I was at CNN the night of the firing of James Comey. Frankly, it was utter chaos as Washington exploded with the news. (The green room was packed with folks waiting to go on. I left rather than wait all night for an uncertain hit. I was far more interested at that point in the Cubs-Rockies game). I was in other words an “eyewitness” in the crowded green room when White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was interviewed by Anderson Cooper who noticeably rolled his eyes. Some in the green room were thrilled by the demonstration. One person who was not thrilled was Conway herself who leveled a charge of sexism the next morning on Fox News. (For the record, Conway is my former student at GW Law School). For the record, having worked with Anderson for years, I do not believe that he has a sexist bone in his body. That does not excuse the lapse of professionalism and it will magnify criticism of the network as openly anti-Trump.
I was surprised by the eye roll from Anderson who I have long admired for his professionalism in interviews. However, Conway viewed it as more than a lapse of judgment displaying his disagreement with the Administration. She told Fox and Friends that it was sexism and it would have been called out as such if were not her or a Trump supporter:
“Let me tell you something: Hillary Clinton is in search of sexism as a lame excuse for why her disastrous candidacy and campaign lost six months ago . . . I face sexism a lot of times when I show up for interviews like that. Could you imagine rolling your eyes, having a male anchor on a network roll eyes at Hillary Clinton . . . a female representative/spokesperson for President Obama or President Bill Clinton?”
There is no question that the eye roll was not appropriate. Moreover, I have been critical of news coverage of the Trump Administration as overtly hostile and often misleading in the spin of news events. However, I do not view Cooper as sexist or this lapse as reflecting his view of women. It certainly reflected his view of the position of the White House in the controversy.
What do you think?