The Joke, The Press and a Big WTF?

Today, I was reading Frank Rich’s Sunday op-ed column in the New York Times and came across this line:

“The main reason McCain knuckled under to the religious right by picking Palin is that he actually believes there’s a large army of embittered Hillary loyalists who will vote for a hard-line conservative simply because she’s a woman. That’s what happens when you listen to the TV news echo chamber. Not only is the whole premise ludicrous, but it is every bit as sexist as the crude joke McCain notoriously told about Janet Reno, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.”

That last part intrigued me. I hadn’t heard about this joke at all in the recent bouts of mudslinging over the past six months. So with a little googling, I came across this sad McCain attempt at being Jay Leno: “

Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”

– Sen. John McCain, speaking to a Republican dinner, June 1998

My first thought was that this was a joke within itself, after all we have no video, etc. So after further clicking I came across this gem on Salon.com:

“The fact that McCain had made the tasteless joke was reported in major newspapers, as was the vain attempt by his press secretary to initially deny what McCain had done. But in several major newspapers, the joke itself was kept a secret. When McCain subsequently apologized to President Clinton, the Washington Post, in its personality section, noted the apology but said the joke “was too vicious to print.”

The Los Angeles Times, in its Life & Style section, provided an oblique rendering of the joke that did not fully convey its ugliness. When Maureen Dowd penned a column in the New York Times about the joke, she wrote that McCain “is so revered by the press that his disgusting jape was largely nudged under the rug.” But Dowd chose not to relay the joke, either.”

How gullible of me to think that the press couldn’t be persuaded NOT to report something like this. This all rings even louder now that McCain is being held as a “maverick” for picking a VP candidate like Sarah Palin. I really would hate to know of the private jokes that he has in his head for his newly picked partner. Aside from being against a woman’s right to hold court over her body and basically being in the pocket of the country’s elite, I would urge female McCain supporters to keep this one-liner in mind while voting. Janet Reno was no Marilyn Monroe, but she blazed a trail for women in politics like no other and deserves our respect. That is no joke.



A Joke Too Bad To Print? [Salon]

Obama Outwits the Bloviators [NYTimes]

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