Gender

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  • Washington Post: Do Donald And Eric Trump Understand “The Term ‘Victim Blaming’”?

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A Washington Post reporter is suggesting that based on the answers provided by both Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his son, Eric, to the hypothetical of someone sexually harassing Ivanka Trump like Roger Ailes has allegedly done to many women in the workplace, it’s possible neither man understands what ‘victim blaming’ means.

    During an interview in a USA Today opinion piece, Trump said that his daughter “would find another career” or “another company” if treated the way Roger Ailes, the ally he has expressed “love” and support for, has allegedly treated many women at Fox News, allegations that led to his departure as chairman and CEO. Eric Trump doubled down on this attitude during an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose, stating his sister, “as a strong person,” would never “allow herself to be subjected to that.” Both statements have drawn condemnation from figures in the media, including former Fox host Gretchen Carlson, who sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment.

    In an August 2 blog post, Post reporter Janell Ross points out that the privilege Ivanka Trump has of being able to change career or work place isn’t shared by most women, underscores how this solution would “leave the harasser in place,” and calls the idea that strength is all that’s needed to respond to sexual harassment “plain wrong”:

    On Monday, USA Today published a column in which the elder Trump was quoted saying that were his daughter Ivanka Trump to face workplace sexual harassment akin to what former employees have said that former Fox News chief and on-again, off-again Trump ally Roger Ailes subjected them to, Ivanka would find another career or company. Just like that.

    Just to be totally clear, this is what the elder Trump said:

    “I would like to think she would find another career, or find another company if that was the case."

    Those are his words. USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers described that response as retrograde and, "startling even by Trumpian standards." By Tuesday morning, Eric Trump did what so many of his father's supporters and surrogates have been called upon to do this week. Trump offered an explanation for Trump's comments. During an interview with Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning," Eric Trump, said this:

    “I think what he’s saying is, Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn’t allow herself to be objected to it, and by the way, you should take it up with Human Resources, and I think she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that. I think that’s a point he was making, and I think he did so well.”

    [...]

    Now, on to the content of the two Trump men's comments, and some things that don't seem to have crossed their minds.

    Here's one: Ivanka's status as the daughter of two billionaires, the head of her own companies, manager of many lucrative projects and the wife of a very wealthy man also born to a wealthy family — all of which might make her response to harassment different than it might be if none of those titles applied.

    [...]

    What's more, their "solution" would likely leave a harasser in place.

    It would force a worker, who may feel that the job or some project or aspect of their job is what they are uniquely called to do, to accept the "punishment" of leaving that task or opportunity. That harassed worker would have to endure all the personal and economic upheaval associated with leaving that job.

    Meanwhile, the harasser and anyone aware of the harassment would emerge with a strong sense this behavior will not be a problem in the future.

    [...]

    As for Eric Trump's suggestion that a "strong" woman like his sister, Ivanka, would not "allow" this sort of thing happen or should simply go to HR, there are more than a few reasons to be troubled. Among them: there's little reason believe that the world and its HR departments uniformly work that well for all American workers.

    [...]

    The Trump definition of strength on terms that may not be an option for a large share of workers — say, for instance, that 40 percent of American mothers who are the primary or sole breadwinner in their families — is definitely something. Let's start with plain wrong. It's an idea that can have very real implications for the careers of victims, the companies for which they work and the entire country.

  • Amid Ailes Scandal, Trump Tells Fox Contributor Women Harassed At Work Should Find “Another Career Or … Company”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a USA Today opinion piece, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told Fox’s Kirsten Powers that women should “‘find another career’” if they are sexually harassed by their employer, referring to former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s allegations against ousted Fox CEO, and current 21st Century Fox consultant, Roger Ailes.    

    Trump previously defended Ailes during a Meet the Press interview, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd that Ailes has helped the women who are “complaining,” and noting that the women have said “wonderful things about [Ailes].” Trump went on to say the situation is “very sad … I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person.” Trump also has consulted with Ailes throughout the campaign, including the week that he announced his departure from Fox News. When asked if he would consider bringing Ailes on the campaign in an official capacity, Trump said he would consider it, and called Ailes “a very capable guy.”

    In a phone interview with Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, Trump doubled down on his defense of Ailes, suggesting Carlson wouldn’t have said “fabulous things” about her former boss if she was had been harassed. Powers asked Trump what his daughter Ivanka would do if she was in Carlson’s position. Trump responded that he would “‘like to think she would find another career or … company if that were the case.” From the August 1 opinion:   

    Donald Trump thinks it’s “very sad” that women at Fox News are “complaining” about being sexually harassed by former Fox chief Roger Ailes.

    As allegations against his old friend piled up, Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd on July 24 that, “Some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he's helped them…And when they write books….and say wonderful things about him….[N]ow, all of a sudden, they're saying these horrible things about him.”

    Without passing judgment about the specific allegations, which are currently under investigation by 21st Century Fox, one should be able to accept that a woman could both have been promoted by a boss and harassed by him. Women are often forced to maintain good relations with men who abuse them precisely because those men have power.

    When I mentioned this to Trump in a phone interview last Tuesday, he doubled down on his retrograde take. “There was quite a bit of fabulous things said [about Ailes by Gretchen Carlson],” he told me. “It would be easier for me and more politically correct for me to say you are right.  But you would think she wouldn’t say those things.”

    I pointed out that it wasn’t just Carlson who had made allegations. “I didn’t know it was more than just her,” Trump told me, even though his comments to Chuck Todd referred to women, plural.

    What if someone had treated Ivanka in the way Ailes allegedly behaved?

    His reply was startling, even by Trumpian standards. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” he said.

    But most women don’t have the financial resources of Ivanka. They can’t afford to quit their job without another in hand, something that is impossible to do when you are under contract and forbidden to speak to competitors. Most importantly, why should a woman be expected to upend her career just because she ended up in the crosshairs of some harasser?

    Trump’s defense of Ailes and criticism of the alleged victims comes as the media blackout of Trump’s own alleged sexual assault continues. Trump denied the allegations by pointing to an article that had appeared in The National Enquirer.

  • The Daily Beast: Fox’s Roger Ailes Scandal Makes Persisting Culture Of Sexism In News “Depressingly Clear”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove wrote that the ousting of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes amid a sexual harassment lawsuit -- and the numerous other allegations of sexual harassment that have surfaced since the lawsuit was filed -- has made it “depressingly clear” that a culture of sexual harassment in newsrooms still exists “across an industry that continues to be dominated by men on top.”

    Earlier this month, former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit that alleged Roger Ailes fired her from the network after she declined his sexual advances. Since Carlson’s lawsuit, an additional 25 women reportedly came forward to make similar claims, including Fox host Megyn Kelly. On July 19, Fox’s parent company 21st Century Fox announced that Ailes would leave Fox News as a result of the allegations. According to a New York magazine report, Fox executives knew about, and covered up, Ailes’ sexual harassment for over 20 years.

    In a July 31 article, Grove highlighted that revelations about Ailes “make it depressing clear” that a culture of sexism and harassment “has apparently persisted well into the 21st century, not only at Fox News but across an industry that continues to be dominated by men on top.” Grove noted that “With the exception of NBC News president Deborah Turness … no woman has ever led an American broadcast or cable news division” and highlighted Betsy West, a professor at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, explaining that “When women are in positions of authority, that makes a huge difference.” From the article:

    Yet the revelations surrounding Roger Ailes—resulting in the Fox News founder’s shocking forced resignation—make it depressingly clear that the Age of Enlightenment is still a long way off.

    The allegations exposed by fired Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson’s sensational July 6 lawsuit against the network’s ex-chairman were only the beginning as multiple women have come forward in the past three weeks to tell their own stories of harassment and abuse.

    [...]

    At a moment when one of the major political parties has just nominated a woman to be president of the United States—and women are running S&P 500 companies like General Motors, Xerox, Occidental Petroleum, PepsiCo, and General Dynamics (with Sheryl Sandberg the No. 2 executive of the planet’s sixth largest company, Facebook)—the television news business is a sociocultural anachronism.

    With the exception of NBC News president Deborah Turness (whose authority was abruptly curtailed after less than two years, during the Brian Williams scandal, when former NBC News chief Andy Lack returned in April 2015 to take charge), no woman has ever led an American broadcast or cable news division.

    “When women are in positions of authority, that makes a huge difference,” says West, a professor at Columbia University’s School of Journalism after three decades in broadcast news,  “but if you look at the statistics, about 70 percent of the news directors are men at the local-station level. And in network, there just aren’t that many uber-bosses who are women…Ultimately what will change this whole picture is when women are really represented at all levels.”

    It’s revealing that of the possible Ailes successors mentioned in recently published speculation, not one has been female—even though Rupert Murdoch (who owes the 76-year-old Ailes bigtime for creating a rich profit center for Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox) and  Rupert’s sons Lachlan and James (who by most accounts leveraged Carlson’s lawsuit into Ailes’s swift departure) could reap significant PR rewards, and possibly help fix a festering problem, by appointing a woman to run the place.  

  • Report: Fox Executives Knew, Covered Up Roger Ailes’ Predatory Sexual Harassment For Over 20 Years

    Former Fox Booker Laurie Luhn: Ailes Required “Luring Young Female Fox Employees Into One-On-One Situations”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that a former Fox News booking director claims to have been sexually harassed by Roger Ailes “for more than 20 years,” Fox executives helped cover it up, and a settlement document she signed with the network “precludes her from speaking to government authorities like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the FBI. Not to mention the press.”

    Sherman wrote about the former booking director's experience working for Fox and being “psychologically tortured” by Ailes and the network. Laurie Luhn explained that during her time at Fox as a booking director, she was “required [] to do many things she is now horrified by, including luring young female Fox employees into one-on-one situations with Aies that Luhn knew could result in harassment.” Luhn also recounted her own sexual harassment from Ailes and how the network settled with her on the conditions of an “extensive nondisclosure” agreement which prevented Luhn from taking the network to court: :

    The morning after Fox News chief Roger Ailes resigned, the cable network’s former director of booking placed a call to the New York law firm hired by 21st Century Fox to investigate sexual-harassment allegations against Ailes. Laurie Luhn told the lawyers at Paul, Weiss that she had been harassed by Ailes for more than 20 years, that executives at Fox News had known about it and helped cover it up, and that it had ruined her life. “It was psychological torture,” she later told me.

    […]

    In late 2010 or early 2011, Luhn said, she wrote a letter to Fox lawyer Dianne Brandi saying she had been sexually harassed by Ailes for 20 years. Brandi did not acknowledge receipt of the letter, but, according to a source, she asked Ailes about the sexual-harassment allegations, which he vehemently denied. Ailes, according to the source, told Brandi to work out a settlement. Luhn hired an attorney to negotiate her exit from Fox. Through a spokesperson, Brandi declined to comment.

    On June 15, 2011, Luhn and Brandi signed a $3.15 million settlement agreement with extensive nondisclosure provisions. The settlement document, which Luhn showed me, bars her from going to court against Fox for the rest of her life. It also precludes her from speaking to government authorities like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the FBI. Not to mention the press. Aware that speaking with New York on the record could pose legal risks, Luhn was insistent that she wanted to tell her story. “The truth shall set you free. Nothing else matters,” she told me. Her family friend also said this is what Luhn wanted.