There's a recent article in The Atlantic titled "What if Rand Paul Were a Woman?" which starts like this:
Rand Paul’s acolytes often claim the senator gets marginalized because of his ideas. It’s because he’s a libertarian, they say, that he’s not treated fairly by the media. It’s a hard argument to make. Paul is a staple of the mainest of all mainstream media, the Sunday shows, and widely considered a top-tier presidential contender by middle-of-the-road analysts.
But let’s imagine the junior senator from Kentucky were a woman. Not just any woman—let’s call her Randi—but, for the sake of this argument, a beautiful woman. The “men want to sleep with her, women want to be her” echelon of physical attractiveness. Everything else is identical: self-certified eye doctor, first-term senator, and she got the job with a boost from her father.
Read it. It's funny, but it's accurate. Why does anyone pay attention to Rand Paul? But he's a darling of the media. (Of course, he'd be a darling of the media as a woman, too, but he'd also be a national joke.)
I suspect that this ties in to my other pet peeve, that political pundits face no downside for being wrong - even for being repeatedly, consistently wrong. You see the same people on national TV - being taken seriously - who've been consistently wrong about pretty much everything... for decades.
Yet they still have a job. They're still given a soapbox on national news networks. For a political pundit, there simply seems to be no downside to being wrong, even repeatedly.
Rand Paul seems to be taken seriously by the mainstream media in much the same way. For some reason, he's considered to be a serious politician with a real future,... no matter what he says. I suppose he looks like a young, ambitious politician who's really going places. And he rides on his father's coattails (Ron Paul being very popular with the media, himself).
And he's a man. I don't want to make too much of this, but face it, he'd probably be Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann if he were a woman. (And he'd probably be Louie Gohmert if he looked like Louie Gohmert. Even as a man, appearance probably has a lot to do with it.)
Note: My thanks to Jim Harris for the link.