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CNN Had One Woman and Eight Men on Its Women’s March Panel


Perfectly illustrating why the March was necessary in the first place, CNN filled its roundtable on the Women’s March on Washington with eight men and one woman. This first came to our attention on Twitter, and other users have since pushed back by mentioning that CNN rotated panelists throughout the night. (Apparently, at one point they had four female panelists in the group.) However, it makes for bad optics either way–and honestly, it affected the quality of the discussion.

“How big of a historic moment is this?” asked moderator Don Lemon, before gesturing to David Swerdlick for commentary.

Swerdlick said, “As an exercise in free speech, and as an exercise in nonviolent dissent, I thought it was a big success…You got the sense that a more experienced generation was passing on a tradition of activism to a younger generation. In terms of whether this translates for Democrats to gains in 2018 and 2020…No idea. You can protest all you want. President Obama always said, ‘Don’t boo, vote.’ This is what he was talking about.”

I can maybe understand where that response was going, but it felt off-topic. CNN loves the horse race of politics–winners, losers, latest polls–so I’m sure that felt like a more natural line of inquiry for Swerdlick, but when explicitly asked about the ‘historic’ nature of a march, I’d have expected a little…well, history, or historical context.

“Put it in a historical perspective for us, Douglas Brinkley,” Lemon said next, asking another male panelist to speak. Brinkley said, “Some of the cities caught people by surprise today…It’s big. It’s a huge moment. We haven’t had a women’s movement march like this.”

Instead of contextualizing this march in its relevant history, as he was asked, Brinkley then compared it to V-J Day. He made no mention of the March on Washington or the Million Woman March in Philadelphia, both historic moments of dissent from which 2017’s March explicitly drew inspiration.

Brinkley then said, “I talked to John Kerry today, and he marched…It wasn’t like he had it on his calendar: ‘I’m going to march today.’ He got caught up in the spirit of it.”

I mean, that’s cool for John Kerry, but is that the story we needed to hear about the march? Plenty of female politicians did have the Women’s March on their calendars for Saturday, including active members of Congress. It would have been far better to highlight any one of them and their reasons for marching, instead of former Secretary of State Kerry.

Admittedly, there is no guarantee that Kirsten Powers, the panel’s lone female participant, would have brought up the relevant history or nodded to women leaders instead of men. However, there’s also no denying that these male panelists ignored the complicated histories of the women’s movement and the civil rights movement–despite questions explicitly asking them to engage with it.

(Via Raw Story and Twitter, image via screengrab)

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