March 12, 2017
White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway has finally spoken up about the barrage of criticism and mockery she has received almost since the inception of the Trump administration.
Conway, a native of South Jersey, was invited onto MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz for an interview that aired Sunday on FOX News. The former polling expert turned campaign strategist and spokeswoman was asked to react to an article published last week by The New York Times, which highlighted the sexist nature of attacks against both Conway and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Whether the attacks come from the right or the left, they show a persistent anger toward women who step outside conventional roles. Social media has long enabled a thriving subculture of the violent disparagement of women, such as the GamerGate threats toward those who challenged the male bastion of video games. Much as latent racism surfaced during the presidency of Barack Obama, this election exposed a vitriol toward powerful women that continues to erupt, beyond the confines of Twitter or Reddit.
Despite deep rifts dividing both major political parties, prominent ideological critics and satirists seem to find common ground in targeting powerful women with jokes that focus on their appearance or place them in degrading sexual situations. Democratic Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond's remark last week that Conway "really looked familiar" in the position she was recently photographed in at the Oval Office drew rebuke from colleagues and prompted an apology. Some also objected to a "Saturday Night Live" skit in which an unhinged Conway, as in the movie "Fatal Attraction," stalks CNN anchor Jake Tapper.
Several blunders by Conway over the past month or so have not helped her minimize these attacks. From citing a non-existent "Bowling Green massacre" to coining the term "alternative facts," many have dismissed her as an ill-informed spin doctor for a polarizing and politically provocative president.
Speaking to Kurtz, Conway defended both herself and President Trump, explaining that some in Washington have come across the aisle to acknowledge that they don't condone sexism lobbed in her direction. To those "haters" who have suggested she looks "haggard," Conway said it's because she's busy raising her children while working for the president.
And if she winds up sidelined for a while, she quipped, it'll be because she's getting a facelift.