News broke late last week that once esteemed journalist and national news anchor Tom Brokaw was being accused by a couple of women of the now very familiar charge of workplace sexual harassment. Brokaw was facing his own “Me Too” crisis, but his contemporaries are trying to see that he does not become another statistic, and avoid joining Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin, and other journalists felled by their predatory acts. This is rather amazing.
Journalists love to play referee with our moral standards. Dictating proper behavior and predicating societal comportment are among their favorite pastimes. When it comes to actually following their own rules, or enforcing those protocols among their own contemporaries, there tends to be a blindspot massive enough to require Radial Keratotomy.
This past week our media nannies willfully assailed the character of a Presidential nominee. President Trump’s choice to head the Veteran Affairs office, Ronny Jackson, went from being a respected physician over numerous Presidential administrations to a political pariah. When he was nominated to head the VA suddenly a rash of charges welled up about his personal behavior.
The press comfortably repeated many of the charges mentioned in Congressional committee, despite the fact that no tangible evidence was ever presented. Jon Tester (D-MT) had presented a document said to be filled with testimony from anonymous sources, all claiming numerous drunken episodes, and even one incident of drunk driving where a government vehicle was crashed.
The media ran all these stories as verified, but then the Secret Service came out with an announcement that they conducted exhaustive research and could find no records of these incidents taking place. No official reports were ever presented – from the SS nor D.C. police – recording a government vehicle crash. Tester had no response when presented with the SS findings, but the damage was successful. Jackson withdrew himself from consideration. The press had their scalp, and Trump was again smeared with administration foibles.
At almost the same time news of the Brokaw controversy broke, and the press reaction was confounding, contradictory, a paradox. Rather than anonymous sources, named women were willing to go on the record and declare how they were mistreated by Brokaw. Since last October this type of report has torpedoed the careers of numerous offenders. Somehow Brokaw is different.
Instead of being chased off we see the legendary journalist defended. A letter of support was drafted, signed by a lengthy list of female co-workers. As Joe Cunningham showed this morning, some inside NBC offices felt they were compelled by management to sign onto the document.
What I find striking is that some of the prominent names on the list (the letter is available here) such as Rachael Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Mika Brzezinski and the like, are the same ones who have told us in previous months how important it is to believe these charges. “All women are to be believed”, has been the mantra of the #MeToo movement, and yet now that standard does not apply. Why?
Brokaw is not being secretly charged by a female using a pseudonym. Former NBC anchor Linda Vester is the one coming forward, willing to go on the record, on camera, and describe numerous episodes with Brokaw misbehavior. This is as solid of an accusation as we have seen prior, from a respected reporter no less. And it is leading nowhere. The women of NBC are NOT supporting a female colleague/victim?!
Also evading accountability right now is MSNBC’s Joy Reid. She has been outed for writing homophobic blog posts from years back. She made the excuse that the archives of her decade-old blog were hacked by an outside source. This claim had been proven false, and other desperate claims by Reid were proven additionally absurd, yet she has not absorbed professional retribution. Normally these anti-homosexual comments would lead to a call for terminations. (Recall, Brendan Eich had to step down as FireFox’s CEO when he was dubbed “homophobic” for political donations he made years earlier.)
So when an administration official is presented for a post, rumor and innuendo is enough for the media to report wrongdoing. When journalists however have credible, evidence-backed charges leveled against them they get excused away, and any escape hatch is opened.
It almost appears like the press has a set of rules to be enforced upon others and yet the applicable nature is not extended within its own industry. (Need a term for this.) This of course means their future accusations against others should become neutered, and these contradictions need to be thrown back in their face to show the lack of sincerity in the charges.
When Tom Brokaw is permitted to get away with this behavior, believe me, I’ll be sure to demand #MeToo!
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