Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during the AFL-CIO Convention at the Downtown Sheraton Philadelphia on April 7, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photograph by William Thomas Cain—Getty Images
By Valentina Zarya
May 12, 2016

For Bernie Sanders, a female journalist asking pointed questions about Hillary Clinton apparently constitutes “moaning.”

During an interview earlier this week, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell tried to ask Sanders about his attacks on Clinton and how they could hurt the Democrats’ chances in a general election.

“Isn’t the bottom line between you and Hillary Clinton and who would be the stronger candidate, that she is now fighting a war on two fronts, getting beaten up by Donald Trump on a daily basis?” Mitchell asked. She noted that Sanders has largely managed to stay out of Trump’s warpath: “He has been embracing you, building you up, he likes the fact that you’re taking her down,” she said.

Sanders’ response? “Please do not moan to me about Hillary Clinton’s problems.”

“I don’t think I was moaning about Hillary Clinton’s problems,” Mitchell said, before showing Sanders a video of Trump using Sander’s words to attack Clinton.

Mitchell tweeted about the exchange after the interview, noting Sander’s “don’t moan to me” quote. Some media outlets and twitter users zeroed in on that phrase, saying that it smacked of sexism toward Mitchell.

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The Huffington Post‘s Jenavieve Hatch wrote that the word “moaning” has repeatedly been used to shut down women who are advocating for fair treatment, such as pay equality.

Was Sander’s response a sexist slam intended to imply that Mitchell is yet another nagging woman—or simply a politician looking for a way to avoid answering a journalist’s question? While that’s a matter for debate, one thing is certain: This election cycle is forcing America to pay close attention to how women are spoken to and written about in politics, whether it’s telling them to smile, complaining about their voices, or implying that they ask tough questions only during menstruation.

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