Gender Bias and Mainstream Media

  • Meredith Conroy
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)


To what degree do media perpetuate the reverence to which we afford masculinity in our politics and the coinciding disregard for femininity? In October of 1987, a week before George H. W. Bush declared his candidacy for president, Newsweek magazine ran a cover story entitled, “Bush Battles the ‘Wimp Factor.’” Although Bush stood tall at 6 feet 2 inches, played on the baseball team at Yale, was a prisoner of war during World War II, and had been director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he had been labeled on the cover of Newsweek as a wimp. The wimp label emerged years earlier, when Bush was Vice President to Reagan: Gary Trudeau, author of the cartoon strip Doonesbury, drew a cartoon where he called Bush a wimp and indicated that Bush had put his manhood in a blind trust, and the label stuck. The accusation of weakness by Trudeau was mostly in response to Bush agreeing to be Reagan’s running mate, thereby taking on more conservative positions than he had previously held. For example, before being added to the Reagan ticket, Bush was asked by the Reagan campaign to oppose abortion, a position he had not held prior. This is but one example that contributed to the notion that Bush was a follower, and not a leader, and thus incapable of being president (Warner 1987).


Media Coverage News Coverage Presidential Candidate Central Intelligence Agency Female Candidate 
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© Meredith Conroy 2015

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  • Meredith Conroy

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