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November 6 2017

Sexist LA Times Columnist Attacks Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Looks

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is many things - the face of the White House, daughter of a former governor, political operative, wife, and mother – but for some on the media, she’s nothing more than her looks and that’s blatant sexism.

Los Angeles Times cartoonist and writer David Horsey penned vicious attack on Sanders that called her a liar. But before he criticized what she says as a spokesperson, he went in on her looks. What he said was nothing pretty (original text courtesy of the Washington Post):

Sarah Huckabee Sanders does not look like the kind of woman Donald Trump would choose as his chief spokesperson. Much like Roger Ailes when he was stocking the Fox News lineup with blond Barbie dolls in short, tight skirts, the president has generally exhibited a preference for sleek beauties with long legs and stiletto heels to represent his interests and act as his arm candy.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wife Melania are the apotheosis of this type.

Comparing the president to the former head of Fox who left the company amid sexual harassment allegations? Think that’s bad just wait. Horsey then launched into his heaviest criticism:

“By comparison, Sanders looks more like a slightly chunky soccer mom who organizes snacks for the kids' games. Rather than the fake eyelashes and formal dresses she puts on for news briefings, Sanders seems as if she'd be more comfortable in sweats and running shoes.

… Yet, even if Trump privately wishes he had a supermodel for a press secretary, he is lucky to have Sanders."

So according to Horsey Sanders’ looks don’t make her good enough to be in the White House, never mind that, so far, she’s been successful at a high-pressure, highly-visible position which her two predecessors failed at. The message should be that looks don’t determine how far a woman goes and that is progress.

Second, Horsey is undermining all of women in the Trump White House by painting them as visual objects rather than capable, smart people who are good at their jobs. Perhaps he should walk the halls the of the White House to see the men and women at work there rather than making a sweeping generalization.

In addition, he takes a swipe at the women of Fox News calling them “blond Barbies.” If he checked, he’d know they aren’t just empty-headed plastic dolls waiting for Ken to drive up in a Corvette. These are smart, award-winning journalists and hosts with degrees from Harvard and other Ivy Leagues who report or analyze news, policy and politics, while balancing marriage and raising kids.

Again, these are examples of women balancing career and family to be celebrated, not denigrated.

After two days and heavy criticism, Horsey retracted the opening paragraphs about Sanders and replaced it with a weak apology:

I want to apologize to Times readers — and to Sarah Huckabee Sanders — for a description that was insensitive and failed to meet the standards of our newspaper. It also failed to meet the expectations I have for myself. It surely won't be my last mistake, but this particular error will be scrupulously avoided in my future commentaries. I've removed the offending description.

This columnist is no Trump supporter, so it’s not surprising that once again he’s hitting this administration, but his rant was disgusting and disrespectful.

Horsey is already saying that this won’t be his last mistake, perhaps because he has exposed his own sexism and had no plans to change his views of women.

Substantive policy disagreements are welcome, but not comments that make fun of how (some) women look or devalues their credentials. No woman deserves that treatment regardless of whether she’s Republican or Democrat; works in the Trump White House or on the Hillary campaign; and works at Fox News or at CNN.  

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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