Tag Archives: sexual abuse

Media getting the lashing they deserve

It hurts a bit to say this, but the so-called “mainstream media” are getting trashed — for the right reasons.

The media have been criticized for the slant of their coverage of news events, of politicians. Conservatives have labeled the MSM as tools of the liberal political establishment. I haven’t bought into that argument.

What’s happening now to the media, though, is an examination of a culture that seems to pervade it. We are witnessing the toppling of media heavyweights because of the way they behave toward women … allegedly.

Bill O’Reilly at Fox News: gone; Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS; he’s toast; Mark Halperin of MSNBC: he’s outta there; Glenn Thrush of the New York Times and MSNBC: he, too, is gone; Michael Oreskes of National Public Radio: see ya later.

What do these men have in common? They all were accused by women of making sexual advances on them, of committing acts of sexual harassment, of sexual abuse. The allegations include groping, prancing around in the nude, making inappropriate remarks … and some things I probably shouldn’t mention here because they’re in poor taste.

The word now is that media outlets are soul-searching. They are schooling their employees — the males at least — on how to behave, how to treat their female colleagues.

What gives this story its extra legs quite arguably is that the media have been covering the sexual misdeeds of others, namely politicians and entertainment tycoons. That coverage has exposed media companies — and the men who report and comment on others’ conduct — to the very revelations we have learned about their own behavior.

As Politico has reported: “We have robust policies in place and have become more focused on communicating those policies across the organization,” said New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha in an email. “In recent weeks, we’ve reminded employees of our Anti-Harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Non-Discrimination policies and we’ve highlighted the many ways an employee can raise an issue or file a complaint, including through an anonymous hotline.”

That’s fine. Now it’s time for the Times and other media outlets to root out the bad actors within their ranks immediately.

Bill Clinton paid the price for his misbehavior

We’re talking these days about sexual predation, abuse, assault, harassment. Men do behave badly at times. A number of men in powerful positions have been accused of that bad behavior.

I feel the need to set the record straight on one powerful man who once was in the news because of his misdeeds.

Republicans keep harping on former President Bill Clinton’s misbehavior while he was in the White House. They use that historical context to “defend” the actions of one currently prominent GOP politician, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who’s been accused of sexual abuse involving underage girls.

These Republicans, some of whom are friends of mine — and even a family member — wonder why President Clinton got a pass when he was messing around with Monica Lewinsky, a young White House intern in the late 1990s.

I must remind them: President Clinton got impeached. The House of Representatives — led by its GOP majority — impeached the president because he lied under oath to a federal grand jury that was snooping around, looking for something to stick to the president. The special counsel, Kenneth Starr, uncovered the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship, summoned the president to testify to the grand jury, asked him whether he had an sexual relationship with Lewinsky.

Clinton said “no.” That was untrue. Thus, the House had its grounds for impeachment: perjury. The president was humiliated. His wife became, shall we say, quite angry with him.

Did the president get off scot-free? Hardly. He paid a huge political price in the moment.

The U.S. Senate put him on trial. Senators acquitted him. Thus, the president was allowed to serve out the remainder of his second term in office.

Yes, there were other allegations. Clinton did settle with one of the accusers. He was stripped of his law license in Arkansas.

There’s no doubt that the former president has reclaimed his political standing. Time does have a way of putting some matters into different contexts.

However, the notion that Bill Clinton did not pay a price for his misbehavior is a canard those who still despise him are using to divert attention from the issue of the moment, which involves the conduct of the current crop of high-powered men.

Another media giant takes a header

I’m not going to venture too far out on the proverbial limb by making this declaration: Charlie Rose’s broadcast journalism career likely is over; he’s toast; he’s done, finished, a goner.

Sexual harassment and sexual abuse charges have brought down the former “CBS This Morning” co-host. CBS fired him today after allegations arose from eight women who said Rose pranced naked in front of them and made improper sexual advances. PBS also terminated its relationship with Rose, who had a late-night interview show on the public TV network.

The wave of reform continues to purge the media and the entertainment industry of men who behave badly. Yes, the political world also has been affected by this scourge. Women have accused Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of coming on to them when they were underage girls; U.S. Sen. Al Franken is facing pressure from political progressives to quit his office after two women have accused him of groping and unwanted kissing; U.S. Rep. John Conyers has acknowledged “settling” with women who accused him of harassment — but, in a weird statement, denies doing anything wrong.

I’m going to give Fox News credit for the way it handled the Bill O’Reilly matter. Women accused O’Reilly of bad behavior. The network where he worked as a talk-show host paid out big money to settle the complaints. It then suspended O’Reilly … and then it fired him.

The O’Reilly story, in my view, is what made Rose’s departure from CBS a done deal after the allegations came forth.

Where this all goes remains anyone’s guess. It well might end only when the last news media outlet gets rid of its last sexual predator; or when the last entertainment tycoon with similar proclivities is revealed.

As for the political world that is beginning to roil in this climate, it’s fair to wonder how many sudden “retirement” announcements we’re going to hear from pols who are overtaken by guilty consciences.

Something tells me many more men are going to be culled from the public stage.

Conway: Votes matter more than integrity?

Republicans all across Capitol Hill are singing the same verse: They believe the accusations that have been leveled at Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

They believe the women who have accused the Alabama candidate of making improper sexual advances on them when they were underage girls.

Is the senior policy adviser to Donald John Trump one of them? Apparently not!

Kellyanne  Conway has told “Fox & Friends” that the Trump administration wants Moore’s vote on tax cuts. It seems to matter little to the president or to Conway that they might be welcoming a pedophile to the Senate.

It’s his vote that counts more than any crime he might have committed back in the old days, when he was a deputy district attorney.

I feel the need to inform Conway — as if she needs informing — that Moore quite possibly will be denied a Senate seat even if he wins the special election in Alabama set for Dec. 12.

The Senate GOP leadership, virtually to a person, wants nothing to do with this guy. He has declared political war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Does the president’s policy guru think McConnell is going to surrender to this clown?

Moore faces huge hurdle

A remarkably fascinating aspect of this is how “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade actually challenged Conway’s assertion that the president is depending on Moore’s vote to enact a tax cut. He reminded Conway that McConnell has pulled his support, along with the Young Republicans. Indeed, Kilmeade has said some rather unkind things about Moore himself.

It’s still quite stunning — after nearly a year into the Trump presidency — to hear a leading presidential spokeswoman place raw politics above principle.

Beware of polls in Alabama

A word of caution may be in order.

Public opinion polling indicates that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore is falling farther behind his Democratic opponent, former federal prosecutor Doug Jones, in the race to join the World Greatest Deliberative Body.

A special election will occur in ‘Bama on Dec. 12. Moore has been swallowed up by a controversy involving whether he made improper sexual advances on young girls in the 1970s when he was a state prosecutor.

It’s been in all the papers, you know?

Be careful — very careful — about interpreting too much in these polls. You see, they at times can produce what political scientists call “phantom support” that manifests itself in voters being untruthful to pollsters.

Voters might be unwilling to say out loud to a pollster that they’re going to still vote for a guy who’s accused of pedophilia. Then they vote for the guy anyway. Indeed, this is why we call it a “secret ballot.” The fear is profoundly ridiculous, given that reputable polling firms do not reveal the identities of those they question about their voting preferences.

It’s all water over the proverbial dam anyway. Even if Moore manages to win the special election, I find if impossible for him to serve in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — against whom Moore has declared political war — likely will not allow him to take the oath and then tar the Republican Party with his very presence on Capitol Hill.

I’m just saying that as the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has shown us, the new normal in American politics has proven to be anything but normal.

This is meant as a defense of POTUS?

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders no doubt intended to mount a stout defense of the president of the United States.

It somehow seemed to fall a bit flat, sounded a bit hollow.

Sanders was asked about the accusation that Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken groped and kissed a TV news anchor when the two of them were on a USO tour in 2006. Franken — who hadn’t yet joined the Senate — has acknowledged doing it and has apologized for his actions.

What about the myriad accusations that have been leveled against Donald J. Trump? Sanders said they differ from what Franken has confronted.

According to the Huffington Post:

“I think that this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign,” Sanders said. “We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.”

“How is this different?” the reporter asked.

“I think in one case specifically, Sen. Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the president hasn’t,” Sanders replied. “I think that’s a very clear distinction.” 

Yep. There you have it. The president hasn’t admitted to anything … as if he ever admits to doing a single wrong thing.

To be fair, none of the allegations against Trump has been proved — although he was recorded on a 2005 audio recording all but acknowledging that he could grab women by their “p****” if he felt like it.

Bill Clinton should have quit? No … way!

Kirsten Gillibrand has ’em talking among Democratic Party officials and loyalists.

The U.S. senator from New York has said that President Bill Clinton should have resigned his office when it became known he was fooling around with a young female White House intern.

I could not possibly disagree more with Sen. Gillibrand.

She has been swept up in this “Me Too” movement spawned by the rash of sexual abuse/harassment/assault allegations that are swirling though the entertainment industry and the political world.

And of course we have Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls.

Back to President Clinton.

The president got impeached because he lied to a grand jury about the relationship he had with the intern. Republican House members said the lie rose to the level of an impeachable offense. So the House impeached him; the president stood trial on obstruction charges and was acquitted by the Senate.

Should he have quit … over that? It sounds to me as if Sen. Gillibrand is being swept up in a moment of frenzy.

Do I need to remind the senator that the intern was an adult when she was fooling around with the president? The relationship, while it was sickening, was a consensual one. The intern has gone on with her life. The president finished his two terms in office and has become a beloved figure among Democrats across the country.

Gillibrand’s statement has ’em talking within the Democratic Party. Fine. Let ’em talk, squawk and wail about whether the former president should have quit.

It was an embarrassing episode for the president and for the presidency. No one seriously doubts any of that. It also proved embarrassing for Republicans who were looking for any reason to impeach a detested Democratic president — who delivered it to them when he lied under oath to a federal grand jury.

The president paid plenty in the moment for his indiscretion and his effort to cover it up. That’s enough. President Clinton need not have resigned over it.

Yes, Mr. POTUS, pictures — and words — do matter

I now am utterly convinced that Donald J. Trump has no clue, none at all, about self-awareness and how someone with zero moral authority should refrain from speaking out on, um, morality.

The president wasted little time in tweeting a response to the accusation that U.S. Sen. Al Franken groped and kissed a woman without her consent. He referred to Franken as “Frankenstien” and said a picture is “worth a thousand words.”

Trump isn’t commenting via Twitter on that other guy whose alleged sexual misconduct is all the rage these days: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who is accused of assaulting underage girls when he was a 30-something prosecutor.

Imagine my (faux) surprise, will ya?

I concur with the president that what Franken did was inexcusable. It was reprehensible and the Minnesota Democratic lawmaker should be chastised in the strongest terms possible.

However …

Trump’s tweet flings the door wide open to conversation about his demonstrated lack of respect for women. He all but admitted on that infamous “Access Hollywood” audio recording that he groped women because his celebrity status made it so easy for him. He said he could grab them by their genital area.

The revelation about Trump’s behavior surfaced about a month before the 2016 presidential election. Lots of Americans were aghast and outraged by what he had said in 2005. In the end, it mattered little as Trump was elected anyway.

But now we’re getting some more buzz about women who say they have been sexually harassed and abused by the man who would become president of the United States.

Why the renewed interest in Trump’s own seedy, sordid past? Because the tweeter in chief just couldn’t resist popping off about something on which he has zero moral authority.

But, hey … he “tells it like it is.”

Disgraceful.

Yep, it’s harder to come down on those you respect

It’s time for an admission.

I am admitting that it is easy for me to criticize politicians I dislike, or even detest and that it’s harder to go negative against those I respect.

Thus, I am having a conflict of sorts as I watch this story about Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken play out. Franken has apologized for groping a woman in 2006 while the two of them were on a USO tour; it was before Franken became a member of the Senate. He was a mere comedian at the time of the incident.

The woman, TV news anchor Leann Tweeden, produced a picture of him groping her while she apparently was asleep. She didn’t consent to the groping or to the kiss that Franken reportedly laid on her. Tweeden has accepted Franken’s apology to her.

What gives me grief is that I grew to respect Franken’s performance as a senator. I agree with his politics and thought he had a bright future in politics.

I am now left to use past-tense verbs when talking about Franken. I no longer respect him or admire him. I don’t know how much of a future he now has in politics. Yes, it pains me to say all this.

Unlike the scandal that’s swallowing up Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the Senate from Alabama, this Franken story is giving me grief. I find myself writing critically of him while my teeth are clenched. I have no such difficulty while criticizing the likes of Donald J. Trump, or Roy Moore, or Newt Gingrich (when he was fooling around on his then-wife in the 1990s).

This time, I suppose that because the latest bomb to detonate involves a politician I formerly admired, that I should really drop the hammer on him … rhetorically, of course.

I am more than merely disappointed in Al Franken. I am outraged that he would betray those of us who once thought so highly of him.

Franken deserves to be censured … at minimum

Al Franken has acquitted himself surprisingly well in the U.S. Senate.

Until now.

The Minnesota Democrat has been snagged in a growing scandal involving members of Congress who have misbehaved badly in the presence of women. A television news anchor has come forth with an accusation that in 2006 Franken, before he was a senator, grabbed her and kissed her without her permission.

Franken has apologized for his conduct. He also says he remembers the incident — which occurred when the then-comedian was on a USO tour of the Middle East — differently from what the woman has alleged.

That is not good enough, senator.

The only aspect of this case that differs from the hideous accusations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore — who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls — is that the accuser was an adult when the incident occurred.

That doesn’t make it acceptable in any form or fashion.

You see, Franken is one of those lawmakers who likes to speak glowingly of his wife, their children and grandchildren. He presents himself as a devoted family man.

What should the Senate do? I think a censure is clearly in order. There ought to be a strong statement condemning one of the body’s colleagues — who until this week was actually discussed as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.

For those of us out here in Flyover Country who have admired the work he has done ever since he joined the Senate, Al Franken has just become a huge disappointment.