May 22nd, 2008
08:25 PM ET

Gag gifts from the political desk

Steve Brusk
CNN Sr. Assignment Editor

On a network political assignment desk, you never know what you'll be asked to find. Sound of a Barack Obama speech in Illinois from 10 years ago? Sure, no problem. A place to feed tape in Crow Agency, Montana... we're on it.

But some requests you just don't expect. Or want to own up to.

Like this week when AC360° Senior Producer Barclay Palmer asked us for a Hillary Clinton Nutcracker.

You see the item sold at novelty shops and online. For some, it's just one of many stupid but innocuous items from the campaign trail. For others, there's nothing funny about it – a sign of sexism and misogamy directed towards Clinton and her candidacy. Chelsea Clinton campaigning for her mother several times has referred to it as sexist attitudes she's witnessed in the campaign.

This week, Candy Crowley reported on how the Clinton campaign has discussed the impact of sexism on the campaign. Senator Clinton discussed it in a Washingtonpost.com interview this weekend, saying, "the manifestation of sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable or at least accepted. And I think there should we equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when and if it ever raises its ugly head. But it does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by comments and reactions of people who are nothing but misogynists." She called her treatment by the media "deeply offensive to millions of women."

And for the story, Candy needed a shot of the "nutcracker". Rumor had it the political unit might actually have one of them around.

My first response to Barclay's request was "I don't know what you are talking about. Certainly we would not have any items like that at the political desk. But in the interest of research, I unofficially may know where the object in question can be found."

I had to admit one was in a drawer at the desk. Anything for a story. The shows needs it shot – we always deliver.

The truth is, we got it months ago as a gag gift. One of dozens of trinkets from the trail... something we literally shoved in the back of a storage area. We love any souvenir that's political-related, from bumper stickers and signs to bobble heads and silly items. Any political message is the LAST thing we care about – like children, we just like toys.

So why I was a little embarrassed bringing it up to the supervising producer's desk to arrange a studio camera?

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Marc Minnesota

    Look up Saul Alinsky who was a 60'S radical for Bobby Kennedy ....wrote about "pick a target , polorize it, free it",meaning whatever you got to do to get elected. She wrote her senoir thesis on Alinsky. He is considered a radical.

    May 23, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  2. Kathy, Andover

    I bought one myself a couple of months ago. My reason was plain & simple: it's funny!

    May 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm |
  3. Spider

    Kathy S-

    Just a "gag gift" makes it OK?

    What if it was a salt and pepper shaker set of Hillary and Barack?

    Just a gag gift, didn't mean to offend anyone.

    That "nappy headed" comment. Just a gag, didn't mean to offend anyone.

    One of two things going on here. Sexism is OK, racism isn't. Or, people of color are too sensitive.

    May 23, 2008 at 9:53 pm |
  4. Kathie,Ontario. Canada

    Have you found a sexist Obama doll that says .. Just a second Sweetie, when you ask it a question?

    May 23, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  5. Mary

    A church is a composite of its members. Senator Obama sat in that Black Liberation Theology Church for 20 years. He believes the teachings of that church. Its teachings is embeded in his mind, heart and soul and he can not erase that.
    It would be great if that man was honest about just one thing.
    Sexist and racial motivated gag gifts are not cute, funny or wise. It is stupidity.

    May 23, 2008 at 12:18 pm |
  6. Danny

    That's very stupid MEDIA your guy so stupid in this country your guy not
    American at all and your guy make this country divided now. Go for it support Obama he's your crybaby and give him a free ride.

    May 23, 2008 at 11:43 am |
  7. Paula

    The greatest problem the US faces is that politicians have supported ideas and beliefs that are in direct opposition to the Bibical foundation of our country. Unfortunately, our country allowed the idea of "equal rights" to gradually rot the roots of truth. In my opinion, "equal rights" is about giving rights to those who have been unfairly discriminated against. However, this does not mean that all people have "equal rights." Those who break the law of man which was founded on the Law of God do not receive equal rights such as marriage. Our country is being destroyed by the "Sodom and Gomorrah" sins and the gods of other people. Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed for their sin. Why would one not think that our country will not suffer the same consequences? God is the same today as he was yesterday. It all comes down to this: sinners want their sin to be approved and accepted but the truth is that no man can make sin acceptable. No amount of laws or approvals will change the fact that sin is sin. So when a Christian speaker denounces sin and predicts or confirms the possibility of punishment for such actions, why does so many people get uptight? Why should a politician have to denounce his relationship to a Christian leader who opposes sin? All Christians oppose behavior that goes against Bibical teachings. So here it is folks (because I am a Christian and believe that the Bible was and is the true Word of God): HOMOSEXUALITY IS WRONG!! THE REMOVAL OF CHRISTIANITY AND PRAYER FROM SCHOOLS just because it offends people who worship other gods is wrong!! Let me get this straight, I do not hate those who are homosexual or those who worship other gods but I refuse to allow them to put Christianity in a closet so they can do what they want to my country.

    May 23, 2008 at 2:43 am |
  8. Jimmy D.

    I am strongly against any kind of sexism, but what I don't get is people being mad at Obama because Clinton has been criticized by the media. I mean do you think Obama has that much power over the media? He just happened to be a very likable guy especially at the beginning of his campaign. Being mad at Obama because of what the media or some nutjob out there with a few brain cells is doing, is like being mad at your sister because your mom punished you and not her (if that makes any sense). Now, personally I don't think there's any particulate media network that supports Obama. Have you seen Glenn Beck, or Lou talking about him? I mean they would be fired by now if their job was to support him. But I'm not dumb either, I've been one of the first of my friends to say the media is in love with that guy. However, I will blame whoever is trying to make this path hard for H. Clinton but if you're going to be mad at least be mad at the person who is actually doing it, don't direct your anger towards Obama.

    May 23, 2008 at 1:54 am |
  9. Eileen Myles

    Is there anything to debate about whether a female candidate turned into a toy to bust nuts is anything but offensive. Would you want your kid to play with a female doll that busts nuts. It's kind of right up there with Sambo and Aunt Jemima dolls. These are condidered racist kitsch and inappropriate. But somehow opening a woman's legs, a woman whose making a bid for the highest office in the land is kind of a minor joke. Even forget about race. Can we shove something up a male candidate's rear end as a kind of cute quip of some sort. The idea of the doll is to turn a woman of power into a ho. That's the joke. The kind of slightly embarrassed but shrugging post that opened this volley is evil in it's banality. Golly Gee that's how it is in this man's world. Somebody's got something to prove about their own masculinity, Andy Boy.

    May 23, 2008 at 12:26 am |
  10. Pat M

    In all fairness the Leaders weren't looking for the support. A Leader was looking for the support, Obama. McCain renouced Hagee's support. Obama wrote a book on his Pastor's Sermon and Wisdom and now that American's think he's the next best thing since sliced bread, he denounced his Pastor and threw him under the bus!

    I guess the moral to that story is A Friend is only as True as His Word.

    May 23, 2008 at 12:09 am |
  11. Brenda Wilson

    It is about time that our leaders stop looking for support from these extreme church leaders i.e., Hagee and Wright. If this keeps on I can see our country being run by extreme, hateful right wing religions full of hate and agents of intolerance. Our politicians are so concerned about the endorsements of these hateful, intolerant religious fanatics such as Hagee and Wright. What happened with the seperation of church and state? We need to stop pointing our fingers at Islam and claiming that it is a violent religion and being critical of their clerics for being the power behind the politicians. We need to seperate the bond between church and state in the US.

    May 22, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
  12. Pat M

    It's unbelievablel how many grammatical and spelling errors are made in these reports! Just sayin.

    But more importantly, deb in az has my Vote for Pres! America needs a President who knows how to tell the truth as there hasn't been one for a long, long, time. And a President that is able to see through the outter shell of a Chamelion and confirm there is nothing within. Yes, I believe deb in az is the Candidate to beat! Go deb. I'll take Truth over Consequences in any election!

    May 22, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  13. erma


    come on it's a race, all props to hillary, she ran a great race,

    she lost, stop trying to change the rules at the end of the game.

    not a good example for the children.

    May 22, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  14. deb in az

    this confirms what i have thought for months about you folks over there..........you are no longer a fair reporting agency.......just call yourselves the bho network.....you can have obama and his racist bigot minister.........all your shows on racism.........you along with him have put this in to play..........all you women that work for cnn ought to check yourselves out.......as usual what is the saying behind every great man stands a good woman.......why should women be on the back burner? this man will not win and yet you have the stupidity to back him........any democrat in their right mind will not vote for this man and race has nothing to do with it.......he shouts change and has no idea how to make it happen....we really want someone like this to run the country.........someone who would rub elbows with terrorists..... who knows what he will say to them........just like the candians with nafta.........i think that the media thinks that all this will go away..........think again .......people are not as stupid as you think

    May 22, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  15. Kathy S

    Perhaps that is exactly what it was – a "gag gift".

    Not meant to offend anyone. What about the boxing Hillary? Was that sexist also? Or was it meant to show her fighting spirit.

    Sometimes people read tooooooooo much into stupid things.

    May 22, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  16. Journey

    "a sign of sexism and misogamy directed towards Clinton and her candidacy."

    "Misogamy" is the hatred of marriage. I'm thinking you mean "misogyny."

    May 22, 2008 at 8:44 pm |
  17. Heather L.

    Strange, but you didn’t mention what gag gift you came up with that was equally as offensive, but race related. Somehow I am not surprised that you didn’t bother.

    BTW, I heard the Obama campaign is throwing a big nomination celebration bash on June 3rd at the CNN Atlanta headquarters. After finding out about this I wonder how many people will still believe that CNN is not in the tank for Obama.

    It will be interesting to see if you have the balls to print this comment.

    May 22, 2008 at 8:38 pm |