NBC Reporter’s Book Blames Voters For Bias Against Women Candidates

NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Ali Vitali has new book entitled Electable: Why America Hasn’t Put a Woman in the White House… Yet and to promote it she traveled over to Wednesday’s Jose Diaz-Balart Reports on MSNBC. The answer Vitali settled on was that voters are biased against them.

Diaz-Balart summed up the book’s thesis when he asked, “What are the layers of, disadvantages of non-male, non-white candidates face when they seek the highest office in the land?”

For Vitali the answer lies in what is expected of non-white male candidates. Citing the example of Julian Castro, she lamented “He was very candid with me when we spoke for this book because he was, as the only Hispanic candidate that was in the Democratic primary field in 2020, someone who brought a very important voice to this moment, but at the same time, was getting caught in a feedback loop that many non-white and non-male candidates get caught in.”

That loop “is this idea that they are expected to speak to the issues facing their communities, whether that’s — those are issues of immigration in the case of Julian Castro, or for women, speaking to so-called women’s issues, despite the fact that multiple women in the field said I’m so glad that you want to talk about the economy, because that’s a woman’s issue, too.”

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Vitali would repeat this point multiple times and at no point did the conversation revolve around how the industry or MSNBC’s obsession with identity politics might have something to do with that which is ironic because she elsewhere admitted Republicans “really eschew the idea of running on gender or putting identity first.”

Instead of focusing on how Vitali’s fellow journalists could be better at their jobs, Diaz-Balart wondered about the voters, “And you also mention, Ali, in our political system, and how we measure success was built, you say this, by straight white men for straight white men. What are some of the things you want voters to be conscious of this election season?”

Diaz-Balart’s question was “kind of the point of this entire book,” Vitali replied. The voters are the problem, she continued, “It’s shown in some studies that I point to in the book that voters will vote for a male candidate that they don’t like. I saw that time and again with people, the way they talked to me about Donald Trump when I was on the campaign trail following him, but for female candidates, it’s harder for them to vote for a woman who they don’t like and so women have to walk that line of being likable, while also being aggressive on the primary stages.”

Vitali concluded by claiming that voters punish women candidates for simply doing what candidates are supposed to do, “I think that for voters, as they are bringing in—bringing themselves to the table as who do I support here, checking those biases of why is this candidate maybe running me the wrong way, because of the way that their voice sounds, or because of the way that they are punching out on a debate stage and showing contrast. That’s the job of being a candidate, that’s the job of being a good candidate, and ultimately, it’s the job of being president.”

Before accusing voters of being biased against and pigeonholing non-white male candidates, the media should consider their own record of pushing identity politics.

This segment was sponsored by Subway.

Here is transcript for the August 24 show:

MSNBC ­Jose Diaz-Balart Reports

8/24/2022

10:48 AM ET:

JOSE DIAZ-BALART: What are the layers of, disadvantages of non-male, non-white candidates face when they seek the highest office in the land? 

ALI VITALI: Yeah Jose, I’m so happy to have this conversation with you, and that you’re enjoying the book as you reading it because I—

DIAZ-BALART: I am.

VITALI: — actually was struck by those words from Secretary Castro, as well. He was very candid with me when we spoke for this book because he was, as the only Hispanic candidate that was in the Democratic primary field in 2020, someone who brought a very important voice to this moment, but at the same time, was getting caught in a feedback loop that many non-white and non-male candidates get caught in, which is this idea that they are expected to speak to the issues facing their communities, whether that’s — those are issues of immigration in the case of Julian Castro, or for women, speaking to so-called women’s issues, despite the fact that multiple women in the field said I’m so glad that you want to talk about the economy, because that’s a woman’s issue, too. 

Every issue is a woman’s issue and for these candidates, if you want to be president you’re not just looking to be the candidate for American women or the candidate for American Latinos and Latinas, you are looking to be the candidate for everybody. 

And that’s why something that Julian Castro’s campaign manager struck me so much when I was reporting for this book, the way that Maya Rupert put it to me was and I’ll read to you, “there’s an objectivity that’s given to white men to take any issue and make it broad. Whereas there’s a built-in concept that everybody else’s lens is already shaded.” 

And so when you are a female candidate, when you are a candidate of color, speaking to those issues that directly impact your community, that’s expected of you. But it’s also easy to just be seen in a feedback loop as a one issue candidate, which is a problem if you want to be the president for everybody. 

DIAZ-BALART: Yeah, you know and I’ve been thinking a lot about that since I read it in your book, because it happens to a lot of people that aren’t just in politics. 

VITALI: Yeah.

DIAZ-BALART: You know, it seems as though many times, it’s easy to pigeonhole people into what they should be talking about—

VITALI: Yes.

DIAZ-BALART: or what their passion point should be, right? 

VITALI: Yeah.

DIAZ-BALART: And you also mention, Ali, in our political system, and how we measure success was built, you say this, by straight white men for straight white men. What are some of the things you want voters to be conscious of this election season? 

VITALI: Look, that’s kind of the point of this entire book, Jose, is I think that once you see these inequities, whether it’s in the fundraising systems or the ways that these candidates are interpreted as authentic or likable, which, by the way, for women, is not just like nice to be liked, it actually impacts the way that voters vote for them. It’s shown in some studies that I point to in the book that voters will vote for a male candidate that they don’t like. 

I saw that time and again with people, the way they talked to me about Donald Trump when I was on the campaign trail following him, but for female candidates, it’s harder for them to vote for a woman who they don’t like and so women have to walk that line of being likable, while also being aggressive on the primary stages, specifically on debate stages and so I think that for voters, as they are bringing in—bringing themselves to the table as who do I support here, checking those biases of why is this candidate maybe running me the wrong way, because of the way that their voice sounds, or because of the way that they are punching out on a debate stage and showing contrast. That’s the job of being a candidate, that’s the job of being a good candidate, and ultimately, it’s the job of being president. 

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