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Condemning Sexist Remarks by TV Host Ed Schultz, Women's Media Center Thanks MSNBC for Swift Suspension

May 25, 2011

New York:  Earlier today the Women's Media Center called on MSNBC to rebuke TV host Ed Schultz for calling conservative radio personality Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut" on his Tuesday radio program. 

And this evening, WMC President Julie Burton, praised MSNBC for suspending Schultz from his TV program and announced that the network and host Ed Schultz have agreed to meet with her organization to discuss how to make sure his inappropriate and degrading language will not be used again.

Schultz's apology and promise to never use that language again was heartfelt, and praised by the group. Women’s Media Center President, Julie Burton, commended MSNBC's management and Ed Schultz for acknowledging the inappropriate and sexist language and for taking swift public action to apologize.  She said, “When you demean one woman, you demean all women.  Anti-women slurs and epithets are beyond inappropriate - they harm women.”

"Laura Ingraham is no friend to women, and while we disagree with many of her views, the type of language Ed Schultz used, whether accidentally or on purpose, has the effect of legitimizing sexism and undermines the credibility of all women. Two wrongs don't make a right."

In praising MSNBC and Schultz for their quick action in response to the group’s online protests, Burton said she was pleased with the message it sends:  “Such vile attacks that perpetuate inequality in newsrooms and in politics will not be tolerated.  We look forward to working with MSNBC's leadership to discuss how commentators may critique women leaders based on their political views and comments, not their gender."

She also noted that, unlike some chronic offenders, “Ed Schultz has long been a friend and supporter of women’s issues and an opponent of sexism in the society.  That’s another reason why we expected him to make an apology for his slip – and to do it on the air.  We have to expect high standards from media people on the left and on the right of the political spectrum."

In a media climate where Talkers Magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list of the top talk radio hosts only included 12 women with their own programs, (plus two women co-hosts), such comments dissuade women from entering into political talk radio careers. Thus, such comments widen gender disparities in media even further and contrubute to a climate where half of America's voices and priorities are not heard.

MSNBC has reprimanded several male commentators and anchors who have espoused some moderately sexist to severely misogynist views over the years, from Chris Matthews' derogatory coverage of Hillary Clinton's presidential race, to David Shuster's suspension by the network for comments about Chelsea Clinton being "pimped out" by the Clinton campaign.

Yana Walton, VP of Communications for the Women's Media Center, said "MSNBC's decision to place the issue of media sexism front and center was commendable, and today they set the example for other networks who are often guilty of media sexism yet aren't even beginning to address the problem. We will be especially vigilant as coverage gears up of women candidates in the 2012 elections, and are happy to have partnered with Change.org on this issue."

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Women's Media Center was founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem to positively impact the visibility of women in the media, amplify women's voices on key issues in the national dialogue, fight sexism and bias against women in the media, and increase professional opportunities for women across all forms of media. Through training, advocacy, and the development of original content, WMC is changing the conversation in the media so that media more accurately represents the perspectives, positions, and priorities of women.

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