MSNBC Host Tells Clinton to Smile

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tweeted a suggestion to Hillary Clinton, and the backlash was fierce.


A Washington Post headline called it "tired advice," but Scarborough hasn't been inspired to apologize:

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Scarborough responded on Twitter, saying "we've called @BernieSanders grumpy for a year. @HillaryClinton is tough as hell. She doesn't need this fake outrage." In yet another tweet, he wrote, "we've hammered all candidates on their style and substance. We try to hold all candidates to the same standard." In reply to a woman who said he crossed a line, Scarborough wrote that "I don't look at HRC as a woman anymore than I did Thatcher. I look at her as a tough candidate who can handle it."

An NPR article gives us some history about women and smiling:

Back in 1970, the feminist writer Shulamith Firestone proposed her "dream action" for the women's liberation movement: she called for "a smile boycott" in which, she wrote, "all women would instantly abandon their 'pleasing' smiles - henceforth smiling only when something pleased THEM."

In these situations, it's helpful to consider whether Scarborough would have made the same comment to a man-and what others are saying about the presidential candidate, which Vogue reports:

Fox News's Brit Hume wrote: "Hillary having a big night in the primaries. So she's shouting angrily in her victory speech," while commentator Howard Kurtz suggested Clinton should speak in a more relatable tone. "Hillary shouting her speech," Kurtz Tweeted. "She has the floor; a more conversational tone might be better for connecting with folks at home."

Discussion Starters:

  • Do you consider Scarborough's and other comments to be sexist or gender biased? Why or why not?
  • Most articles confirm that Clinton does, in fact, smile. How, if at all, does this factor into this discussion?
  • How does your own propensity to smile affect interactions and presentations? Have you received useful feedback about this?