Aug 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Media warned to watch stereotypes when covering Biden's female running mate

Mike Allen
Illustration of female icon made of newspaper
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Looking ahead to Joe Biden's announcement of a female running mate, a group of women leaders sent a letter Friday to top news executives to warn them against "stereotypes and tropes" in coverage.

What they're saying: "Our country — and your newsrooms — have learned a lot since the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests for racial equality that his death spurred," the letter says.

  • "[T]he times and the experience made you, the most powerful people in media, stop and think about your role in perpetuating inequality and the opportunity you had to promote equality and simple justice with your reporting of the news," it adds.

The big picture: The new group, called We Have Her Back, was formed to be a watchdog on coverage of the running mate.

  • It includes Fatima Goss Graves (National Women’s Law Center), Ilyse Hogue (NARAL), Valerie Jarrett, Alexis McGill Johnson and Melanie Newman (Planned Parenthood), Debra Ness (National Partnership for Women and Families), Cecile Richards (Supermajority), Jess Morales Rocketto, Hilary Rosen, Stephanie Shriock and Christina Reynolds (Emily’s List), and Tina Tchen (Time's Up Now).

The letter continues that a woman V.P. candidate, "and possibly a Black or Brown woman candidate, requires the same kind of internal consideration about systemic inequality as you undertook earlier this year."

  • "Women have been subject to stereotypes and tropes about qualifications, leadership, looks, relationships and experience. Those stereotypes are often amplified and weaponized for Black and Brown women," it reads.
  • "Attempts at legitimate investigations of a candidate have repeatedly turned into misguided stories that perpetuate impressions of women as inadequate leaders, and Black and Brown women as worse."
  • "We believe it is your job to, not just pay attention to these stereotypes, but to actively work to be anti-racist and anti-sexist in your coverage (ie: equal) as this political season progresses and this presidential ticket is introduced."

Read the full letter.

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