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Election Edition: Rachel Maddow, Lynn Sherr, The Green Party

October 31, 2008

We open on a celebratory note -- The Women's Media Center and I have been chosen for the North Star News Prize -- awarded by the North Star Fund for "shining an important light on the challenges facing women in media, as well as eloquently capturing the broader national themes at the center of the struggle for social change." The organization -- and the prize -- are named for the anti-slavery newspaper, the North Star News that black abolitionist Frederick Douglass founded in 1847. We are so honored -- and encouraged. As Douglass wrote in 1847, "We believe that what ought to be done, can be done."

MediaTrack 2008: Women.Media.The Vote.

With just days before the election, some essential reading:

On our home page now-MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has something to say about Sarah Palin, esteemed journalist and author Lynn Sherr writes on why she thinks non-voters should have their toenails removed (ouch!), prize-winning historian Mary Hershberger asks why the media won't examine the McCain war record. Nida Khan brings up the other campaign, the one with two women candidates: Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente of the Green Party. And Robin Morgan tackles "faux feminists."

Our Progressive Women's Voices participants give us serious takes on looming issues: national security expert Lorelei Kelly tells us why women must take charge; Ellen Bravo, who advocates for paid sick leave, sympathizes with Barack Obama's break from the trail to see his ailing grandmother, and blogging star Joanne Cronrath Bamberger writes about one congresswoman who went a few steps too far. WMC DC correspondent Peg Simpson focuses on possible wins for women in Congress.

As we close in on the finish line to this very long presidential campaign, it might be useful to review the more than 80 commentaries and reports about the election, all written by women, that have appeared on our website: from announcements, through the tumultuous primary season, and into the general. Our panel, co-sponsored with the Paley Center for Media, From Bella to Hillary: Women, Politics and the Media examined the possibilities of women candidates. You might also want to take a look again at our report, Bias, Punditry and the Media, an examination of media's performance during the primary, with recommendations for moving forward. Video clips from the WMC forum that inspired the report, From Soundbites to Solutions, are on our home page. In addition to holding briefings of our own, we have collaborated with many organizations to make sure women are fairly represented in the media, including our video, Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying.

PWV Election Update:

Melanie Campbell, Executive Director of National Council on Black Civic participation, which represents 80 civil rights groups nationally, is on the road, attempting to prevent voter fraud. She's written a guide to make sure your vote is counted.

Maria Teresa Peterson, Executive Director of Voto Latino, guested on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 this week, is signed up to do several days of election coverage for MSNBC.

Margot Dorfman, Executive Director of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, testified before Congress on the effect of the economic turndown on women businesses, covered by The Wall Street Journal.

On Election Night I'll be doing some analysis for French TV (the WMC is going international!) Post election analysis includes leading two discussions: for New York Women in Communications with Arianna Huffington and Geraldine Ferraro and Marie Wilson -- and for the Women's Leadership Exchange with Valerie Plame among others.

On Wednesday, November 5th, several PWV-ers will participate in The Day After: A Feminist Town Forum, sponsored by The Center for New Words in Cambridge, Mass. Watch the webcast, and follow bloggers Veronica Arreola (Viva la Feminista) Deborah Siegel (Girl with Pen) and Gloria Feldt (Heartfeldt Politics.)

Be sure to read Veronica's Ms. Magazine review of the anthology edited by the Center's head, Jacklyn Friedman and WMC Honorary Advisory Council member Jessica Valenti of Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape…then get the book. It has a piece by another PWV-er, Latoya Peterson, who edits And Salon's Rebekah Traistor, so good as a "Soundbites" panelist of ours at the Democratic Convention, has a great piece on the effects of the election on Katie Couric, Campbell Brown and Rachel Maddow: "Ladies of the Nightly News".

To stay informed before, during, and after, sign up for our Exclusives, and Daily News Briefs, delivered directly to you.

We're working to make sure women are visible and powerful in the media. Please join our effort, by contributing to WMC.

WMC Round-Up

Meet the Press: Word is that NBC may be nearing a decision on a replacement for the late Tim Russert. Since our beginning, the WMC has been lobbying for women to host the Sunday morning news shows-the ones that influence policy and determine "news." We salute the efforts of a private citizen, Margot Friedman, who has started a Meet the Press campaign, Don't Let NBC Dis Women. We urge you to join up-and start campaigns of your own for full participation in media! Let us know about them!

League of Black Women: The WMC conducted a webinar for the League, headed up by Sandra Finley, which does great research on leadership, keeps track of participation of African American women in corporate life. It has a membership of thousands across the country.. We went through the steps of establishing media relations, and the impact of women of color this election cycle.

10/13 BlogHer: The DC Blogher conference drew several hundred bloggers -- I shared the closing plenary, on the blogging influence in elections, with CBS's Leslie Stahl. You may know that BlogHer has a following of some 30,000 women bloggers! Lisa Camahort-Page, Lisa Stone and Stahl, of 60 Minutes, was there in her role as an owner of wowOwow the online magazine. Partners include Whoopie Goldberg and Liz Smith. All woman owned! An interview with Michelle Obama is up now.

10/14 TimeWarner Media & the Presidency Conference: The WMC was a part of the two-day forum that attracted nearly 100 of the big guns of media. Unfortunately, women were vastly outnumbered. On the "Media & Power" panel, there were no women; on the "Is the Media Biased ?" panel there was no person of color. Lisa Witter of Fenton Communications organized the "Women & the Election" panel where 7 of the 14 or so women spoke, including Karen Tumulty of Time, and me. Our work -- not nearly done! See Marcia Yerman's WMC piece on this and BlogHer.

10/23 Lifetime: Got to watch Andrea Wong, the impressive new President of Lifetime TV, conduct business. As part of a panel presentation for advertisers, I talked about the power of sponsors: to know how many women are involved in productions they support, to influence portrayals of women-and to take note of the absence of women of color, especially. Willow Bay, senior editor of the Huffington Post, moderated. WMC is a media partner of Lifetime's Every Woman Counts campaign, which has produced some valuable bi-partisan polling of women in America.

Martha Burk, Money Editor of Ms. Magazine, also participated. She's got a great new book, Your Money and Your Life, The High Stakes for Women Voters in 08 and Beyond. And a radio program that is must pre-Election day listening with Huffington Post Editor in Chief Arianna Huffington, United Farm Workers Co-founder Dolores Huerta, and financial advisor Suze Orman.


Pat Mitchell, the WMC's board co-chair, has been inducted into the prestigious Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. The president of the Paley Center for Media , and former head of PBS, Mitchell was also honored by the Center for Advancement of Women for her outstanding contributions to media and to women's issues internationally.

Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the WMC,was honored with the Minerva Award at Maria Shriver's California Women's Conference, described as "a warrior for women's rights and for equality for all." Some 14 thousand women gathered in Long Beach to discuss empowerment. Before the conference, Gloria, Maria, and fellow awardee Billie Jean King were interviewed by Oprah. You can view a clip of the after-conversation here. You can read Rosalie Maggio's report on the conference for us here.

In closing, we highly recommend your seeing the Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Abby Disney's documentary about the Market Women of Liberia. Winner of Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, it opens in theaters next week. It's a definite do not miss -- take all your friends!

In our next newsletter we'll take you on the road with WMC co-founder Jane Fonda.

Until then, remember to vote!

With warmest wishes,

Carol Jenkins
The Women's Media Center