An MSNBC panel praised Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) for being "so authentic" after the 2020 candidate went viral for her answer to a campaign donor's question about same-sex marriage at a CNN town hall.
MSNBC analyst Zerlina Maxwell said Warren's viral zinger demonstrated how authentic she can be, and questioned whether a male candidate could have mustered such a response. "I don't know how a guy would have answered that question, but I think one of the things that's so great about that moment is it's just her authentic personality," Maxwell said.
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"So authentic," fellow analyst Lauren Leader said.
"I use the word authentic because we don't often associate that with women," Maxwell said. She argued that the word "authentic" is a "code language" to avoid saying something sexist about a female candidate.
"And so we say, ‘Well, I don't trust her.' Or, ‘she's not authentic.' I think that being yourself is the most empowering thing Elizabeth Warren is doing now," Maxwell said.
Leader credited Warren's success to her perceived authenticity.
"I think women today are embracing their imperfection or embracing their authenticity or being human, because they know that that's how women actually break through a lot of the bias that gets held against them," she said.
Host Craig Melvin played the viral clip from CNN's Equality town hall. The Warren donor asked the Massachusetts senator how she would react if a supporter told her he supported a traditional definition of marriage.
"Well, I'm going to assume it's a guy who said that and I'm going to say, ‘Then just marry one woman. I'm cool with that,'" Warren responded. "Assuming you can find one," she added, prompting laughter from the crowd.
CNN failed to disclose that the questioner donated the federal maximum to Warren's 2018 senatorial campaign. He does not appear to have donated to any of the other Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination.
Media outlets quickly jumped on the clip to lavish praise on Warren's response. However, Republicans and some Democratic strategists pushed back, calling the answer condescending. A Democratic strategist told the Washington Post that the quip was a "stab" to Warren's ideological opponents.