Earlier this month, NBC’s Matt Lauer hosted a forum with both major party presidential candidates. Lauer grilled Hillary Clinton on her scandals and interrupted her on multiple occasions. Donald Trump, by comparison, was handed easy questions and not interrupted, even when he lied or made unsavory comments. Lauer’s different treatment of the candidates brought forth a bigger issue this election: The media is clearly holding Clinton to a higher standard than Trump.
Just last week, Clinton again came under fire after she claimed half of Trump’s supporters could be placed in what she called a “basket of deplorables,” which, she explained, includes racists, sexists, Islamophobes and people with other bigoted views.
While Clinton’s word choice was questionable, the issue here is that Clinton is gaining more attention for her accusations of racism and sexism than Trump is for his actual racist and sexist remarks. Recent offenses include Trump’s calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” because of her alleged Native American background and defending a tweet where he blamed gender integration in the military for sexual assault.
It is worth noting that Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark was not necessarily incorrect. A March 2016 PEW study showed 64 percent of Trump supporters agreed that Muslims should face more scrutiny solely based on their religion. A study released in June by Philip Klinkner, a political scientist at Hamilton College, showed Trump supporters were far more likely to have views that can be characterized as “racial resentment” than Clinton supporters. However, she still admitted that her statement was too generalistic and said she regretted her wording. Trump has yet to show that level of remorse for any statement, even when he was proved to be lying.
Another recent event that highlighted the gap in how the candidates are treated was Clinton’s pneumonia incident last weekend. After Clinton’s campaign announced she had pneumonia, many people called for her campaign to release more detailed medical records. Meanwhile, the medical records Clinton has already released were far more thorough than Trump’s, which consisted of a vague doctor’s note.
Any candidate for the U.S. presidency, one of the most important jobs in the world, should be grilled and examined on their background and stances on important issues. Clinton is being treated as a serious candidate and held to a high standard. Trump, conversely, is being thrown easy interview questions and allowed to get away with lying and offensive comments just because that is what we have come to expect from him, and that creates an unlevel playing field.