Sunday, June 29, 2008

We are all Hussein

An interesting phenomenon has been that of Barack Obama supporters throughout the US adopting the middle name 'Hussein'. Inspired by a mix of anti-Muslim prejudice they find among others and the 1960 film Spartacus, where the slaves shouted in unison "I am Spartacus!", they are fighting back against those who use Barack Obama's middle name as a kind of racial slur.

Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Kentucky, gave herself a new middle name on, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.

"Emily Hussein Nordling," her entry now reads.

With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Oklahoma, to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago.

Jeff Strabone of New York now signs credit card receipts with his newly assumed middle name, while Dan O'Maley of Washington, D.C., jiggered his e-mail account so his name would appear as "D. Hussein O'Maley." Alex Enderle made the switch online along with several other Obama volunteers from Columbus, Ohio, and now friends greet him that way in person, too.

Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim. Hussein is a family name inherited from a Kenyan father he barely knew, who was born a Muslim and died an atheist. But the name has become a political liability. Some critics on cable television talk shows dwell on it, while others, on blogs or in e-mail messages, use it to falsely assert that Obama is a Muslim or, more fantastically, a terrorist.

"I am sick of Republicans pronouncing Barack Obama's name like it was some sort of cuss word," Strabone wrote in a manifesto titled "We Are All Hussein" that he posted on his own blog and on

So like the residents of Billings, Montana, who reacted to a series of anti-Semitic incidents in 1993 with a townwide display of menorahs in their front windows, these supporters are brandishing the name themselves.


The movement is hardly a mass one, and it has taken place mostly online, the digital equivalent of wearing a button with a clever, attention-getting message. A search revealed hundreds of participants across the country, along with a YouTube video and bumper stickers promoting the idea. Legally changing names is too much hassle, participants say, so they use "Hussein" on Facebook and in blog posts and comments on sites like, and, the campaign's networking site.

New Husseins began to crop up online as far back as last fall. But more joined up in February after a conservative radio host, Bill Cunningham, used Obama's middle name three times and disparaged him while introducing Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, at a campaign rally. ( McCain repudiated Cunningham's comments).

The practice has been proliferating ever since. In interviews, several Obama supporters said they dreamed up the idea on their own, with no input from the campaign and little knowledge that others shared their thought.

Full article here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Citizen Journalism paper at CCI Conference

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation has now completed its conference Creating Value: Between Commerce and Commons. It was a very successful event, with over 180 delegates enjoying three days of lovely Brisbane winter sunshine and a very strong range of keynote presentations, papers and panels. If you want a blow by blow, panel by panel conference description, check out Axel Bruns' fabulous blog.

The paper that I presented was co-authored with Jason Wilson, and was titled "Citizen Journalism and Political Participation: The Youdecide project and the 2007 Australian Federal Election". It reported on the project, and the full paper can be found at the QUT ePrints site.

A summary of our main points in evaluating this project against the objectives set for it is:

1. Promoting citizen participation in Australian politics
  • Good range of contributions, site visits (about 12-16,000 a week) across 50 electorates
  • Biggest story was 'crate gate affair' concerning MP for Herbert, Peter Lindsay
  • 40% of registrants were from Queensland
  • Didn't get participants from some key electorates (e.g. Wentworth and Bennelong)
  • Localism is a key issue to consider as Queensland Decides site attracted as much participation in early 2008
2. Promoting citizen engagement in the policy process
  • Not really - it was more a news site than a deliberative site
  • Context of a Federal election may have been a factor here
  • Uneven buy-in from political organisations (Liberals did not get involved at all)
  • Site design issues may have been a factor
3. Building top-down/bottom-up links between mainstream and online independent media
  • Good range of references in mainstream media, both to stories and to project itself
  • You Decide TV program on Briz 31 attracted about 16,000 viewers on a Friday night (can still be viewed on YouTube)
  • Club Bloggery site established on ABC Online on back of collaborative Gatewatching site
  • Didn't make link with SBS as project partner
4. Broadening base of political participation beyond the 'political junkies'
  • Didn't happen - very much a site for the already politically engaged

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Intellectual Property: Where is China going?

China and copyright have been something of an odd couple for some time. Since the 'reform and opening up' (gaige kaifeng) of the Chinese economy under Deng Xiaoping in 1978, China has definitely been the place to pick up a cheap copy of designer label clothing, bags, DVDs etc etc.

But since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001, this reputation has sat uncomfortably with both international (especially US) opinion and the nation's own aspirations to become a global leader in brands and IP and not just cheap manufactured goods.

The Wall Street Journal features a piece today by Wang Qishan, Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, pointing to new IPR reforms in China that further harmonisation with international standards and promise greater enforcement of illegal copying.

The Beijing Silk Markets may be no more - or, as stated in the article, have undertaken "rectification" - and the Yashow Market may be too full of bus loads of Germans, but I'll bet 10 pairs of black Hugo Boss socks (cost $US10) that there is still much more to be uncovered about this question.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Americans doing politics online

This Pew Internet & American Life study has received a lot of publicity, but it can be linked to here. The key points are:

  • 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize others.
  • Two-thirds of internet users under the age of 30 have a social networking profile, and half of these use social networking sites to get or share information about politics or the campaigns
  • Barack Obama's campaign has the edge over John McCain and the Republicans, as he did over Hillary Clinton in the use of social media for political information, recruitment and fund raising.
The key question in Australia will be who will take the lead in the use of social media in political campaigning. The evidence of the 2007 Australian Federal election would suggest that it will be Labor, but there is surely more to be followed here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Are blogs elitist?

I am a chief investigator on a project team involved with the ARC Linkage project on Citizen Journalism in Australia. Our team put together the YouDecide 2007 citizen jounalism web site for the November 2007 Australian Federal election. I am currently preparing papers on this for the Creating Value: Between Commerce and Content conference to be held in Brisbane from 25-27 June 2008, and the Australia and New Zealand Communications Association conference in Wellington from 11-13 July 2008. My colleagues Axel Bruns, Barry Saunders and Jason Wilson have maintained a blog on the project called Gatewatching.

As a part of the project, we aim to have a monthly reading group to discuss relevant work in the field. One author whose work we have consdiered is Matthew Hindman from Arizona State University. Hindman is a sceptic about the democratising potential for political blogs, arguing that A-list bloggers are no less an elite than the political establishment, but are simply a different elite.

He has a book coming out soon called The Myth of Digital Democracy, but I have tracked one of his papers where the main arguments can be found.

Hindman's main arguments are:

First, just as in news traffic and in political traffic, blogs show a sharp divide between a small number of hyper-successful sites that get most of the visits, and a large number of barely-visited sites that get most of the remaining attention. Audience concentration among the most visited sites, and audience dispersion amongst the rest, is the general rule of blogging audiences. Second, the small set of bloggers who actually get read are not amateurs in any meaningful sense of the word. They are, to an extraordinary degree, elites of one form or an-


If the Internet provides novel mechanisms of political accountability, then, it is the
elite cast of online discourse that makes this possible. Whether a sharper divide between big and small outlets is good news for other democratic values—media diversity, a broad public sphere, and equal participation in civic debates—is a more doubtful prospect.
Axel Bruns has written a critique of Hindman's argument here, and I won't try to summarise them.

I am mulling this issue in my own head as I think about my conclusions on the YouDecide 2007 project and our impact. I will post the paper for comment shortly, but any thoguht on Hindman's argument would be much appreciated.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Left against Obama?

Just as libertarian conservatives are starting to look positively at Barack Obama's presidential campaign, the left is getting edgy that he is not really 'one of them'.

Naomi Klein in The Nation has weighed in, wondering whether Obama is appointing to his economic team acolytes of the late Milton Friedman and the 'Chicago School' of free market economics.

The key to this seems to be the appointment of Jason Furman, an economist from the University of Chicago, as part of a team that apprently support free trade and NAFTA:

Furman, a leading disciple of Rubin, was chosen to head the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project, the think tank Rubin helped found to argue for reforming, rather than abandoning, the free-trade agenda. Add to that Goolsbee's February meeting with Canadian consulate officials, who left with the distinct impression that they had been instructed not to take Obama's anti-NAFTA campaigning seriously, and there is every reason for concern about a replay of 1993.
The U.S. is not a country that appears to me to be in the grip of a free trade agenda. The weak $US means that American economic assets are very attractive to foreign investors, and the US needs foreign capital to deal with its trade and budget deficits, which are now about $340 trillion. Yet everything from ports to railways to The Chrysler Building to Budweiser beer is being declared off limits to foreigners for either 'national security' reasons or because it is an 'American icon'.

Acceptance of freer trade may not be a bad antidote to knee-jerk economic nationalism. I think it would be great, for instance, to let some foreign airlines like Singapore and Emirates fly the New York-Los Angeles route on a trial basis, as U.S. airline passengers now have an absurdly low level of expectations about the flying experience based on their local carriers, for fares that are not cheap by, say, Australian standards.

Klein argues that evidence exists that free market economics is in decline because 100 U. Chicago academics signed a petition against opening a Milton Friedman Institute in 2006. Frankly I wouldn't find his to be proof of anything. On any university campus anywhere in the world, you can get 100 academics to sign anything. If they resigned their position in protest, that would be more interesting.

At any rate, I doubt if Baack Obama's economic policies will be designed for the aging Marxist grey beards of the anorak left. As Obama makes the inevitable tilt to the centre that happens from the base-building primaries to the general election, I suspect more disappointment awaits the Nation-reading left.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Conservatives for Obama?

"If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism."
Ronald Reagan, interview with Reason magazine, 1975.

An intriguing article by Bruce Bartlett in The New Republic suggests that there may be more support among conservatives for Democrat presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama than might be first suspected.

This came via Andrew Sullivan, one of the more prominent bloggers to have gone from being a Republican supporter to an Obama supporter.

It is well known that there are a lot of conservatives unhappy with the Bush administration and the Republican Party, and their unhappiness remains with John McCain. These include supporters of the Libertarian Party led by former Republican Bob Barr, or those still supporting Ron Paul's ongoing campaign for the Republican nomination. The gist of this unhappiness is, as Bartlett observes, "they don't much care for the Iraq war or the federal government's vast expansion over the last seven-and-a-half years."

But Obama? He is criticised by some conservatives for being the most liberal senator in Washington, Jimmy Carter Mark II, a high taxer, an elitist etc.

The gist of the points made in Bartlett's article are:

  • Withdrawing from Iraq and scaling back the PATRIOT Act are key goal of libertarian conservatives, and Barack Obama has always been the candidate most committed to the first and far more likely than McCain to do the latter;

  • He comes across to some as the first Presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan to really believe in the independent capacity of Americans to initiate change for themselves. Whether this would in fact be true in an Obama presidency is another matter, but frankly people still debate that about Ronald Reagan, to decades after his presidency (see e.g. Sean Wilentz, The Age of Reagan). The point is that, like Reagan, he can rhetorically convey a faith in the better instincts of Americans that doesn't sound like calculated pandering to an interest group or particular constituency;

  • His election could trigger a purge at the top of the Republican Party. It took the Democrats over a decade to move from where they were in the Jimmy Carter days to a more centrist and electable position with Bill Clinton. Conservatives like Larry Hunter believe that its time for the same thing to happen to the Republicans: Obama has the potential to "scramble the political deck, break up old alliances, and bring odd bedfellows together in a new coalition."
  • From Hunter again (my favourite quote): he views the Republican Party as a "dead, rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of Weekend at Bernie's, handcuffed to a corpse." Unless the Republican Party is thoroughly purged of its current leadership, Hunter fears that it "will pollute the political environment to toxic levels and create an epidemic that could damage the country for generations to come."
The parallel to Ronald Reagan is the most interesting one. Reagan's is the most electorally successful, yet enigmatic, presidency of the last three decades. The interest of libertarian conservatives in Obama may be emblematic of a new set of divides from those forged during the Reagan era (conservatives versus liberals), to ones between personal freedom and state control.

If Obama can get US troops out of Iraq, repeal some of the more obnoxious attacks on civil liberties over the last eight years, and actually get some control over the budget deficit, then there's a bit there that libertarian conservatives could like. If his Presidency was in fact 'Jimmy Carter Mark II', the Republicans may come back in 2012 with a better candidate. After all, both Obama and Hillary Clinton were better Democrat candidates than John Kerry was, and that's seen in the primary votes they were both able to attract.


For those outside the U.S. who are unaware of just how much Barack Obama has moved from a Presidential candidate to a pop-culture phenomenon, check out this advertisement for a KIA car dealership:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Age of Reagan

I have just completed reading Sean Wilentz's The Age of Reagan: A History 1974-2008. This was to be my flight back to Australia read, but I got impatient. I finished reading it as a huge storm blew over Bloomington, so there may be a poetic analogy between that storm and the conservative uprising in US politics that is the subject of Wilentz's book.

Wilentz's key point is that just as the period in US history from the Great Depression to 1968 was an era of liberal reform, where Democrats dominated the presidency and those Republican presidents there were, such as Dwight Eisenhower, accepted the underlying premised of New Deal liberalism, the period from the mid-1970s to the present was a conservative era, dominated by Republican presidents, where Democrat presidents such as Bill Clinton had to adjust to conservative rules.

At the centre of this is Ronald Reagan, US President from 1980-1988, who was the standard bearer for conservatism prior to election, and who was the most electorally successful president of his time. The book's structure is complex, as it is not a biography of Reagan but also only partially a history of the period.

I will post further on The Age of Reagan, but it is worth noting the point made by Wilentz, who is personally a liberal democrat by political affiliation, that Ronald Reagan and his era have not been well served by authors. For those on the left, including much of the academy, it is almost as if it is too awful an era to go back to, as it is clearly the period when American liberalism got its most severe caning in the popular mindset and the political sphere. The right, however, don't do honest appraisal of the period, and hence fail to note how some of the failing of Reagan had within them the seeds of today's troubles in American conservatism and the Republican Party.

Well worth a read.

Monday, June 9, 2008

New revelations on Hurricane Katrina

Salon has carried a story on the Bush Administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005 which suggests that what transpired was worse than incompetence, but straight out political manipulation of the situation.

The author, Paul Alexander, argues that Karl Rove was given responsibility for managing the Federal Administration's response, and that Federal aid to the stricken city - most notably 500 buses that the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) had promised to provide - was withheld in order that the Democrat Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, would be held responsible for inaction in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.

For more, see here. It is an excerpt from a forthcoming book called "Machiavelli's Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove," published by Modern Times.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hillary Clinton concedes ... finally

Four days after the speech where she should have conceded the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton has finally does so. Let's hope to see less of Team Clinton - Bill, Lanny Davis, Terry McAuliffe, Paul Begala et al. - on the cable news channels. I think that Hillary has positioned herself to be the 'Health czar' in an Obama administration if he wins. There would be long odds on her beig the nomination for Vice-President.

The Economist has a pretty good summary of the Fall of the House of Clinton. Key points:

From the first most of her biggest advantages proved to be booby-trapped. Mrs Clinton stood head and shoulders above Mr Obama when it came to experience—she had been one of the two most influential first ladies in American history and had proved to be a diligent senator, a “work-horse, not a show horse”. But Mrs Clinton's “experience” included her decision to vote in favour of invading Iraq, a decision that was radioactive to many Democrats. And Mr Obama was the first to grasp that this is an election about change, not experience. Americans have had enough of experience in the form of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Seventy per cent of them say America is headed in the wrong direction.

The Clinton machine only exaggerated this problem. Mrs Clinton surrounded herself with familiar faces from her White House years—people like Mark Penn, her chief strategist, Terry McAuliffe, her chief fund-raiser, Howard Wolfson (one of the least helpful spokesmen this newspaper has ever encountered) and, of course, her husband. But these people were all deeply enmeshed in a Washington establishment that most voters despised.


The Clinton machine was too stuck in the 1990s to grasp how the internet was revolutionising political fund-raising. Mrs Clinton built the best fund-raising machine of the 20th century—persuading Democratic fat cats to make the maximum contributions allowable and accumulating a vast treasure trove of money. But Mr Obama trumped her by building the best fund-raising machine of the 21st century.

Mr Obama simultaneously lowered the barrier to entry to Obamaworld and raised expectations of what it meant to be a supporter. Mr Obama's supporters not only showered him with small donations. They also volunteered their time and enthusiasm. His website was thus a vast social networking site (one of his chief organisers was a founder of Facebook)—a mechanism not just for translating enthusiasm into cash but also for building a community of fired-up supporters. Mr Obama's small donations proved to be a renewable resource, as supporters could give several times, up to a maximum of $2,300. Mrs Clinton ran out of cash.


The Clinton campaign might well reply that this catalogue of failures ignores the fact that it was a very close run result. Mrs Clinton won almost exactly the same number of votes as Mr Obama (and claims to have won slightly more, though on a fair count she won fractionally less). She won most of the big states. She improved hugely as a campaigner after the reverses of February, and pulled off big victories in the final weeks of the campaign.

But given the scale of her advantages a year ago there is no doubt that the Clinton campaign comprehensively blew it. Mr Obama will now go on to fight the general election with his primary strategy vindicated and his campaign staff intact. Mrs Clinton has big debts and a brand that is badly tarnished.


And, during the campaign, Mrs Clinton has damaged not only her future but also her past. The Clintons were modernisers who argued that the Democratic Party needed to reinvent itself—embracing free-trade, investing in human capital and reaching out to upwardly mobile voters. During her inept bid Mrs Clinton fell back on all the worst instincts of Democratic politics—denouncing free trade, stirring up the resentments of blue-collar America, and adding a flirtation with racism to the brew. After such an unedifying performance, it is hard to believe that Mrs Clinton's failed campaign represents a missed opportunity for America.

The table accompanying this story indicates that Barack Obama had cemented himself as the preferred Democratic Party candidate in opinion polls by February, and maintained a 5-10% lead over Hillary Clinton from then on. It was really the vacillation of the so-called 'super-delegates', the question of what to do about the votes and delegates from recalcitrant states Florida and Michigan, and the view that Clinton was entitled to see the race out to the end that kept things going as long as they did.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Two Jerry Springers

The severe storms that hit Bloomington yesterday have knocked out half of my cable channels. So I have CNN, FOX, Comedy Channel and MTV (Shot of Love II, anyone?), but not the others.

Having the local FOX means that I can skip writing mid-afternoon for The Jerry Springer Show. Not something you should do regularly - the number of ads telling you to get off the couch and enrol in a course somewhere tell you something about its core demographic - but Jerry's show is now pretty baroque with a lot of on-stage props, including a guy with no legs who walks the stag on his hands, two muppets ('Tell it to the muppet!!'), and a guy who translates Appalachian drawl into mangled Spanish. My personal favourite is a large gorilla who sits in a corner off stage. This is presumably "the gorilla in the room that no-one talks about".

But a less known fact about Jerry Springer is that he is a lifelong Democrat who was Mayor of Cincinatti for two years in the 1970s. Being a Democrat and a Chicagoan, he found himself tonight being grilled by Sean Hannity on FOX NEWS about Barack Obama, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and Bill Ayres. Observing that the rest of the world doesn't care about Wright, Rezko and Ayres, Hannity replied:

"I don't care about the rest of the world. This is America."

To which Jerry replied:

"Its that sort of attitude that has got us in the troubles we are now in."

As they say on the afternoon show, "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry".

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's Barack Obama

After a Democratic Party primary season that went through all 50 U.S. states (and Puerto Rico and Guam) and saw about 37 million people vote, Barack Obama is the first ever African-American candidate for U.S. President.

Andrew Sullivan offers this acerbic commentary on Hillary Clinton's New York speech:

The speech tonight was a remarkable one for a candidate who has lost the nomination, though not remarkable for a Clinton. It was an assertion that she had won the nomination and a refusal to concede anything to her opponent. Classless, graceless, shameless, relentless. Pure Clinton.

Her narcissism requires that she deprive her opponent of a night, or a second, of gratification or attention. And she has now won, in her Bush-like version of reality, 18 million votes. Her invitation for her supporters to email their suggestions to her website is pure theater, a way of keeping herself in the spotlight and maneuvering her delegates to demand a second spot on the ticket. The way she is now doing this - by an implicit threat, backed by McCain, to claim that Obama is an illegitimate nominee if she does not get her way - is designed to humiliate the nominee sufficiently to wound him enough to lose the election.

Either way, she is clearly intent on getting Obama defeated this fall if she is not offered the vice-presidency. And if she gets the veep nod, the way she has gotten it will allow her to argue that a November loss was not her loss. It was his. And she will run again in 2012.

She will not go away. The Clintons will never go away. And they will do all they can to cripple any Democrat who tries to replace them. In the tent or out of it, it is always about them. And they are no longer rivals to Obama; they are threats.

This is not what Hillary Clinton's speech to supporters in New York sounded like:

How not to go green

Seven months into Kevin Rudd's Prime Ministership in Australia, and it looks like sections of the op-ed commentariat are jumping ship. Elizabeth Farrelly fires a pretty heavy spray against the Federal Labour government in today's Sydney Morning Herald.

Farrelly finds it hard to contain her impatience, not only with Rudd, but with the electorate. Lurking here is a funny understanding of strong leadership, which Farrelly wants as long as, and only if, it is to implement the policies she wants.

This leads to the following intriguing statement on citizenship:

And maybe that's just human nature. But human behaviour can change, and be changed by tax. So we must reject the bad parenting our leaders pathetically offer, demanding instead the tough love we need. Demand, for our own sake, the increased fuel prices that can make change smooth, not catastrophic. That's moral courage. That's citizenship.

I thought that citizenship was about people voting for their political representatives, and having a say on how they are taxed, and how their taxes are used. No taxation without representation, and all that.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not a climate change denier, I think that cutting fuel taxes at the moment is a dumb idea, and I think we need to be moving towards smaller cars, better public transport, better designed cities etc.

But the idea that citizenship is about leaders forcing policies on voters is precisely the way not to build an awareness of these issues, in my humble opinion.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Answering your own question

Big opportunity for media scholars from Geraldine Ferraro, in The Boston Globe. In Australia, you would package this in the form of an ARC Linkage. Problem is that I think the 'industry partner' has determined the answer before asking for the research.

Healing the wounds of Democrats' sexism
By Geraldine A. Ferraro May 30, 2008

LAST YEAR at the beginning of the presidential primary season, Democrats were giddy with excitement. Not only did we have an embarrassment of riches in our candidates but we had two historic candidacies to enjoy. Once and for all our country would show that racism and sexism were not part of our 21st-century DNA.

Here we are at the end of the primary season, and the effects of racism and sexism on the campaign have resulted in a split within the Democratic Party that will not be easy to heal before election day. Perhaps it's because neither the Barack Obama campaign nor the media seem to understand what is at the heart of the anger on the part of women who feel that Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly because she is a woman or what is fueling the concern of Reagan Democrats for whom sexism isn't an issue, but reverse racism is.

The reaction to the questions being raised has been not to listen to the message and try to find out how to deal with the problem, but rather to denigrate the messenger. Sore loser, petty, silly, vengeful are words that have dominated the headlines. But scolding and name calling don't resolve disputes. The truth is that tens of thousands of women have watched how Clinton has been treated and are not happy. We feel that if society can allow sexism to impact a woman's candidacy to deny her the presidency, it sends a direct signal that sexism is OK in all of society.

In response, a group of women - from corporate executives to academics to members of the media - have requested that the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University and others conduct a study, which we will pay for if necessary, to determine three things.

First, whether either the Clinton or Obama campaign engaged in sexism and racism; second, whether the media treated Clinton fairly or unfairly; and third whether certain members of the media crossed an ethical line when they changed the definition of journalist from reporter and commentator to strategist and promoter of a candidate. And if they did to suggest ethical guidelines which the industry might adopt.