In a conversation with Andrew Goldman in the New York Times Magazine this weekend, Mika Brzezinski has some harsh words for her female colleagues in the television news business:
In your book, “Knowing Your Value,” now in paperback, you write that every TV executive who has ever insulted your appearance has been a woman. Is there no sisterhood in television news?
No, there isn’t. Women play into each other’s weaknesses. Women worry about being liked, about making sure everyone’s comfortable in the room and about being seen as bitchy. We worry about that stuff, and it gets in the way of the goal that we’re trying to accomplish at the negotiating table.
Obviously this is a bit internally contradictory—you can’t both be worrying about pleasing everyone and shivving every lady within knifing distance. But it doesn’t seem precisely implausible that in an industry with a lot of male executives—7 of MSNBC’s 11 executives—and, Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris-Perry notwithstanding, a sense that women fit into certain slots and have to look certain ways, women might get competitive with each other in ways that could turn from the professional to the personal. Women are entirely capable of doing (or as we’ve seen in this television season, producing) bad, sexist things. And there is a core contradiction in the idea that we’re supposed to be all sisterhood is powerful and also be more assertive and look out for our own because no one will do it for us. And of course, this is a clever way for Brzezinski to suggest that it’s other women in the media who are a problem. Some days, being a woman in the media is like living in an Escher painting of infinitely looping wrong moves and second-guesses.