suspicious minds

With the almost daily drop of prominent, mostly liberal-minded, personalities of media, entertainment and politics, suspicions arise about hypocrisy of purported feminists and proponents of women’s rights. As of this writing, PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley is the titan to fall. According to Variety,

PBS has suspended late-night talk show “Tavis Smiley” amid misconduct allegations against its host and namesake.

“Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company,” the public broadcaster said. “PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”

The article continues,

The investigation found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, sources said. Some witnesses interviewed expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley. In general, witnesses described Smiley as creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went beyond what could be expected in a typical high-pressure work environment. Several expressed concerns about retaliation.

The accusations are bizarrely similar to those lodged at Smiley’s PBS colleague Charlie Rose and John Hockenberry, former host of The Takeaway, a radio program produced and syndicated by New York Public Radio (WNYC).

Takeaway on the Takeaway

Back in the summer, a few months before the Weinsteinization of American society, the aforementioned John Hockenberry quietly parted ways with his program, in a way that allowed him to glow in media messianic light, but not disclosing the backroom details of the former radio host’s bullying behavior, and his penchant for sexual and racial abuse against subordinates and coworkers. And what came clear in an investigation by WNYC’s news division, is that station management, including a female president, looked the other way when it came to Hockenberry’s bullying, sexist and racist behavior, well, because he was a popular fund-raising attraction. From the WNYC report on WNYC,

Both WNYC and Public Radio International, two of The Takeaway’s producers, refused to say who made the decision not to renew Hockenberry’s contract, what role any of these factors may have played in their decision, or whether Hockenberry received a settlement or any other form of severance. In an emailed statement, Jennifer Houlihan Roussel, vice president for communications at New York Public Radio, wrote: “NYPR and PRI did not renew John Hockenberry’s contract as host of The Takeaway when it expired on June 30, 2017. We agreed to communicate John’s departure as his decision.”

When you take together the power male sexual harassment travails at NPR, PBS and WNYC, the power trio of public media, the phrase money talks, integrity walks seems appropriate. And when that negotiation violates core liberal principles of feminism and women’s rights, the suspicion of hypocrisy only thickens.

Simple twist of fate

There’s a lot of talk about containing the impact of Weinsteinization, particularly when one likes the befallen lecher’s politics. Much like the way feminists chose Bill Clinton over the women accusing him, many liberal friends fell into the same trap over the fate of former U.S. Senator, Al Franken. Because of Franken’s support for women’s issues, and his ability to take on Trump, many supporters were cautious to go too harshly on the former funny man. Franken was only ass-patting, not raping, we’re told. Professor and former New York gubernatorial and congressional candidate, Zephyr Teachout made such an argument in the NY Times,

And the current alternative — off with the head of the accused, regardless of the accusation — is too quick, too easily subject to political manipulation and too vulnerable to the passions of the moment.

Self-described, radical, queer feminist Harry Lewis offered a rebuttal in the Huffington Post,

[Franken] He is a wealthy, powerful white man who will receive a sizable pension once he leaves the Senate. He admitted of his own volition that he behaved inappropriately, a statement that was not coerced out of him by an aggressive police chief or an unreliable lie detector test. If, as Teachout suggests, the rush to judgement against Franken was so hasty, why would he resign? Why would a man who had done absolutely nothing wrong, who had never acted inappropriately, quit his job after a few colleagues said he should do so?

Lewis’ initial point is well-taken, Franken is a man of privilege who will not suffer hardship, short of not becoming the first Jewish president. But he resigned because he was pushed out by party leaders. Their supposed calculation: with Franken out of the way, they can demand similar justice for Trump. In a world of fairness, that would be nice. But in the rough and tumble world of high-level politics, Trump gets away with misogynistic behavior because he doesn’t present himself as a champion of women’s causes. He’s not a feminist. Outrage at lechery aside, he’s very consistent in his adolescent demeanor. But maybe it’s reports of harassment complaints for up to forty additional members of congress, further underscoring feminist hypocrisy by Democratic congressmen, that really has Democrats quivering.

Suspicious minds

For years, conservative media mouths from Rush Limbaugh on down have suspected Democratic party and establishment liberal themes of political correctness to be nothing more than public relations wallpaper. And those of us to the left of liberalism have harbored similar suspicions, whereby edicts for labels “African American” and “people of color” are little more than linguistic veneer for policies that prop-up Wall Street and the military. Or when Democrats offer lip service for single payer healthcare while working to keep for-profit insurers in the saddle, exemplified by the former Senator Franken here,

In the short term, however, I strongly believe we must pursue bipartisan policies that improve our current health care system for all Americans — and that’s exactly what we’re doing right now in the Senate Health Committee, on which both Senator Sanders and I sit.

That’s hypocritical horseshit. And so it is when powerful liberal men, and women who enable them, offer politically-correct slogans and strategies of identity politics in place of policies that take on the exploits of capitalism or crimes of military interventionism. And it’s hypocritical when these folks can’t integrate their feminist values into their personal and professional relationships and interactions. Suspicious, yet?

I’ve long said that the Democrats are hypocritical for professing populism while fetishizing finance. You can’t sleep in two beds at the same time. Similarly, you can’t love women’s issues so much that you can’t keep your hands off them in person. This reckoning came from nowhere and is raging out-of-control, much like the fires in California. The actual fires seem more containable than this cultural firestorm.

Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?
–Francis Zambon