MATTHEWS: Women politicians standing up to presidents, and how the media treated them

As usual, there was high drama in Washington, D.C., last week, and it centered around a White House meeting on Syria that went south fast.

Democrat House and Senate leaders stormed out of the meeting and right into the waiting arms of reporters eager to find out what happened.

“[President Trump] was insulting, particularly to the speaker,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed.

“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown, sad to say” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) added.

It was her description of him as having a “meltdown” that prompted Trump to post an image to his Twitter account hours later of Pelosi standing up in a room full of men, finger pointed at Trump as he remained seated.

Trump described the picture as “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!”

In response, Pelosi’s staff made the picture her cover photo on her Twitter page. Praise poured in from Democrats for Pelosi for “standing up” against the president.

The national media, of course, swooned.

MSNBC’s Lester Holt reported, “The photo instantly [became] a new and powerful symbol of their power struggle.” Colleague Andrea Mitchell gushed that Pelosi “immediately turned it into a badge of courage and her cover photo.”

CNN journalist Dana Bash couldn’t get enough of the image. “I mean, look at that photo of one woman standing up and, you know, giving it to the president of the United States at a table of all men there. I mean, of course she’s going to own that.”

The media, naturally, were willing to help her “own that,” too.

But images of a woman standing up to a president haven’t always been treated with such reverence by the mainstream media, and we don’t have to reach back decades for examples.

A photo was taken in 2012 of then-Gov. Jan Brewer, an Arizona Republican, during a brief interaction she had with President Barack Obama on an airport tarmac in Phoenix.

Brewer was pointing her finger in Obama’s face as he stood over her, looking down at her slightly due to his height advantage.

“Who have you ever seen talking to the president like this?” NBC’s Brian Williams wondered at the time.

The Mercury News reported: “Finger-wagging Arizona governor says Obama was the disrespectful one.”

“Should Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer apologize for pointing her finger in President Obama’s face?” was a poll question on MSNBC’s website.

“Even if you don’t like someone, you don’t do that. That’s the general consensus,” noted a concerned Don Lemon on CNN.

Jonathan Capehart, columnist for the liberally biased Washington Post, was outraged. “A lot of people saw it as her wagging her finger at this president who’s also black, who should not be there,” he asserted, clearly appalled.

They’ll tell you “context matters” here, but that’s simply not true.

For example, the context for most Republican criticism of Obama was legitimate disagreement over his policy ideas, but the media had different ideas.

At the bare minimum, they treated criticism of Obama as Republicans reflexively trying to “obstruct” the agenda of a man whom the media adored. At worst, they painted the criticism as boiling down to racism, as if Republicans would have treated a white Democratic president with the same ideas (Obamacare, etc.) any differently.

So even if the situations between Brewer and Obama versus Pelosi and Trump were exactly the same, Brewer still would have gotten the same nasty treatment.

“The news media hails Speaker Pelosi as a hero for pointing her finger at President Trump but when I stood up to Barack Obama I was vilified as rude and racist. Such hypocrites!” Brewer tweeted Thursday.

Unfortunately, she’s right. The press has one standard for Republicans and a completely different and far more accommodating standard for Democrats.

Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.