Gender, Media, Politics, and Taking on the Establishment
by RACHEL BARNHART
Reading Broad, Casted for your book club? Rachel may be able to stop by or Skype in! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to Barnhart on Albany’s Talk 1300! (Twenty-one minutes in)
Rachel Barnhart spent 17 years as an investigative and public interest journalist in Rochester, New York. She left her job to run for New York State Assembly. Reporting on politics for so many years didn’t prepare her for what would happen on the campaign trail: gender-based attacks, smear websites and relentless criticism because she dared to take on the establishment. Broad, Casted is the story of a how an accomplished Ivy League graduate was reduced to a “prom queen.”
A Call for Change
In Broad, Casted, Barnhart raises important questions about the television news industry and party politics. Barnhart calls for end to racial and economic divisions in the Monroe County Democratic Party and offers a third way. The local party acted like an exclusive club, even sending out a mailer to voters accusing Barnhart of not being a “real Democrat.” Yet the election results show Barnhart did better among less affluent and minority voters than did her opponent. What does it mean to be a “real Democrat?”
As we saw in the national election, sexism is rampant. The primary race for this assembly seat shows even Democrats are guilty of using gender-based attacks when it serves their interests.
“There’s a way we think of women who are public figures and women who are political and make their voices known in the public sphere. Men are zealous advocates. They’re determined. They’re ambitious. Women, they’re about drama. They want attention. But it’s the same behavior. It’s just that we like to see it in men and we don’t like to see it in women.” – Hilary Shroyer, attorney & feminist
“They went after you in every way. The plan was to paint you as an airhead who was on some sort of an ego trip. The message was basically that you’re a girl. What can you possibly know about politics?” – Alex White, former Rochester mayoral candidate
What readers are saying about Broad, Casted on Amazon
“She offers a deep look into the local political scene in this intensely personal and detailed book. Her story flows quickly and will open the eyes of anyone interested in the election process. Highly informative and entertaining as well.” – Charles J. Sauer
“Rachel provides an insightful look into the business of TV news and how personal friendships, community leaders and large corporations can influence it.” – Michael Bloch
“This is a must read for anyone interested in Rochester, New York, politics, but also for anyone who thinks one political party has a monopoly on slander or sexism. Former journalist Rachel Barnhart takes the reader through the underhanded political activity mounted against her in a Democratic party primary for the New York State assembly. Written with a journalist’s attention to detail but with the passion of someone who cares deeply about civility in political discourse, this memoir is riveting to read. While the mudslinging and prevarication Barnhart had to face could make the reader feel cynical about the election process, the pride the author shows in her campaign and her hope that things can change is a source for optimism.” – Ed Trefzger
“Through my job, I’ve seen the way Albany works. If you want some insights into why NYS is run so poorly, Rachel Barnhart’s book will provide them, and more. The theme of her book, and her campaign, revolves around the fact that the system run by “the Establishment” is broken. Her message is even more powerful given what we witnessed in this year’s Presidential campaigns. This is an excellent read, and I would like to see anyone who votes picking it up and understanding Rachel’s lessons.” – Andy Vaughan
“This is a very insightful look at the ugly underbelly of local politics. I commend Ms. Barnhart for letting her voice be heard. As a former TV news reporter, she keeps conjecture to a minimum,” – Jeff F
My experience shows how hard it is to be a woman running for office. I had spent nearly two decades on television. I had lived a very public life. But I was unprepared for the torrent of attacks, many based on my gender. It was disheartening these attacks came from fellow Democrats. Few people outside of my circle came to my defense. Few people recognized the attacks as misogyny. Being a woman and running against The Establishment is an isolating and terrifying experience. Some people told me not to write this book because it would be seen as ‘sour grapes.’ But I’m doing what I’ve always done: telling the story.
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