In a recent CIO Insight article, Elizabeth Edwards has an interesting quote about the lack of media coverage for her husband, 2004 Vice Presidential Nominee John Edwards. She states “We can’t make John black, we can’t make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars.”

She does have an interesting point as Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama appear to get the majority of the media coverage for the Democrats (Edwards is a distant fourth, behind Al Gore who isn’t even running).   It’s almost a given that Clinton or Obama will gain the nomination which, in either case, will make history. In my home state of Massachusetts,  last year’s  gubernatorial race was similar where Deval Patrick was vying to become the state’s first black governor and Lt. Governor Kerry Healy was hoping to become the state’s first elected woman governor (Patrick eventually won by a huge margin). Even though Patrick had a commanding lead for the last few months of the campaign, the race still had a significant amount of media coverage.

Speaking of Massachusetts governors, on the Republican side, Governor Mitt Romney is getting a lot of attention because of religion — he’s a Mormon.  Mormons are famous for their television commercials and for allowing polygamy in the 1800’s (which they renounced in 1890) so the media is having a field day here.  Romney’s religion seemed to steal the thunder from former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Italian heritage.

I don’t blame the candidates for this as they appear to be trying to discuss the issues (and the debates on both sides have had some memorable moments), but the media appears fascinated with what should be non-issues. What’s interesting is that Clinton and Obama have been able to capitalize on what some would consider to be a challenge while it’s been somewhat of a crutch for Romney (although he appears to be making progress).

It just goes to show you that if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to deal with obstacles and challenges that would turn others away.

Gender, race & religion: The odd media coverage of the 2008 Election

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