Pelosi, Clinton, Lagarde: Double Standard Women Face in Media

Nancy  Pelosi, the House minority leader who served as the first and only female speaker of the House, agrees with Hillary Clinton, the former first lady who has run for president and may run again.

“I never expected anything but a double standard” from the media, as a woman, Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley airing today. “As one who has been the speaker of the House, I’ve had to have a very thick skin about every kind of thing that has been thrown at me.”

Clinton, the retired secretary of state and senator from New York weighing a campaign for president in 2016, calls that “rhinoceros skin.”

Clinton, appearing in a joint interview with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde last week, said the media have a double standard for reporting on women.

`We have all either experienced it or at the very least seen” the double standard in media coverage, Clinton said at the Women in the World Summit in Manhattan on April 3, during which she and Lagarde discussed barriers to gaining equal access to education, health care and economic opportunity.

Lagarde spoke there of how letting her signature white hair grow a bit longer got her media attention during the IMF annual meetings in October.

“Journalists actually wrote a story, full page, saying that because my hair was longer there would no longer be a haircut,” she said. “Haircut of the debt of a sovereign state!”

Clinton suggested that a deep set of cultural and psychological views are “manifest” in that standard.

Pelosi, who made history  in 2007 when she became the first — and so far only — woman to serve as House speaker, currently is the chamber’s minority leader. She held the speaker’s post for four years, relinquishing it to Rep. John Boehner of Ohio after Republicans won the House majority in the 2010 elections.

In the CNN interview, she said Clinton is in a good position to judge whether the media uses different standards in covering men and women, citing the scrutiny of the former first lady when she ran against Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

“If Hillary Clinton thinks there is a double standard, she has been in the main event — that is, the presidential race ,” Pelosi said. “Then I respect that.”

For some time now, and we reach back to December 2007 for this reference, Clinton has been “invoking a mantra attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, ” as “This Town”’s Mark Leibovich put it. “Mrs. Clinton likes to say that women in politics 1need to develop skin as tough as a rhinoceros hide.” He quoted her then as saying: “I joke that I have the scars to show from my experiences… But you know, our scars are part of us, and they are a reminder of the experiences we’ve gone through, and our history.”

“I am constantly making sure that the rhinoceros skin still breathes,” Clinton said then. “And that’s a challenge that all of us face. But again, not all of us have to live it out in public.”

At an appearance in Toronto last summer, Clinton spoke of Mrs. Roosevelt and that rhinoceros skin and said that, although electing a female president would “require a leap of faith’” on the part of American voters, that “really depends on women stepping up and subjecting themselves to the political process, which is very difficult.”’

As Bloomberg’s Sandrine Rastello noted of that interview with Clinton and Lagarde, the two shared the same reaction when The New York Times’ Tom Friedman suggested that one might run for the president of the U.S., the other president of the European Union.

A little skin: High-fives. 

 — Mark Silva and Don Frederick contributed to this report.

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