During an interview with the Washington Examiner, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump defended Fox News Chief Roger Ailes, saying he thinks the charges are unfounded based on what he’s “read”.
I kid you not:
“I think they are unfounded just based on what I’ve read,” said Trump. “Totally unfounded, based on what I read.”
Ok. Roger Ailes has been accused of sexual harassment by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. She has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was fired in retaliation for saying no to her boss’s demands for sexual subservience and due to her objection to “severe and pervasive sexual harassment”.
What could Donald Trump have read that would have convinced him that this suit is unfounded?
Did he read the New York Magazine story about the six other women who said they, too, had been sexually harassed by Roger Ailes? Four of whom told the author, Gabriel Sherman, for a 2014 biography on Ailes that the Fox News chief “had used his position of power to make either unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate sexual comments in the office.”
Did Trump read the part about the “more than a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s New Jersey–based attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, and made detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes over a 25-year period, dating back to the 1960s, when he was a producer on The Mike Douglas Show” from the same article?
What about all of these women’s stories is so easy to dismiss as “unfounded”?
Did Trump read this excerpt in which retaliation for refusal to be Ailes’ play thing was obvious:
A week or two later I went in and mentioned to him I was going down to D.C. the following week to sign a major contract with the National Republican Congressional Committee. He said, “I’m going to be in D.C. too. Would you like to have dinner before you go in?” So we had a nice dinner at a restaurant in Union Station. There was nothing untoward about it at all. He had a driver and a car, and after dinner he said, “Can I take you to your friend’s?” So we get in the car and that’s when he said, “You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys.” I was so taken aback. I said, “Gosh, I didn’t know that. How would that work?” I was trying to kill time because I didn’t know if he was going to attack me. I was just talking until I could get out of the car. He said, “That’s the way it works,” and he started naming other women he’d had. He said that’s how all these men in media and politics work — everyone’s got their friend. I said, “Would I have to be friends with anybody else?” And he said, “Well, you might have to give a blow job every once in a while.” I told him I was going to have to think about this. He said, “No, if you don’t do it now, you know that means you won’t.”
The next morning I show up to get my assignment and was told the guy I was supposed to be meeting with was unavailable. Back in New Jersey, I got a call from Roger Ailes. He said, “How’d your meeting go?” I said, “Actually, he wasn’t available and I’m hoping to hear back from him.” He said, “Ah, well, I’m sure you will. Have you changed your mind yet?” I said, “I’ll have to pass, Roger. I’m married and really committed to my husband. No offense.” He said, “Well, we’ll be in touch.” And that was that. A couple weeks later, I called a friend who was very high up in the RNC and I asked him what happened. He said, “Word went out you weren’t to be hired.”
Did Trump read the other allegations – heartbreaking and triggering to anyone who has experienced sexual harassment, and let’s face it, if you’ve worked in media you have probably witnessed it at the very least — and think, meh, I’ve never acted like that so it can’t be true? Because in truth, Donald Trump has acted like this and I suspect that is the problem.
The first issue is that it is ridiculous to speculate on the merit of the accusations if you weren’t there, aren’t a woman, have never experienced sexual harassment, and have political incentive to pretend you don’t see them.
Presidential it is not, when you make a decision about something when you have no facts upon which to make a decision.
And worse yet, Donald Trump is a harasser of women. He sees women as a piece of meat, eye candy at best and trash to be threatened and hit when he isn’t happy.
The allegations against Donald Trump are too numerous to list here, but from his ex-wife’s account of his assaulting her to his relentless harassment of a female journalist who rebuffed him until she had to threaten him legally, he sounds a lot like the Roger Ailes described by so many women.
The truth is that sexual harassment is so pervasive in media that it is a given, because power and money invite and enable sexual harassment. So for Donald Trump to say something that is so common it is a joke is likely unfounded when he has no facts is nuts.
Donald Trump incites sexual harassment against female journalists at his rallies, when his supporters scream “You b*tch!” at women in the press pen and his supporters said such ugly things to Megyn Kelly on Twitter that I’d rather not repeat them. Suffice it to say, misogyny had a starring role in trying to intimidate Megyn Kelly from doing her job. To deny this happens often around Trump is pure willful fantasy.
The man makes no sense. His failure to grasp basic logic when it comes to vetting stories is utterly terrifying – he relies on conspiracies and things he’s “heard”. He recalls things that never actually happened and refuses to believe it when he’s called out on this.
This kind of automatic dismissal to respecting a woman’s allegation is to be expected. This is the same part that cannot bring itself to listen to Black Lives Matter. So of course, every woman who doesn’t want to give in to get ahead is a liar in Trump’s eyes.
Donald Trump knows the truth, and that is that it is more likely that Gretchen Carlson is telling the truth than it is likely that she is making it up.
That’s the horrible reality under which too many women go to work every day and try to do their jobs.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.