From ‘polarizing’ Palin to ‘crooked’ Hillary: Utah State speaker to discuss history of labeling women politicians
Hillary Clinton is dishonest. She’s incompetent. She’s crazy.
And she’s not alone in being saddled with any of those negative tropes.
That’s what journalism researcher Teri Finneman has found in her work exploring media portrayals of women politicians going back to the 1870s — a historical insight she’ll share with students, faculty and community members when she visits Utah State University next month.
The former political reporter, an assistant professor of journalism at South Dakota State University, will visit Utah State’s Logan campus on Monday, Oct. 3, as the third Morris Media & Society Lecture Series speaker of 2016. The lecture will be held at noon in The Merrill-Cazier Library, Room 154.
Utah State journalism professor Candi Carter Olson said the visit could not come at a more important time.
“Teri Finneman’s work gives us a historical perspective on the climate we are encountering now,” Carter Olson said. “It gives us a good foundation for understanding why Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is so controversial.”
Finneman’s latest book, “Press Portrayals of Women Politicians, 1870s-2000s,” was afinalist for the Kappa Tau Alpha/Frank Luther Mott award as the best-researched journalism or mass communication book of 2015.
Regardless of one’s political beliefs, Carter Olson said, it’s important to evaluate the impact of history on conventional wisdom. Finneman’s work demonstrates that a long succession of women politicians, including 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, have suffered from gendered stereotypes, negative framing, and double binds that have served to delegitimize their standing with voters and constituents.
“I’m sure we’ll have plenty of people in the room who are already open to Finneman’s research findings,” said assistant professor of journalism Matthew LaPlante, who facilitates the Morris series on behalf of the department. “What I’m eager to know is if the people who have bought into the negative labels that burden Secretary Clinton, Utah Representative Mia Love, and other women politicians are willing to examine whether those beliefs might be rooted in historical bias.”
The Morris Media & Society Lecture Series is facilitated by Utah State’s Department of Journalism and Communication, and supported by an endowment from DeAnn Morris in honor of her late brother, former journalism professor John Morris. In deference to a man who has been described as “a chain-smoking, tough-talking, beer-drinking Westerner,” the department invites speakers who challenge convention, stoke discussion and offer subversive viewpoints.
Past Morris lecturers have included National Public Radio reporters Anne Garrels and Mandalit del Barco, former Salt Lake City mayor and third-party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, CNN.com reporter Jessica Ravitz and Pulitzer Prize finalist Pat Bagley.
Matthew D. LaPlante
assistant professor of journalism
Utah State University