated by their inability to bring the desired change in the administration of public affairs. McCain’s campaign failed to the most critical issues voters were passionate about.
In conclusion, it is misleading to blame gender bias by the media as the major cause for Sarah Palin’s failure in 2008. Other factors related to McCain’s campaign contributed to the loss in presidential elections. McCain’s campaign failures made the Republican Party to lose the race for White House.