Two Images Show the Double Standard of Tonight's Presidential Debate

September 26th 2016

Almie Rose

Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are set to face-off in their first debate Monday night.

Just like any major on American television, the broadcast networks are laying out "keys to success" for the combatants.

But in this case, the "tasks" aren't just banal, they're catching flack from Twitter for being unbalanced and possibly sexist.

The Tweet

Twitter user "southpaw" (‏@nycsouthpaw) tweeted side-by-side screenshots from MSNBC to highlight the unevenness of what is expected from Clinton vs. Trump.

Clinton's Tasks

The full image of "Clinton's tasks" reads that Clinton needs to

  • "Sell her presidency (what she would do, and how she would do it)"
  • "Be the Clinton who shines in a smaller crowd"
  • "Get those jokes off, adding levity"

Trump's Tasks

By comparison, here are Trump's "tasks":

  • "Stop lying"
  • "Show humility"
  • "Fill in the gaps in his policy proposals"

The disparity between what is expected of Clinton compared to what is expected of Trump has been commented on all throughout this election, from Twitter's critique of Matt Lauer's Town Hall moderation to Clinton's apparent need to explain her persona to the Humans of New York Facebook page.

What it all comes down to, Twitter users are pointing out, is an unfair treatment that amounts to nothing more than sexism, especially considering how low the bar has been set for Trump, who is asked to do little more than "stop lying."

The Trump Standard

The low expectations set for Trump certainly foster the belief among many women that they have to work twice as hard in order to earn half as much recognition as men.

But more than just higher standards set for Clinton, and women in general, the tasks set for Trump also reflect the low bar he's set for himself.

News outlets have depicted Trump as a once in a lifetime candidate. The Washington Post reported that he "lies constantly." Vanity Fair wrote about the pointless endeavor that is attempting to fact-check the candidate.

He's a divisive candidate not only among all voters, but among members of his own party.

Key republicans have switched their support from Trump to Clinton. Some have switched and then switched back, like Ted Cruz, who seems to have aligned his support with Trump again not because he thinks Trump is a terrific candidate, but because he resides in the "never Hillary" camp.


However, whether or not the tasks set out for Trump and Clinton will actually help them score a win in the eyes of the voters, or just satisfy the media's expectations, is yet to be seen.