Randi Rhodes calls Hillary Clinton a whore

The Air America host, now suspended, offers more evidence of a troubling mean streak in our culture.

Published April 4, 2008 1:30PM (EDT)

With progressive pundits like Randi Rhodes, who needs wingnuts?

During a recent appearance in San Francisco, the radio shock jock became the latest poster child for mean grown-up of the year. First she called Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton "fucking whores," along with an inchoate tribute to Eliot Spitzer: "At least [he] spent $80,000 on women." If you must watch the drivel firsthand, get thee here.

Thursday Air America Radio announced that Rhodes had been suspended because of the comments, so good for it. Yet such suspensions won’t offer but a drop in the bucket against our wasteland of media vitriol. Forget sex and violence; I think playground cruelty is the source of the most obscenity. Have you seen the outdoor ad campaign for the new romantic comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"? The black-and-white billboards proclaim: "I'm So Over You, Sarah Marshall," "You Suck Sarah Marshall," "My Mother Always Hated You, Sarah Marshall," and "You Do Look Fat in Those Jeans, Sarah Marshall." It's the first time I've wanted to shield my daughter's eyes from a spectacle in the city.

Ironically, the person who has been most articulate about the current mean streak in American culture is Barack Obama, Rhodes' apparent favorite. But as someone who also favors the senator from Illinois, I've become increasingly queasy about the tone some of his supporters are willing to take. At a recent brunch, I heard a sweet elderly woman wearing an Obama button talk about "just hating" Hillary Clinton. She had no idea who her fellow partygoers were voting for.

As ad hominem insult has become normative political speech, professional bloviators like Rhodes seem to have to go farther each day to retain their "edge." Still, why does Rhodes need to be so misogynist when she’s carving up her victims with her tongue?

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

MORE FROM Carol Lloyd

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