While it’s becoming obvious that sexual abuse by those in positions of authority is being uncovered in virtually every profession in America, the debate thus far has focused on three “industries” (for lack of a better term) which seem to draw the most public interest. Two of those are the Hollywood entertainment kingdom and the media which is supposed to be covering these stories. As for the first, victims are coming forward in droves with new stories seemingly breaking every day. Accusers are frequently revealing their own identities despite the unwanted attention it may bring them and they are naming their abusers. At the other end of the scale, we have the MSM, where you would think that Mark Halperin was the only one who ever did anything wrong. (And when was the last time you heard his name in a cable news piece?)
Cristina Marcos at The Hill points to the middle ground in this phenomenon and it’s our elected officials in Washington. Sure, we’re hearing from a number of women (mostly) who have flown the #MeToo flag on social media and said that elected officials have harassed or assaulted them. But there’s one huge factor missing in their accounts. They’re not saying who did it.
Capitol Hill is facing a reckoning over sexual harassment, but hardly anyone wants to name names.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) became the first current lawmaker to be accused of sexual misconduct last week when a Los Angeles radio news anchor said that he had forcibly kissed and groped her during a USO tour in 2006.
But perhaps tellingly, the woman who came forward with allegations, Leeann Tweeden, is not a member of the Capitol Hill community.
In the House and Senate, lawmakers and staffers alike say sexual harassment is a common problem that makes Congress no different from other industries roiled in recent weeks by documented cases of harassment and even assault.
Marcos is correct. Al Franken and Roy Moore are pretty much the only nationally known politicians who have been called out by name thus far and Moore isn’t even in public office. Also, he wasn’t accused by people working for him, but by women who were only teenagers at the time. Franken was accused by name but, as Marcos said, he was accused by someone from the media and entertainment complex over events which took place when he was still living in that world, not inside the Beltway.
Frequently anonymous sources from inside Washington are saying that the problem is probably just as bad in government, but who are the offenders? Reps. Jackie Speier and Linda Sanchez (both D-Calif.) have come out with their own #MeToo stories. In each case they declined to say who assaulted them. Sanchez is quoted as saying, “I just don’t think it would be helpful” to name the currently serving member after saying she had been ogled, inappropriately touched and propositioned.
Pardon me for being a bit harsh toward someone who has allegedly been a victim of such abuse, but why did you bother coming forward? If you won’t name your tormenter we are left to come up with our own explanations, such as assuming that he must have been a member of your own party. And by failing to call him out – no matter what letter he has after his name – aren’t you simply enabling his behavior? What of the other women he’s probably treated (and may still be treating) the same way?
The failure to name names is not only failing to help anyone, but it’s actually continuing the precise problem which allowed Weinstein and others to continue their predatory behavior for so long. If the victims are afraid of the repercussions from naming their attackers, nothing changes and the perpetrators have no incentive to stop. If our elected officials are really concerned about this crisis and want to be part of the solution it’s time for them to name names and let the chips fall where they may. Nobody is going to come after you for speaking up at this point with the eyes of the entire world on them.
And the same goes for the newspapers, major networks and cable news outlets. We know Mark Halperin can’t have been the only one.