Thursday Reads: Sexual Harassment In The NewsPosted: October 26, 2017
As usual, there is no way I can address all of the ghastly news that is happening today in Trump’s America, so I’m not going to try. There is an unbelievable amount of horrible stuff happening. Let’s just stipulate that Trump has successfully instituted the “American Carnage” he talked about in his Inauguration speech.
So I’m just going to focus on one topic today, and leave it to you to add more in the comment thread.
Recently sexual harassment has become big news because of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Then, as victims became empowered, accusations were leveled against other powerful men. The latest to stand accused are “journalist” Mark Halperin and former POTUS George H.W. Bush.
Veteran journalist Mark Halperin sexually harassed women while he was in a powerful position at ABC News, according to five women who shared their previously undisclosed accounts with CNN and others who did not experience the alleged harassment personally, but were aware of it.
“During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me,” Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesday night. “I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.”
MSNBC announced that Halperin would no longer be an analyst on NBC or MSNBC, where he regularly appeared on Morning Joe. More from the CNN story:
Widely considered to be one of the preeminent political journalists, Halperin, 52, has, among other career highlights, been political director at ABC News; co-authored the bestselling book “Game Change,” which was made into an HBO movie starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin; and anchored a television show on Bloomberg TV. He is featured in Showtime’s “The Circus,” a show that chronicled the 2016 campaign cycle and the early days of the Trump presidency, and has a project in development with HBO, which, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.
The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will. Three of the women who spoke to CNN described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. Halperin denies grabbing a woman’s breasts and pressing his genitals against the three women.
One specific example from the article:
The first woman told CNN she was invited to visit his office in the early 2000s, when he was political director at ABC News, to have a soda, and said that while she was there with him he forcibly kissed her and pressed his genitals against her body.
“I went up to have a soda and talk and — he just kissed me and grabbed my boobs,” the woman said. “I just froze. I didn’t know what to do.”
When she did make her way out of his office, the woman told a friend at ABC News what had happened. That friend told CNN she remembered the woman telling her about the incident and seeing her visibly shaken.
Much more at the CNN link.
George H.W. Bush was accused by actress Heather Lind of sexually assaulting her. CNN:
“…when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo,” the post went on to say. “He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again.”
A Bush spokesman responded in part:
“At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures,” McGrath said. “To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”
Last night Deadspin reported: Second Woman: George H.W. Bush Groped Me.
Jordana Grolnick, a New York actress, has a story to tell that doesn’t sound very different at all [from what Lind described]. “I got sent the Heather Lind story by many people this morning,” Grolnick says. “And I’m afraid that mine is entirely similar.”
Rumors about Bush groping actresses in this manner have been circulating for a while. More than a year ago, a tipster passed word about the Heather Lind incident to Deadspin. We were told that Bush had, during a photo opp, groped her and told her that his favorite magician was “David Cop-a-Feel” while fondling her.
(Reached for comment, Bush spokesperson Jim McGrath provided the following statement: “At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”)
More detail from Grolnick:
In August 2016, Grolnick was working at a Maine production of Hunchback of Notre Dame. The former president, who summers in nearby Kennebunkport and frequents this theater, caught a performance. He came backstage during an intermission, she says, and she and the rest of the cast gathered for a photo with him.
Grolnick now says that other actors had told her before the photo that Bush had a reputation for fondling during photo ops, but she didn’t take it seriously.
“I guess I was thinking,” she says, “‘He’s in a wheelchair, what harm could he do?’”
Then her question got answered.
“We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him,” she says. “He reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, ‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’”
Bush is a very old man. Perhaps he has frontal lobe damage or dementia. It might be time for him to stop appearing in public.
Good old Scott Brown has already gotten into trouble after Trump appointed him Ambassador to New Zealand. Yesterday Stuff.com reported: US ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown faced complaints over ‘cultural misunderstanding.’
Speaking to Stuff with wife Gail Huff at his side, Brown confirmed there had been an official “administrative inquiry” into his conduct at a Peace Corps event in Samoa in July.
It related to an official complaint about comments he made when arriving at the event, when he told some of the guests they looked “beautiful”. There had also been a complaint about a comment he made to a woman serving food and drink that she could make hundreds of dollars in the hospitality industry in the US, Brown said.
That was the extent of the complaints, and the inquiry had concluded with a warning that he should be more culturally aware, Brown said….
“When we walked into the Peace Corps event we walked in and there was a receiving line and prior to walking they were all like dirty and grungy … We walked in and everyone was dressed to the nines. They all looked great, Gail looked great, you know I was dressed up and Gail and I both walked in and said ‘you guys are beautiful, you look really handsome sir, you guys are great’. And apparently somebody took offence to that.
“Fine…I did say it. Gail and I did say it absolutely.”
The Guardian this morning: Scott Brown: more complaints surface over behaviour of US ambassador to New Zealand.
Over the past two months,…the Guardian has spoken to various witnesses who attended the party and who claim the behaviour of the ambassador – the first appointed by the US president, Donald Trump – was worse than he has admitted.
It is understood that two complaints under investigation by the US state department against Brown originally came from two female peace corps volunteers who were at the event, and who served food and drink to the guests as a way to flip the cultural norm of Samoans serving westerners.
There are also other complaints that the ambassador’s behaviour was “shocking”, “culturally insensitive”, “rude” and “undiplomatic”. The Guardian contacted more than a dozen people who attended the party and spoke to a number who said he had made them feel uncomfortable.
One woman told the Guardian that Brown allegedly stared at her body when she was introduced to him. She did not want to be identified, but said: “The first time I met him, he looked at my chest immediately.” She alleged that another female colleague had a similar experience.
“I felt immediately uncomfortable and it didn’t feel right,” she said.
A bit more:
A male former peace corps volunteer described a strained atmosphere developing at the party as the ambassador shouted at guests to be quiet and listen to him. “It was very culturally insensitive,” he said. “He just did multiple things in 15 seconds that really put me off, and looking around [I] saw it put off a lot of other people as well.
“At least twice, maybe three times, he was telling everybody: ‘Stop talking, be quiet, listen to me.’”
Another former peace corps volunteer called Brown’s speech “really pompous and sort of shocking”. The man, who again did not want to be named, said he approached Brown after his speech, hoping to gauge the man representing his country.
He described their exchange as candid, and claimed Brown became aggressive when he mentioned he was disappointed by Trump’s actions following his inauguration. Brown angrily told him to get over it, he said.
“A lot of people were really upset by the tone of his speech that night,” said another attendee. “He was rudely shouting everyone down. After the speech I was so put off I didn’t approach him. I wanted no personal contact with him.”
Another former peace corps volunteer who attended the party told the Guardian: “I know someone who works at the US embassy … and he said Scott went totally off the book [in the speech].
“He said something like: ‘When Kennedy started the peace corps 100 years ago’, so it seemed he didn’t really know what he was talking about.”
And yet the pussy-grabber-in-chief is still POTUS and no one is investigating him for sexual misconduct.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?