Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault | Media Matters for America

Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault

Issues ››› Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle is the latest Fox figure reported for sexual misconduct in the workplace

    Report: Former Fox host Guilfoyle emotionally abused subordinates and showed co-workers photographs of penises, identifying the people in them

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    According to a HuffPost report, Kimberly Guilfoyle, formerly a co-host of Fox News’ The Five, “parted ways” with the network after “a human resources investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior including sexual misconduct.” 

    According to multiple sources inside and outside Fox News, Guilfoyle, who is dating Donald Trump Jr., showed “personal photographs of male genitalia to colleagues (and identif[ied] whose genitals they were),” regularly discussed “sexual matters at work,” and engaged in “emotionally abusive behavior toward hair and makeup artists and support staff.” 

    Guilfoyle follows a long list of other high-profile Fox figures who have been reported for sexual misconduct at the network. Eric Bolling, also a former co-host of The Five, was fired in September following reports that he sent his co-workers unsolicited photographs of his genitalia. Fox kept contributor Charles Payne on the payroll after completing an investigation into a co-worker's report that he raped her. Steve Doocy, a Fox & Friends co-host, also remains at the network despite being named for harassment in his former co-host Gretchen Carlson’s landmark suit against the network.

    And, of course, the network was forced to fire former CEO Roger Ailes, former co-President Bill Shine (who is currently the White House deputy chief of staff for communications), and former host Bill O’Reilly after reporting brought to light decades of workplace sexual abuse, cover-ups, and tens of millions of dollars Fox had paid to keep the victims silent.

    As reported by HuffPost: 

    Multiple sources told HuffPost that [Kimberly] Guilfoyle’s exit from Fox News, where she had worked since 2006, came after her alleged inappropriate workplace behavior could no longer be tolerated by the network. Vanity Fair, which broke the story about Guilfoyle leaving the network, and The Daily Beast, which reported that Fox News staff allegedly waged a “hostile whisper campaign” against Guilfoyle, have said she crossed the line by using network makeup artists for personal outings, but the accusations Guilfoyle faced were much more serious.

    Six sources said Guilfoyle’s behavior included showing personal photographs of male genitalia to colleagues (and identifying whose genitals they were), regularly discussing sexual matters at work and engaging in emotionally abusive behavior toward hair and makeup artists and support staff.

    ...

    Sources said 21st Century Fox prefers that problematic employees retire or resign rather than be terminated ― the company has taken this approach with Fox News talent and executives in the past, as well as with Guilfoyle, who was not formally terminated. This method gives talent and executives a quieter way to exit and the network avoids a contentious departure. According to two sources, the network told Guilfoyle she was being given time to find a new job that she could announce before leaving. 

  • Jeanine Pirro’s book-length self-own

    Liars, Leakers, and Liberals is an absurd, unintentional indictment of its author

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    You only get about one page into Jeanine Pirro’s new book, Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, before she calls herself an idiot. It’s not entirely clear whether she meant to do it or if she just got lost in the rapture of the prose, but she definitely calls herself an idiot. “We know what the liberal media think of Trump voters: They’re deplorables, idiots, rednecks, and people who cling to God, guns, and religion,” Pirro writes. “To those charges, I plead guilty--guilty and proud!”

    It’s confusing, and you’re left wondering why Pirro seemingly went out of her way to make herself look stupid. But intentional or not, it serves as an apt table-setter for the rest of the book, in which the Fox News host inflicts upon the reader a frenetic conspiracy theory that absolutely obliterates all logic and does violence upon the very notion of observable truth, and effectively discredits herself by painstakingly demonstrating that she is committed solely to the mission of kissing the ass of her friend, President Donald Trump.

    To be honest, I’m not entirely confident that anything I could write about this book (which is currently number one on the Amazon bestseller list) would be more damning of the author than the poison-laced nonsense she herself has committed to paper. The book’s conceit is that there exists an “anti-Trump conspiracy” to “nullify the decision of the American people and continue the globalist, open-border oligarchy that the people voted to dismantle in 2016.” The culprits she identifies “include, but are not limited to, the leadership at the FBI, the CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies, the Democrat (sic) Party, and perhaps even the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) courts. And let’s not forget the media and entertainment industries that are waging a nonstop propaganda campaign that would render envious their counterparts in the worst totalitarian states of history.”

    Hoo boy. Pirro, like literally every other conspiracy theorist on the planet, starts at the conclusion and then sets about backfilling her outlandish assertions. And, also like every other conspiracy theorist, her overriding zeal leads her to contradict herself and make a series of embarrassing fuck-ups.

    Let’s start with her treatment of the Justice Department investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia, which is hampered by Pirro’s howling ignorance. Pirro argues that it was former CIA Director John Brennan who “started the whole phony Russian collusion investigation” with the help of the dossier written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and “pressured the FBI into investigating the Trump campaign.” But she also writes, confusingly, that Brennan “tried to get the FBI to investigate the Trump campaign, but [former FBI Director James] Comey turned a deaf ear” and would not “buy the crap Brennan was selling.”

    She continues, writing that Brennan “cornered” former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid “and spewed his cooked-up tale about Putin and Trump,” and Reid “sent a letter posthaste off to the FBI director, urging him to open an investigation. Cardinal Comey didn’t open one, at least that the public knew about.” So by her own reckoning, Brennan did an extremely poor job of starting the Russia investigation she alleges he started. And the reason Comey did not start an investigation after Reid contacted him is because the investigation was already open at that point.

    To confuse things even further, Pirro writes later in the book that Comey was “too busy trying to concoct a Russia collusion case” to properly run the FBI. So was it Brennan or Comey who supposedly invented this collusion lie? And wasn’t it Comey who was supposed to have summarily rejected Brennan’s “crap” about Trump and Russia? What the hell is going on here?

    It gets still more baffling. She writes at one point that Barack Obama was “so desperate to keep Donald Trump from being elected that his Justice Department, prodded by his CIA chief John O. Brennan, misled the most secret court of the United States. The goal was simple: spy on the Trump campaign to undermine a presidential election.” But just a few paragraphs later she writes that Obama “knew all along what Russia was up to. He didn’t do anything because he, and the establishment pollsters, thought Hillary would win.” So Obama was both “desperate” and complacent, determined to undermine Trump but also content to do nothing about Russian efforts to help Trump because he thought Hillary was a lock.

    Pirro’s book transitions from factless absurdity to disgraceful hypocrisy in its treatment of sexual misconduct by the powerful and wealthy. A section of her book is devoted to the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse story as the “perfect example of Hollywood hypocrisy.” Pirro writes that Weinstein “silenced those around him with his ability to intimidate victims, pressure business associates, buy powerful Democrats, and leverage hungry Hollywood actors.” She viciously attacks people she argues enabled Weinstein, like Hillary Clinton and actor Meryl Streep, accusing them of turning a blind eye to Weinstein’s abuses in exchange for money and power. “I have a particular animus for Harvey Weinstein and people of his ilk,” she writes.

    The problem here is obvious: Pirro’s book is a rabid defense of Donald Trump, the most powerful alleged sexual assaulter on the planet. As I wrote in my profile of Pirro, she has enthusiastically set fire to her reputation as a crusading champion of sexual assault victims in order to shill for Trump, and this book is an especially disgusting expression of her moral self-immolation. While lashing out at Hollywood and Democrats for their “hypocrisy” over Weinstein, she comes nowhere close to addressing the many allegations of sexual assault leveled against Trump over the years. Instead, she writes: “It bothers me that the president has become such a target of LIBERALS for his treatment of women.”

    There’s no great mystery to why Pirro runs interference for Trump’s sexual misconduct in this way: The president is her friend, and her proximity to him gives her power and influence. Pirro was granted access to the highest echelons of Trump’s world for this preposterous farce of a book. It features quotes from interviews Pirro conducted with senior Trump officials like Kellyanne Conway and White House chief of staff John Kelly. The text is peppered with quotes from Trump’s children, which alternate between the sad (“You think that there’s anyone on earth that could change DJT?” says Donald Trump Jr., referring to his father by his initials for some reason) and the comically self-unaware (“You have certain individuals from the mainstream media, who sit in their ivory towers, their fancy offices and multi-million-dollar apartments,” says Eric Trump, who owns a $2 million apartment overlooking Central Park).

    She goes on at exhausting length about how she and Trump are great personal friends and have shared so many special memories together flying to and from Florida on the president’s private jet. These treacly stories are presumably intended to convey a warmer, more personable side to Trump, but really they just make it clear how compromised Pirro is by her relationship to the president.

    Liars, Leakers, and Liberals stands as an unintended self-indictment of the author: She tries to prosecute the president’s critics as slavish defenders of the entrenched power structure, but in the process she enthusiastically outs herself as an unprincipled, untrustworthy, and thoroughly rotten vassal of the president’s. Pirro is the embodiment of the media corruption she rails against.

    And if she wants to call herself an “idiot,” well, there’s no reason to object to that either.

  • Right-wing media are defending Rep. Jim Jordan against accusations that he knew about -- and ignored -- sexual abuse at Ohio State University

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has been accused of knowing about, and failing to act on, sexual abuse by the team doctor during his tenure as assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. Multiple former athletes have accused Dr. Richard Strauss of sexual misconduct and have claimed that Jordan knew or must have known about the abuse yet failed to act.

    Jordan, who is also the co-founder of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, has denied the accusations, claiming he was unaware of any abuse. During a July 6 appearance on Fox News’ Special Report, he was quick to attack multiple accusers, criticized CNN for hosting a former wrestler to discuss the claims, and stoked conspiracy theories by claiming that “the timing” of the accusations “is suspect” because he’s about to launch a campaign for speaker of the House. Allies of the conservative congressman have been equally resolute in their defense, with both President Donald Trump and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) backing Jordan, and the entire Freedom Caucus voting to officially support him.

    Unsurprisingly, right-wing media have also jumped to Jordan’s defense, suggesting that the accusations are no more than a politically motivated smear. Here are some of right-wing media’s defenses:

    • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs criticized Ryan for failing to immediately defend Jordan from “suspiciously timed smear campaigns.” He also called the accusations “a smear campaign of the vilest sort” and said Jordan has been “dishonorably attacked by the left."

    • The Daily Caller ran an article attacking some of the accusers, arguing that their “sketchy history” raises questions about their “authenticity.”

    • Fox News contributor David Bossie tweeted that Jordan is “an honest man of unparalleled integrity” and “the scurrilous allegations against him are absurd - perpetrated by the fake news media and liberals with an agenda to stop Congressman Jordan.”

    • Radio host Wayne Dupree claimed the accusations were a “hit job” and argued that the story “seems like an inside job from our side that doesn't want a conservative becoming Speaker of the House.” He also called the accusations a “sex smear” and said that they have solidified his “unequivocal support” for Jordan.

    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter called the accusations “sudden” and “convenient,” claimed multiple times that the story was “bullshit,” blamed the victims, and suggested there was a “coordinated” liberal response to the wrestlers’ claims.

    • Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell said the accusations reek of “dirty tricks” and implied that they were made to derail Jordan’s campaign to join Republican House leadership.

    • During Rush Limbaugh’s July 6 radio show -- titled “With Paul Manafort in Solitary, Deep State Targets Jim Jordan” -- the radio host argued that the accusations against Jordan are just the result of “opposition research” and claimed they emerged “because he’s had a successful interrogation period with [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein and is being mentioned for possible speaker.” Limbaugh also attacked the victims’ histories and stoked conspiracy claims by noting that the “the leading Democrat law firm in all of fascist Democrat America,” Perkins Coie, is investigating the wrestlers’ accusations. Gateway Pundit made similar accusations, blaming the deep state, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) also told Dobbs that the deep state was to blame.

    • The Daily Wire ran an article that called the “timing of these allegations… suspect,” because they have come out only when “Jordan was considering a run to replace Paul Ryan (R-WI) as speaker of the House.”

    • Infowars’ Owen Shroyer claimed “intimidation tactics” were being used against Jordan, argued there are “a bunch of holes in this” story, and said, “It seems to me like this is just another case of the Clinton crime machine trying to intimidate Americans who are standing up to them.”

    • Infowars’ Roger Stone rejected the accusations as a “smear tactic” and “a hit piece” and argued that Jordan is being targeted for his criticism of Rosenstein.

  • Why does Fox News’ Steve Doocy still have a job?

    Two years after he was implicated in Gretchen Carlson's lawsuit, the Fox News host remains on air

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Two years ago today, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a civil lawsuit against then-Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, detailing serial sexual harassment and retaliation by Ailes and persistent gender-based harassment from her former co-host Steve Doocy. Two years later, the toxic culture for women at Fox has been exposed and Ailes and his deputy have both left the network in disgrace, but Doocy continues to co-host “the most powerful TV show in America.”

    Carlson held several on-air roles at Fox News from 2005 to the day she was fired from the network in 2016, about two weeks before she filed the lawsuit against Ailes. Her suit detailed pervasive harassment by Ailes and retaliation when she rejected his propositions. This included repeated sexual comments about Carlson’s body and several instances in which Ailes told Carlson that she should engage in a sexual relationship with him in order to improve her job standing.

    Carlson’s lawsuit further detailed allegations of harassment by her former Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy, also dismissed by Ailes:

    Carlson complained to her supervisor that one of her co-hosts on Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy, created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including by putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast.

    Doocy engaged in a pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment of Carlson, including, but not limited to, mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show, and generally attempting to put her in her place by refusing to accept and treat her as an intelligent and insightful female journalist rather than a blonde female prop.

    After learning of Carlson’s complaints, Ailes responded by calling Carlson a “man hater” and “killer” and telling her that she needed to learn to “get along with the boys.”

    Since Carlson filed the suit two years ago, a lot has changed. Ailes resigned shortly afterward, just as a flood of stories began to spill out reporting that he engaged in serial abuse of women at Fox. He died in May 2017. His right-hand man, Bill Shine, was named in subsequent reporting and lawsuits for reportedly aiding Ailes in covering up serial sexual misconduct. Shine also resigned from Fox, though he has now found another job for which this resume is perfectly suited.

    Media and activists have forced a spotlight on Fox News. More employees have come forward, reporting that the men in power -- Ailes, now-former host Bill O’Reilly, and several others -- subjected them to inappropriate misconduct. The stories also revealed a systemic, cultural disregard for the safety and autonomy of women at 21st Century Fox, exposing the toxic roots of the system. A movement has begun, and Carlson is now one of its pillars.

    But Steve Doocy still has a job.

    21st Century Fox’s initial statement about the 2016 lawsuit acknowledged Carlson’s statements about both Ailes and Doocy: “The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter.”

    With few exceptions, however, Doocy seems to have since been erased from the narrative on Fox News and workplace harassment.

    A former Fox News staffer told Politico shortly after the lawsuit was filed, “Everyone on staff knew about or saw Doocy make inappropriate comments.” Yet a Fox News source told CNN’s Brian Stelter that the internal investigation launched after the lawsuit appeared to be focused solely on Ailes. Carlson settled the lawsuit for $20 million in September 2016, and Fox issued a public apology as part of the settlement conditions. The apology did not mention Doocy (or Ailes) by name.

    Doocy continues to co-host Fox & Friends every weekday morning, beaming his inane and propagandistic commentary right onto the president’s TV screen. The program has been deemed “the most powerful TV show in America” because of its direct line to perhaps the nation’s most powerful sexual harasser.

    The years since Carlson’s lawsuit have yielded an important lesson: Fox News acts for the good of its employees only when it’s absolutely forced to -- because advertisers are fleeing, because the public is watching, because someone is loudly demanding accountability. Doocy has benefited from media silence for far too long.

  • Fox News runs the government

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Update (7/5): Shine has been officially named as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.

    Donald Trump is reportedly close to bringing aboard Bill Shine, Sean Hannity’s former producer and the former president of Fox News, as the next White House communications director.

    This makes perfect sense.

    Shine has been repeatedly implicated in the rampant sexual misconduct at Fox News. He played a similar role inside of Roger Ailes’ Fox News that Michael Cohen played for Donald Trump. As the senior executive vice president at the network, Shine reportedly retaliated against women who reported sexual harassment by then-CEO Roger Ailes and helped participate in covering up the reports that eventually led to Ailes’ ouster.

    Former Fox News reporter Rudi Bakhtiar was reportedly fired from the network following her complaint that Brian Wilson, a former Fox News Washington bureau chief, had “made unwanted sexual advances toward her.” Bakhtiar reported the harassment, which Wilson denied, to Shine through her agent in 2007. Even though Shine reportedly promised to investigate, Bakhtiar was fired and eventually settled with the network for $670,000 through mediation after signing a nondisclosure agreement.

    Shine reportedly helped Ailes interact with Laurie Luhn, a former Fox booker who eventually reported Ailes for harassment. Luhn had a nervous breakdown after Ailes “psychologically tortured” her. Shine reportedly checked her into hotels in different cities to keep her from reporting her circumstances and started reviewing her outgoing emails. A spokesperson for Shine told reporter Gabriel Sherman, who is now with Vanity Fair, that Shine denied reviewing the emails.

    In July 2016, Sherman described how Shine “played an integral role in the cover-up” of Ailes’ reported misconduct. Sherman said that Shine “pushed women into confidential mediation, signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid.”

    The New York Times’ Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt reported in 2017 that Shine refused to intervene when it became clear that then-host Bill O’Reilly would air a segment lecturing women about sexual harassment. While Shine was co-president of Fox News, 21st Century Fox reportedly made multiple payments to women who reported that Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed them.

    Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes that also named Shine as being complicit in Ailes harassment and “punishing her for raising the issue.”

    Shine was also tied a racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit. A group of Black employees at Fox News sued the network for racial discrimination and harassment. The lawsuit explained that Shine "has demonstrated an obsession with race when it comes to discussions with [then-Fox News anchor Kelly] Wright, including regularly asking him, 'how do Black people react to you' and 'how do you think White viewers look at you?'"

    Also, Shine is close friends with Sean Hannity, whose now-defunct show Hannity & Colmes he used to produce. When Shine left Fox News, rumors swirled about whether Hannity would invoke a clause in his contract to leave as well.

    This should all sound familiar.

    Over 20 women have spoken out about Trump engaging in sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. The media has for the most part repeatedly forgotten about them, even though there is audio of Trump bragging about sexual assault. And oh yeah, Sean Hannity and Fox News led the charge to discredit the women in the first place.

    Trump’s racism is obvious, and yet it frequently gets papered over. Right-wing media defend it, mainstream outlets dance around it, and everyone just forgets it ever happened as soon as the next news tsunami hits.

    So yeah, Bill Shine is a perfect fit for the Trump White House.

    Trump bringing in Fox News people is now just a regular thing. It’s commonplace to see Fox host Jeanine Pirro in the Oval Office one day, and hear about host Lou Dobbs phoning in White House meetings the next. Fox & Friends weekend host Pete Hegseth is rumored to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs one week and is being considered for a communications job a few weeks later. Former Fox & Friends anchor Heather Nauert was installed at a top position in the Department of State. Former Fox contributor John Bolton became the national security adviser. Former Fox commentator Mercedes Schlapp is the director of strategic communications at the White House. Former Fox commentator Tony Sayegh is a Treasury Department’s spokesperson. Former Fox commentator Richard Grenell is now ambassador to Germany.

    There are also those who didn’t make it: former contributor K.T. McFarland resigned as deputy national security adviser and later withdrew her nomination to become ambassador to Singapore due to controversy over work for disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn; and contributor Monica Crowley was never hired after it was reported that she plagiarized parts of her Ph.D. dissertation. And there’ve been rumors at various times that Trump is considering hiring Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity.

    Fox News has spent its entire existence as the mouthpiece of a revanchist, faux-populist oligarchy. Thanks to Donald Trump, that infrastructure is now in the White House.

    It took decades and a number of brave women and men speaking out to reveal the full scale of the horrors of Roger Ailes and Bill Shine’s Fox News.

    One wonders what we will find in the future about Trump’s White House.

  • TPUSA invited a slate of sexists to speak at its Young Women’s Leadership Summit 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Turning Point USA, the student-aimed conservative organization that raises its money by stoking fear among rich conservative donors about the alleged liberalization of college campuses, will host its fourth annual Young Women’s Leadership Summit June 14 through 17. Slated to address the young women attending is a roster packed full of misogynists.

    While Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is perhaps most famous for a laughable 2017 stunt in which its members donned adult diapers and sat in oversized playpens to express their outrage over safe spaces, its stated mission is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.” Despite TPUSA’s lofty goals, the organization’s events are often little more than sophomoric spectacles designed to fearmonger -- often via Fox News airtime -- about the supposedly leftist leanings of U.S. colleges. But the group also has a more sinister history that includes hosting serial harassers and defending racists. Overall, TPUSA is focused on combating “political correctness,” and conferences like the Young Women’s Leadership Summit are one vehicle used to accomplish this goal.

    TPUSA’s website invites “young, conservative women” to apply to attend the summit, and it promises to deliver “professional development and leadership training,” as well as opportunities to network with fellow young conservatives. While at first glance, the event seems to be about women's empowerment, the slate of speakers scheduled to present says otherwise. The roster includes people who publicly support misogynistic policies, routinely dismiss the importance of issues that advance gender equality, and use dangerously sexist rhetoric. Here is a breakdown of 10 of those speakers and their histories of anti-women messaging:

    Charlie Kirk

    Jeanine Pirro 

    Dana Loesch 

    Kimberly Guilfoyle

    Katie Pavlich

    Kayleigh McEnany

    Tomi Lahren

    Ben Shapiro

    Candace Owens

    Jordan Peterson

    Charlie Kirk

    The founder, chief fundraiser, and public face of TPUSA, “boy wonder” Charlie Kirk has a long history of attacking feminism and a tendency to dismiss and mischaracterize the problems women face. He is also ever-ready to complain about girls intruding on sacred male spaces like the Boy Scouts.

    Jeanine Pirro

    At first glance, Fox’s Jeanine Pirro seems an obvious choice for the summit. As the first woman elected to serve as the district attorney in New York’s Westchester County, Pirro spent years working on behalf of abuse survivors, often women and children. Since her years as DA, however, Pirro has seemingly turned her back on abuse victims, using her Fox show, Justice with Judge Jeanine, to downplay sexual misconduct allegations.

    • When Pirro’s former Fox colleague Gretchen Carlson reported then-Fox CEO Roger Ailes’ many instances of severe sexual misconduct, Pirro aggressively defended Ailes, dismissing Carlson’s lawsuit as “absurd” and describing Ailes as a “no-nonsense guy.”

    • In October 2016, Pirro was quick to defend then-candidate Donald Trump after the release of an Access Hollywood video, which caught him bragging about sexually assaulting women. Two days after the video was released, Pirro dismissed Trump’s violent remarks as “locker room talk" and "frat house language." She also proudly announced that the video did nothing to change her vote, and that Trump was still an undoubtedly better choice than “double-talking woman” Hillary Clinton.

    • Days later, when multiple women reported that Trump had touched them inappropriately, Pirro rejected their reports as “a little too convenient” and criticized their timing.

    Dana Loesch

    NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch is a remarkably bad choice to speak at a women’s conference, considering her numerous glib comments about rape, her mischaracterization of issues that advance gender equality, and her cruel attacks against transgender women. Additionally, Loesch has openly ridiculed college-aged women, the demographic TPUSA’s summit is aiming to capture, for wanting access to contraceptives.

    • After conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh aimed misogynistic insults at Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown Law student who testified in front of Congress about access to contraceptives, Loesch launched a barrage of heinous attacks against her. She denounced Fluke as unable “to control her sexual urges” and claimed that Fluke had testified that she “simply cannot stop getting it on.”

    • Loesch then extended her attacks to seemingly include all college-aged women who want access to contraceptives, ridiculing them for acting “like they’re nymphos” and dismissing young women's call for contraceptives coverage as "insulting to the original spirit and intent of the suffrage movement."

    • Loesch has a history of making flippant remarks and ill-advised jokes about rape, including comparing the penalization of gun owners for improperly storing firearms to “shaming a rape survivor.”

    • Loesch has been quick to fearmonger about false reports of sexual assault (which researchers say make up only an estimated 2 to 8 percent of allegations), and she came immediately to the defense of former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) after he claimed that it’s “really rare" for women subjected to "legitimate rape" to become pregnant.

    • In addition to her trivializing rhetoric on rape, Loesch has made careless and insensitive comments about gender, including claiming that some women “wouldn’t know what masculinity was if it hit them in the face."

    • According to Loesch, the gender wage gap is “an absolute myth.” And after actress Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay describing her own experience with pay inequality, Loesch denied that “sexism” played a role in Lawrence’s experience, instead accusing Lawrence of having a “self esteem issue.”

    • Loesch has additionally aimed cruel and dangerous attacks at transgender women, going out of her way to misgender former soldier and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

    • Loesch also claimed that Manning was given “preferential treatment” and an “unnecessary surgery” when she received hormone therapy while in prison. In reality, hormone therapy is medically necessary, and to say otherwise simply serves to dismiss the health needs of transgender women.

    Kimberly Guilfoyle

    Former Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Guilfoyle has repeatedly used her platform as a Fox News host to make misogynistic and demeaning remarks, and she has spoken out in support of street harassment.

    • In a bizarre 2014 endorsement of catcalling, Guilfoyle defended street harassment by arguing that society should “let men be men” and insisting that “men are going to be that way.”

    • Later in the same year, during a discussion about women voting, Guilfoyle asserted that “young women on juries are not a good idea” because “they don’t get it.” She went on to contend that they’d be better of going “back on Tinder or Match.com.”

    • Guilfoyle has also derided women who have abortions in the third trimester as “selfish and disgusting,” even though women who receive abortions that late in their pregnancies do so because of serious concern for the fetus or their own health and are thus often forced to make heartbreaking and terrifying medical decisions.

    Katie Pavlich

    Katie Pavlich is an editor at the conservative outlet Townhall as well as a Fox News contributor. Pavlich has a history of using insensitive rhetoric and spreading misinformation about sexual assault as well as a tendency to espouse sexist tropes. In 2015, Pavlich gave a disastrous speech on sexual assault at Iowa State University, during which she insulted sexual abuse survivors and spread misinformation about the realities of sexual assault on campuses.

    • During the Iowa event, Pavlich argued that the incidence of sexual assaults on college campuses had been exaggerated and advanced the evidence-free notion that allowing students to carry concealed guns on college campuses could reduce sexual assault (the NRA is a sponsor of TPUSA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit). She also made the wildly insulting claim that "lots of the time" women "make a decision about whether you are going to stop a sexual assault or not" before it happens and sarcastically apologized while disagreeing with a woman who shared that she was sexually assaulted as a child. 

    • In 2016, Pavlich “guarantee[d]” that Russian President Vladimir Putin and “the Saudis” would find then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s voice “grating.”

    Kayleigh McEnany

    Many of the speakers invited to TPUSA’s summit have served as Trump apologists, but perhaps none have done so as consistently as Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany. In her constant defense of Trump’s sexist and violent rhetoric, McEnany has demonstrated her own indifference toward the sexism and abuse that women often face at the hands of powerful men.

    • McEnany defended Trump in the aftermath of the release of the Access Hollywood video, which contains Trump’s claims that when he sees a “beautiful woman” he will “just kiss” them and not “even wait” to speak to them first. The video also features Trump saying that “when you’re a star… you can do anything,” including grabbing women “by the pussy.” McEnany claimed that she didn’t “think [Trump] was condoning sexual assault.”

    • Days later, after multiple women said that Trump had sexually assaulted them, McEnany argued that “Donald Trump's claim is stronger” than that of one of the accusers.

    • McEnany also excused Trump’s tone-deaf assertion that if his daughter was sexually harassed at work, she ought to find a new job. She claimed that was “the same advice I would give to my sister.”

    • Her sycophancy continued in 2017, when she contended that Trump crossed no boundaries when he made a sexist remark to an Irish reporter.  

    Tomi Lahren

    Fox’s Tomi Lahren has built a career out of making unapologetically cruel and anti-feminist rants. She has a long history of attacking women and empowerment movements, including during a speech at the 2016 TPUSA summit.

    • During her 2016 YWLS speech, Lahren attacked various groups of women and derided modern day feminism. About liberal women, she told the crowd, “You notice the difference between a conservative women’s conference and a liberal women’s conference, because y’all dress like women.” In reference to Hillary Clinton, she proclaimed, “Don’t tell Hillary, but you can wear a dress and still be a woman,” and then she called both Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “men” based on the clothes they wear. She accused actress Lena Dunham of making false rape accusations, and she commented that Dunham was “somewhere getting undressed on HBO” and “no one wants to see that.” She described feminists as “barely women,” and she described the modern-day feminist movement as “all about “gimme -- it’s gimme this, gimme this.”

    • On another occasion, during a particularly vicious tirade, she described modern-day feminism as “the dumbest load of hypocritical crap ever masqueraded as an equality movement.”

    • In an interview with Playboy, in which she described feminism as “bad,” she implied that feminism attempts to simplify women into “wanting free abortions or free birth control, and by using a false statistic like the 77 cents on the dollar bullshit.”

    • In another instance, she slightly tweaked her previous definition of the feminist movement, arguing that feminism is in fact “about man-bashing & free birth control.”

    • Lahren once claimed female activists attending a planned “Day Without Women” protest were not “real women.” According to Lahren, “Real women don’t have to remind the world every single day that history once slighted us. Real women don’t wake up and skip work to march for abortions or paid contraceptives.” She added that she wasn’t sure about “a day without women, but I could use a day without this nasty feminist BS masqueraded as women’s rights.”

    • Lahren condemned the 2017 Women’s March as a “vulgar display of hate and bitterness” and “a giant temper tantrum clogging our streets and hurting our ears and eyes.” She condemned the protesters themselves as “actual mean girls” and opined, “If only these marchers put this much time/effort into their families & life choices. Perhaps then they wouldn't have to glorify abortion.”

    • She complained about girls being allowed into the Boy Scouts.

    • She (wrongly) denied that there is a gender-based wage gap.

    Ben Shapiro

    The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro frequently misinforms his audiences about the obstacles women face, demeans and attacks transgender women, and serves as a reliable source of misogynistic commentary on multiple issues.

    • Shapiro has repeatedly denied the existence of a gender wage gap (once again, it's real). When actor Jennifer Lawrence discussed her experience with pay inequality, Shapiro claimed she was just “whining about a bad contract.”

    • He has dismissed the impact that having children has on women’s earnings potential. 

    • Shapiro is against women serving in combat positions, tweeting: “Women SHOULD NOT register for the draft. National service is one thing. Combat? Come the hell on.”

    • He has claimed that “fewer women are interested in getting into tech because of all of the demands of work-life balance.”

    • He has repeatedly attacked and misgendered transgender women, tweeting that transgender people have “mental illness[es]” and claiming that Chelsea Manning only “think[s]” she’s a woman.

    • In response to the 2015 edition of MTV’s Video Music Awards, Shapiro tweeted: “Feminism is apparently the proposition that women are empowered by showing their breasts, but men are sexists for looking at them. #VMAs”

    • He accused “leftist women” of “redefin[ing]” rape and cautioned his followers not to believe “the lies” about “rape culture.”

    • He mocked Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke for her activism on contraceptive access and labeled her a “fascist” for wanting contraception to be more accessible to workers.

    • Shapiro has launched numerous attacks against planned Parenthood, claimed that women who seek abortions are “kill[ing] their own children,” and denied that medical care received by pregnant women is part of “women’s health.” 

    Candace Owens

    TPUSA’s communications director, Candace Owens, is a vicious critic of the #MeToo movement. She has attacked its leaders and maliciously defamed and insulted victims of abuse. Owens has also maligned feminism and she often promotes sexist and demeaning tropes.

    • Owens has been a vocal critic of the #MeToo movement, which has helped elevate the voices of people who have experienced abuse and has led to the rightful downfall of numerous abusive men. Owens, however, has accused the movement of turning “sexual assault into a trend,” contended that its premise is that “women are stupid, weak & inconsequential,” and claimed the movement is at fault for men who won’t hire women. Owens’ attacks on #MeToo were so tone deaf and clueless that even conservative women condemned them, causing at least one conservative organization to pull out of the conference, and leading TPUSA’s Kirk to beseech attendees not to attack Owens publicly.  

    • Owens also wrote that the “entire #metoo” movement was evidence of how “vicious and cunning women can be when they feel scorned.”

    • She argued that the leaders of the movement “were at one time willing to trade sex for career advancements” and accused them of leading a “political witch hunt.”

    • Owen’s has promised that her 2018 TPUSA speech will center on why she “hate[s] the #metoo movement.”

    • Owens has claimed that women “are being systematically taught to equate ‘regret’ with ‘rape,’” an old and incorrect assertion that is sometimes used to minimize the reality of sexual assault.

    • She has accused “modern feminism” of “singlehandedly (sic) deteriorating relationships and eventual motherhood” and argued that feminists “hate men” and are “miserable.” She also claimed that “if you believe in equality between men and women, you cannot be a feminist today.”

    • Owens has perpetuated sexist tropes with such statements as “Women are naturally jealous creatures. It’s not a trait they grow out of, they just get better at hiding it.”

    • She once relayed the “interesting theory” that “something bio-chemically happens to women who don’t marry and/or have children” to her Twitter followers. She offered comedians Chelsea Handler, Kathy Griffin, and Sarah Silverman as “evidentiary support.” In a similar vein, she noted that “the most vicious perpetuators of modern feminism almost never have any children.”

    Jordan Peterson

    Right-wing YouTube star and Canadian professor Jordan Peterson advances a philosophy that demonizes and demeans women, refuses to respect the needs of transgender women, and shares videos that have been described as a gateway into the “alt-right” for men suffering from depression.

    • Peterson has argued for a hierarchical system built around gender and has condescendingly claimed that those who view our culture as an “oppressive patriarchy” simply don’t want to “admit” that the “current hierarchy might be predicated on competence.”

    • During a discussion about the “incel” (short for involuntarily celibate) who murdered 10 people in Toronto, Canada, at least in part because of his antipathy toward women, Peterson suggested that the “cure” for violent men is “enforced monogamy” to ensure that lower-status men get to have sex with women.

    • Peterson has argued that “conscientious and agreeable women” are more likely to prioritize their families over their work.

    • He has questioned whether “feminists avoid criticizing Islam because they unconsciously long for masculine dominance?” and asked, “Is it possible that young women are so outraged because they are craving infant contact in a society that makes that very difficult?”

    • He warned against women trying to “usurp” men.

    • He has called Nazi sympathizer and unapologetic anti-feminist Milo Yiannopoulos “unstoppable” and “an amazing person.”

    • Peterson ardently rejects the right of transgender people to be called by their prefered pronouns and insists that calling people by the pronouns they prefer won’t “do [them] any good in the long run.” In reality, misgendering is a cruel and dangerous act.  

  • Get a load of this wild Sinclair town hall discussion on “youth & morality” 

    Sinclair says such discussions are a “significant public interest benefit” for stations it buys

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Last night, Sinclair Broadcast Group station WJLA hosted a “town hall” discussion on "youth & morality" featuring morally bankrupt media personality Armstrong Williams, young conservative talking heads Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, a campus carry activist, and a Daily Caller reporter (among others) -- and Sinclair wants you to believe it’s for the public good.

    The town hall was branded as both an episode of Sinclair-linked commentator Armstrong Williams’ show and a part of Sinclair’s ongoing town hall discussion series. The town hall does not appear to have yet aired on WJLA and it’s not clear if it has aired or will air on the WJLA-operated local Washington, D.C., cable channel News Channel 8, but it’s posted in full on WJLA’s website.

    Sinclair touts its “Your Voice, Your Future” local town halls as a public service and an opportunity to “alert, inform, empower and engage our audience.” Here’s a quick clip to give you an idea of how that went:

    For this event, “morality” actually meant Christianity specifically

    Though the panel was titled “Youth & Morality,” it was advertised as largely focusing on one study that showed dwindling millennial identification with Christianity, which WJLA characterized as a sign of “unprecedented moral decline.” The panel discussion was filmed at the Museum of the Bible.  

    Two minutes into the town hall, host Armstrong Williams asked the audience to raise their hands if they believe in God. (Williams also asked for audience members to raise their hands if they were atheist; one person did and panelists grimaced.) Williams’ first question for the panelists followed from there: “Can you be moral and good and not believe in God?” (Most of the panelists agreed that it was possible but not as easy.) Within eight minutes, panelists were equating “objective truth” with a belief in a Christian god and arguing that the inability to identify objective truths was “cultural Marxist.”

    At one point during a commercial break, Williams can be heard joking on a live mic, “Don’t fall asleep on me!” The panel returned from that break to listen to Charlie Kirk talk about “the distinction between Christianity and other religions.”  

    The “morality” panel was hosted by the notoriously morally challenged Armstrong Williams

    The town hall was hosted by conservative pundit Armstrong Williams, who has significant ties to Sinclair. Williams hosts a weekly show that airs on the Sinclair-owned News Channel 8 in the D.C. area and is syndicated on other Sinclair local TV stations across the country. Williams also owns several local TV stations through his holding company, Howard Stirk Holdings, which in turn sends business back to Sinclair through operations agreements.

    Williams is a close confidante of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson, even doing public relations work on behalf of Carson while continuing to also work as a media figure. (He also served as a Carson presidential campaign adviser while maintaining his weekly hosting duties.) Recently, Williams has aligned himself with other members of the Trump administration, joining Sinclair CEO David Smith in meeting with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai -- who was then a commissioner -- to advocate for pro-industry policies the day before Trump’s inauguration. About two months later, Williams hosted Pai on his show for a friendly interview.

    Back in 2005, Williams used an earlier version of his syndicated show to promote Bush administration education policies, failing to note he was paid $240,000 by the administration to do so. The Government Accountability Office subsequently found that the Bush Department of Education had violated federal laws about covert government propaganda by paying Williams for the promotion.

    Williams has also settled at least two sexual harassment suits -- one in 1997 involving reports that he “repeatedly kissed and fondled” a former producer for his now-defunct radio show over the course of nearly two years, and another in 2017 alleging that he groped and sought sexual favors from a former employee and later retaliated against the man.

    During the panel, Williams talked about his daily prayer routine and decision not to “use profane language” at work because he is the “moral leader” in his office.

    Several participants also seem to struggle with morals

    The panel featured eight participants in addition to Williams, the majority of whom were young conservative media figures who fall at various points on the spectrum from extreme or blatantly racist to embarrassing or just boring.

    TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens both participated in parts of the town hall. Frequent Fox News guest and conservative “boy wonder” Kirk is the founder of TPUSA, a group best known for a misguided 2017 protest in which its members wore adult diapers to “trigger the libs,” but whose stated mission is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.” Kirk, Owens, and TPUSA frequently fearmonger about suppression of conservative speech on college campuses while themselves leading a McCarthyist doxxing effort against liberal professors. Meanwhile, TPUSA has defended at least one professor with ties to a white nationalist group and several of its leading members have been outed for expressing patently racist sentiments, e.g. the group’s former national field director making the statement “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE.”

    Owens, TPUSA’s communications director, is another Fox News regular and “a far-right vlogger and conspiracy theorist” who has lately garnered media attention after rapper Kanye West praised “the way Candace Owens thinks.” Owens gained attention from far-right MAGA trolls after she posted a video in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville, VA, “Unite the Right” rally in which she dismissed white supremacy as a narrative pushed by the media, leading to her appearance on conspiracy theory outlet Infowars. Owens has also called for all DREAMers to be deported and has argued that immigrants directly harm the black community.

    During the town hall discussion, Owens lamented that conservatives were allowing themselves to be “silenced by liberal outrage” and said that younger conservatives and Christians ought to “punch back.”

    The Daily Caller’s Amber Athey also participated in the discussion. The Daily Caller is Tucker Carlson’s sexist and racist brainchild, which frequently dabbles in anti-Semitism, anti-trans rhetoric, far-right conspiracy theories, and celebrity bikini photo slideshows, and makes light of sexual assault. Athey herself has tweeted anti-Semitic jokes, and repeatedly used the slurs “fag” and ”faggot,” and, in one case, “nigga$.” (Athey has since deleted the tweets, but they are available via archive.is.)

    During the town hall discussion, Athey complained, “There are a lot of ideas on college campuses that -- if they’re conservative or they’re religious, they’re considered taboo and you’re not allowed to say it. Otherwise you’re considered a bigot.”  

    Town hall participant Antonia Okafor describes herself as “one of the country’s foremost advocates of concealed carry on campus” and has previously appeared in NRA media. Okafor makes regular media appearances pushing NRA-backed myths about campus carry, arguing that carrying concealed firearms would make young black women safer. In reality, the presence of firearms in domestic violence situations, for example, puts women’s lives -- and especially black women’s lives -- at significantly greater risk. And household gun ownership in general only increases the risk of death due to homicide, suicide, or accident; Okafor’s agenda would put women in greater danger.

    Rounding out the participant list are right-wing media figures Jason Russell, an editor at the conservative Washington Examiner, and Shermichael Singleton, an aspiring conservative pundit who briefly worked at Carson’s HUD before he was fired for anti-Trump writings. Preacher and lobbyist Quadricos Driskell and American Legislative Exchange Council-affiliated conservative attorney Shelby Emmett also participated.

    Sinclair cites town halls like this as evidence its expansion would benefit the public

    Sinclair has used its “Your Voice, Your Future” town halls -- also the platform former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka used to decry “black African gun crime” last fall -- to argue that Sinclair-owned and -operated local TV stations are providing greater services to the public. In one Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing, Sinclair pointed to the discussion series as evidence that its planned acquisition of Tribune Media would create a “significant public interest benefit.”

    The FCC is currently reviewing the Sinclair-Tribune deal specifically to ensure it would benefit the public and has signaled it will make a decision following a comment period that ends on July 12.

    Eric Hananoki contributed research to this post.

  • Video: Coverage of #MeToo must include marginalized voices

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH WASKO


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    During a conversation for The Washington Post, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke said, “We are trained as a country to respond to the vulnerability of white women.” Burke’s statement challenges us to look at who we are conditioned to empathize with and who we are leaving behind.

    Burke founded the #MeToo movement to protect vulnerable communities, and she continues to work on their behalf. But much of the mainstream media coverage focuses on the stories of white, cis, straight, able-bodied women. And when our response to white women’s plight is disproportionate to that for the marginalized folks among us, we have a problem.

    Many in the media have focused on the stories of white women despite black women facing harassment and assault at higher rates than white women. The instances are even higher for those who identify as queer, trans, nonbinary, and those with visible and invisible disabilities. Media need not contribute to this burden by siloing the communities the movement was built to protect.

    However, some outlets have gotten it right, and they’re to be celebrated. They’ve given voice to people whose #MeToo stories have been wrongfully overlooked and set an important example for outlets whose coverage has been exclusive to one kind of #MeToo story.