In today's Boston Globe, former Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro proposes a formal study on whether sexism hurt Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign:
...a group of women - from corporate executives to academics to members of the media - have requested that the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University and others conduct a study, which we will pay for if necessary, to determine three things.
First, whether either the Clinton or Obama campaign engaged in sexism and racism; second, whether the media treated Clinton fairly or unfairly; and third whether certain members of the media crossed an ethical line when they changed the definition of journalist from reporter and commentator to strategist and promoter of a candidate. And if they did to suggest ethical guidelines which the industry might adopt.
A report that partially or wholly validates Ferraro's charges (and how could any study group dismiss them totally?) could be used to promote the argument that the nomination was "stolen" from Clinton this year and that she has a claim on the nomination in 2012 (an idea that would be dimmed, but not completely extinguished, if Barack Obama wins the general election this year).
But Ferraro's idea to formally charge the media with "ethical" violations does come close to charging voters themselves with behaving unethically (if they consciously followed the lead of the sexist media) or behaving stupidly (if they blindly followed that lead). Sounds like elitist reasoning to me.
I'm also unclear on the supposed ethical line between "commentator" and "promoter of a candidate." If the first can't also be the second, doesn't that mean that most talking heads and bloggers can no longer be considered journalists? Ferraro, probably wisely, does not give any examples of "ethical guidelines" that journalists should adopt to solve the problem of how "society can allow sexism to impact a woman's candidacy to deny her the presidency."