The Republican National Committee continued its confrontational posture toward media organizations on Wednesday, with a top spokeswoman accusing a liberal columnist of sexism.
With a pair of tweets, RNC press secretary Kirsten Kukowski lashed out at the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky for a column on the GOP’s problems with women voters.
“In story that drips with sexism, @mtomasky tells me how to talk to women,” Kukowski wrote.
She followed it up with another shot at Tomasky moments later.
“Apparently @mtomasky believes the only people who can talk about women are democrats… and him #waronconservativewomen,” she added.
Tomasky opened his piece by recapping Kukowski’s appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday, when she struggled to respond to questions about her party’s solution to close the gender pay gap.
He wrote that he “almost felt a little sorry” for Kukowski.
“Kirsten, I’ve been there,” Tomasky wrote. “All of us who’ve done television have—those moments when you know you’ve got nothing, so you keep talking and talking, saying nothing, larding your sentences down with ‘you know’s and ‘uh’s, wondering if the viewers can see your face turning red, praying that any second now you’ll hear the host say, ‘Sorry, we’re out of time.'”
He went on to suggest that the GOP’s opposition to legislation like the Democratic-backed Paycheck Fairness Act is cultural, due to “all those Southern men and their Southern beliefs and ways” still holding a prominent place in the party.
Tomasky seemed nonplussed when he was first reached for comment about Kukowski’s criticism.
“This is for the record?” he told TPM in an email. “Are you serious?”
In a subsequent email, Tomasky said that Republicans shouldn’t be so concerned with his work.
“I think they ought to spend more time worrying about why their party has opposed just about every equal pay bill in recent history,” Tomasky said.
Kukowski told TPM in an email that she doubts Tomasky “lay[s] it on that thick that he ‘feels sorry’ for men.”
She said the “unquestionable sexist thing” in the column came when Tomasky referred to the four Republican senators who supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 — all women — as “girls.”
Tomasky, it should be noted, placed the word in quotation marks, as if it to highlight their reduced status in the GOP. Here’s the passage.
Kukowski had nothing to say because George W. Bush sat in the White House for eight years, six of them with a compliant Republican Congress, and never passed or that I can recall even introduced or even talked about one bill aimed at workplace gender fairness. She had nothing to say because since Barack Obama became president, the Republicans have voted no no no on any measure of this sort. Four Senate Republicans did vote aye on Lilly Ledbetter back in 2009. Yep, you guessed it: the “girls”—Collins, Hutchison, Murkowski, Snowe. Not a single man. In the House, Ledbetter got three.
Kukowski also took issue with Tomasky’s account from a “morning-after breakfast” that followed a wedding he attended in the “Deep South” back in 1990. Tomasky wrote that the southern male attendees all introduced and spoke on behalf of their wives. Those on the “Yankee half of the room,” Tomasky wrote, “stared at each other in disbelief” before they introduced themselves individually.
Kukowski told TPM the anecdote “was filled with odd judgment of women.”
“It’s amazing how Democrats react when Republican women stand up to their hypocrisy and demagoguery,” she said in the email. “It’s like they believe the only people who can talk about women’s issues are themselves.”
The RNC has made a recent habit out of aggressively taking on media outlets.
Late last month, RNC chairman Reince Priebus demanded and received an apology from Ebony after one of the magazine’s editors referred to a black RNC staffer as a “White dude.”
Two months before that, Priebus called for a boycott of MSNBC after a tweet from the cable news channel said that the “rightwing” might hate a Super Bowl ad from Cheerios that featured a biracial couple. MSNBC president Phil Griffin quickly apologized and said he fired the staffer behind the tweet.
Last year, Priebus raised objections to planned productions about Hillary Clinton on CNN and NBC. The networks eventually dropped the projects.
This post has been updated.