A free pass to abuse women, if your politics are right
In America, the news media is less of a journalism enterprise and more of a political movement. In other words, some sexual predators, such as Harvey Weinstein, are judged more leniently than others, depending on their politics.
The real tragedy is that the media addresses sexual harassment only when the issue is forced on them. As a former journalist who covered one of America’s most important political beats, Chicago City Hall, for nearly two decades, it was obvious to me that even journalists were among those who abused women and used their powers to exact sexual favors from victims.
Everyone knew what Weinstein was doing, but no one did or wrote anything about it until recently, and the truth is that sexual harassment had been going on long before that. Everyone knew that President John F. Kennedy was having relations with women other than his wife, but no one would write about it. Among his infidelities was an affair with Marilyn Monroe.
And then there was President Bill Clinton. His affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, resulted in his “impeachment,” little more than a public scolding from a US Congress that also has a history of predatory sexual misconduct. But the attacks against Clinton were primarily partisan, and many Democrats defended him.
Never reported on by the news media, which intensely covered the Clinton scandal, was that Clinton’s wife Hillary is said to have used all her influence to punish and bully any woman who accused her husband of sexual infidelity — and there were dozens of them. Instead, top media personalities such as ABC TV’s George Stephanopoulos, who worked for the Clintons, have defended them while attacking their enemies.
Bill Clinton is being protected because of his politics. If we use the weight of the moral judgment being applied today to Weinstein and others such as actor Kevin Spacey and director Brett Ratner, Clinton should have been forced to resign as president.
There are also accusations against the liberal Democrat Senator Al Franken, who entered politics after a successful career as a television comedian. Not only was Franken accused of sexually harassing a woman during one of his entertainment tours of military units, but there are also photos of him abusing the woman as she slept on a plane after one of their shows. Franken apologized in a brief letter to the victim, an entertainer and radio talk-show host.
Network news reporter Mark Halperin has been accused by five women of inappropriate sexual misconduct. In his writing, Halperin argued in the 2004 presidential election that reporters should not hold Republicans and Democrats “equally accountable” for misconduct, and should favor the Democrats.
The US media is less a journalistic enterprise than a political movement, and applies double standards when deciding on who it will hold to account.
Halperin’s former ABC News colleague, Cecelia Vega, has been silent on his alleged misconduct. Instead she took out her wrath on Donald Trump and the Republicans. Trump condemned Franken’s misconduct, but Vega wanted to know why he did not condemn Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore. Moore has been accused by several women of sexual misconduct that took place almost 40 years ago, accusations published by the anti-Trump and pro-Democrat newspaper the Washington Post.
Moore, his wife and his political allies say the allegations are lies intended to undermine his candidacy. The Democrats are hoping to defeat Moore and take control of the US Senate. Clearly, the media, and “journalists” such as Vega, want that to happen.
It is an example of how the American media and politicians treat people differently based on whether they are favored or disfavored politically.
This same kind of double standard applies to how the mainstream American news media and politicians treat the Arab world. The US Congress and the news media close their eyes to Israeli violence and human-rights abuses against Arabs and Muslims, but exaggerate and punish the Arab world for violence and abuse against Israel.
Additionally, the American media and politicians are constantly accusing the Arab world of denying rights to women, while pretending that women in America are treated so much better.
Just ask the victims of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, Mark Halperin, Roy Moore or Brett Ratner. They can tell you how well women are treated in America.
• Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist and author. Email: [email protected]
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view