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Opening Arguments

The other shoe

Let's walk a mile in somebody else's shows, shall we?

On Friday, all three network morning shows fretted over a woman throwing a shoe at Hillary Clinton during a speaking event in Las Vegas. NBC Today co-host Tamron Hall was particularly melodramatic: "I mean, but how scary is that?...Had it hit her, that would have been awful. It would have been awful." Weatherman Al Roker added: "Jeez, that's frightening." Hall declared: "It's hard for me to watch, actually."

The shoe was on the other foot in 2008, when an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at then-President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference. At that time, ABC and CBS referred to the shoe-thrower as a "celebrity" and "folk hero" who "thrilled the Arab world." In 2009, then-MSNBC host David Shuster actually cheered the release of the footwear assailant from prison.

And she only had to duck one shoe instead of two!

OK, that's from Newsbusters, the raison d'etre of which is to root out and deplore liberal bias, so consider the source, I guess. But it is exactly the kind of unintended slanting that happens all the time because of the journalists' core beliefs, and they wouldn't even understand it if you explained it to them.

Something else is going on here, too, though. The different reactions can also be explained by another kind of double standard, one that's practically in our genes: You don't hit a woman. If you do, you will be much more condemned than if you did the same thint to a man. Our march toward equality notwithstanding, a belief so ingrained will never go away, at least not as long as we still think of women as the nurturing  half oif humanity best able to raise civilized children.