Veepstakes and the glass ceiling

With now less than 100 days to go until the presidential election, the veepstakes race is reportedly narrowing. The problem with the news reports is a gender bias that seems to keep cracking its head open on the glass ceiling.

To its credit, The New York Times public editor recently took a hard look at its own coverage — “Pantsuits and the Presidency.” In the column, Clark Hoyt quoted two experts that noted The Times did a better job than others in the media on the newsroom sexism measuring stick.

So if The Times’ editors are more careful in maneuvering the gender minefield, tell me why its national reporters keep discounting Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential chances because of her experience?

In a sidebar article on the presumptive nominees’ vice-presidential search that ran last week, The Times showcased four potential candidates for the Democrats: Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton. On the one-time frontrunner, the column stated Clinton “brings obvious baggage: she would seem to undercut Mr. Obama’s central call for changing the face of Washington.”

Again on Sunday in its Political Memo which sized up the same four candidates, The Times attributed Clinton’s so-called baggage this time to Obama’s advisers. What The Times reporters failed to do was ask those advisors why Biden’s 36 years in the U.S. Senate and Bayh’s combined family lineage of 29 years inside the beltway doesn’t cut the same way.

The Times is not alone — even the “TODAY” show and MSNBC fell into the same trap over the last 24 hours when its political pundits minimized Clinton’s veepstakes chances because her experience conflicts with Obama’s “change mantel”. Interesting, since the network’s talking heads also handicapped Obama’s head-to-head race against John McCain by his “resume gap.”

If its not gender, than what is it? Maybe it’s just an anti-Bill and Hillary thing — but any bias is a problem.

Debbie Holtz, PolitickerNJ.com’s political media columnist, studies and teaches public policy and writing at Rutgers University.

Veepstakes and the glass ceiling