Politics: July 2012 Archives

I noticed something odd yesterday in the transcript for NPR's Political Junkie. At the beginning of every week's episode, they play a bunch of clips from famous politicians. Here is the list from the transcript:

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?

SENATOR BARRY GOLDWATER: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

SENATOR LLOYD BENTSON: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore.

SARAH PALIN: Lipstick.


PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: But I'm the decider.


Two things are strange. The first is that Sarah Palin is listed with no honorific title, as all the men who are listed are given. The second is that Howard Dean isn't listed at all for his scream. The second might be because whoever did the transcript amazingly doesn't know about Dean's famous "I have a scream" moment. I'm not sure. But everyone else has names listed, and the only one with a name listed who is just listed by name is Governor Sarah Palin. The other governor, Rick Perry, is listed as Governor Rick Perry. Palin is just Sarah Palin, as if her achievement of being governor is not important in her case. The senators, presidents, and vice-president all have their titles. But Sarah Palin is just Sarah Palin.

Is that implicit sexism on the part of whoever does the transcript? Is it part of a more specific bias against conservative women? Is it simply bias against Palin herself? I'm not sure we should speculate on exactly what leads the trasncriptionist to discount the title of her elected office, but it's certainly irresponsible, and this is not something limited to just this week's transcript. The last few weeks do it this way. I checked randomly in a number of other Wednesdays to see if it's consistent. The first older one I tried just listed her as Palin, while the others had full names and titles. But this does seem to be a common feature of their weekly transcript. Most of them had just the pattern I see in this week's transcript, and the fact that the higher-ups don't seem to notice it over a lengthy period of time, and presumably no one has pointed it out to them, or they would have done something about it, suggests that the implicit bias at work here is more than just one person's.

[I did find one in 2010 that lists Howard Dean. Interestingly, it lists him as Mr. Howard Dean, despite his being both a former governor and a medical doctor. Sarah Palin is listed as Ms. Sarah Palin in that one. This is before Rick Perry was added, so there are no governors in the lineup except Palin and Dean. Nevertheless, it's still odd that she would be listed as Ms. and Dean as Mr., when the others are all listed as senators, presidents, and vice-president.

I also found one that did get Palin right, calling her a former governor. Some of the formers are formers in that one. Some of them are not. That's odd, but it's the only one I found that didn't fit the pattern at all, suggesting someone else did that transcript. But the next week gets rid of the formers and still lists titles for Dean and Palin. So it's not a completely consistent pattern, but it does seem to me to be much more often than an occasional mistake.]


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