Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault | Media Matters for America

Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault

Issues ››› Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault
  • Lawsuit: A “women’s leadership forum” on Wall Street was headlined by a sexist right-wing pundit

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A new lawsuit alleging toxic workplace culture for women at a prominent Wall Street firm includes a gross Fox News connection that pretty much sums up how easily misogyny transcends any single workplace or industry.

    On February 12, firm employee Lauren Bonner filed a federal lawsuit saying Wall Street billionaire Steven Cohen’s investment firm Point72 Asset Management is a “boys’ club” in which women are paid less than their peers and regularly demeaned. The lawsuit detailed numerous instances of alleged discriminatory workplace conduct and structural sexism -- including a 2016 women’s leadership event headlined by former Fox News contributor Keith Ablow.

    The lawsuit contends that several executives and employees regularly made comments about women employees’ appearances, kept women from being promoted or compensated as much as their male peers, referred to women as “girls” and “sweethearts,” and excluded women from meetings. According to the suit, one executive reportedly wrote the word “PUSSY” on a whiteboard and kept it up for several weeks for all to see; a consultant reportedly told a high-ranking employee that he could “fuck” an unidentified woman if he wanted to, because “she works for me.”

    The New York Times’s report on the lawsuit ended with a Fox News connection:

    In one example of the firm’s allegedly inhospitable culture, the lawsuit described a women’s leadership forum that Mr. Cohen hosted in October 2016 at his 35,000-square-foot mansion in Greenwich, Conn. One of the main speakers was a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor who, according to the lawsuit, described Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, as “an accomplished man’s wife.”

    A person who attended the event confirmed that account.

    A review of the full legal complaint reveals that the aforementioned “psychiatrist and Fox News contributor” is Keith Ablow. Until recently, Ablow was a member of Fox News’ so-called “Medical A Team” -- a contributor role the unethicalpop psychologist” utilized primarily to feed junk science and bigotry to gullible Fox viewers.

    Though he’s now largely disappeared from Fox airwaves, some of Ablow’s apparent qualifications for speaking at a women’s leadership forum include past on-air treasures like regularly bullying transgender people, claiming same-sex marriage will lead to bestiality, delivering racist rants about former President Barack Obama and ebola, and criticizing German Jews for not having “more actively resisted” Nazi occupation.

    Of course, Ablow also has highly nuanced, informed opinions about gender. He has:

    • proclaimed that gender equality means men can hit women;
    • claimed young girls “provoked” harassment by wearing leggings to school;
    • written that “every single man alive has been sexually harassed by being exposed to sexually suggestive clothing worn by women specifically to convey erotic messages in schools and at work”;
    • suggested model Kendall Jenner sexually harassed him by appearing “half-naked” in public;
    • wondered if any actresses had ever "victimized [Harvey] Weinstein by playing on his narcissism and need for sex, exacting from him incredibly valuable opportunities"; 
    • argued Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Louis C.K. -- all reported for sexual harassment -- should have been “protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act”;
    • defended former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, questioning the timing of numerous women who came forward with stories about Moore abusing them when they were teenagers;
    • blamed Victoria’s Secret and women who shop there for “creating more Harvey Weinsteins”;
    • called for men to have veto power over women’s abortions;
    • suggested former first lady Michelle Obama should “drop a few” pounds;  
    • asserted that women are inherently less charismatic political candidates (unless they’re pretty like Sarah Palin); and
    • frequently fearmongered about so-called attacks on traditional masculinity.

    Bonner’s legal team surely knows a few things about the sort of misogyny likely featured at Point72’s “women’s leadership forum” with Ablow -- it’s the same firm handling several legal actions tackling serial workplace sexual harassment at 21st Century Fox.

  • Fox & Friends didn't discuss Trump aide Rob Porter's history of reported domestic abuse but mentioned Obama 18 times

    Fox News' evening shows also virtually ignored the allegations against Porter

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Fox & Friends didn't mention that a top White House aide has abruptly resigned amid allegations of physical domestic abuse, but found time to attack former President Barack Obama by name about various pseudo-scandals at length.

    Rob Porter, a top White House aide with direct access to President Donald Trump, resigned abruptly on February 7 amid allegations of years of domestic abuse, including physical violence, from two ex-wives. After the allegations were first reported by the Daily Mail, CNN interviewed both women, who detailed years of physical and emotional abuse in their respective marriages over a ten-year period, including punching, choking, and throwing fits of rage.

    White House chief of staff John Kelly initially released a statement of support for Porter, calling him “a man of true integrity and honor” (in a new statement, he condemned the abuse); shortly after, media began reporting that Kelly had prior knowledge of the abuse allegations, which were part of why Porter was denied his FBI security clearance. Since the story broke, a third, unnamed woman who currently works in the federal government and previously dated Porter has said she suffered "repeated abuse" by him as recently as 2016. Though he has resigned, Porter denied all allegations, calling them "outrageous" and "simply false."

    From the time the story broke on Wednesday through 9 a.m. Thursday, Fox mentioned Porter’s name ten times over four shows (seven of the mentions occurred in just two reports). Fox first covered the allegations only after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was pressed on the allegations in the February 7 White House briefing. Fox’s prime-time shows did not mention Porter at all aside from a brief report on the 6 p.m. hour. Fox & Friends the following morning also didn't mention Porter.

    While Fox & Friends didn’t find time to report on the resignation of a top aide close to Trump stemming from domestic abuse allegations, the show hosts did mention former President Barack Obama by name 18 times in relation to various contrived scandals, including Uranium One and the private text messages of two FBI employees.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of "Porter" on Fox News between February 6 and February 9, 2018 and "Obama" on the February 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends. Pronouns "he," "his," and "him" were excluded. Mentions of Porter by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders during the live airing of the press briefing were also excluded.

  • The Daily Caller has been making light of child sexual abuse for years

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Tucker Carlson’s right-wing outlet The Daily Caller has long advanced conspiracy theories, recently promoted Pizzagaters and white nationalists, and routinely propped up GOP policies with shoddy online writing, including from notorious plagiarizers. But there is one uniquely horrifying editorial element of this website that it deserves to be tied to forever: The Daily Caller has had a years-long, unchecked fixation with mocking survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

    For years, The Daily Caller has routinely posted abhorrent stories making fun of reported sexual abuse of children and teenagers by adult women perpetrators. A whole category of posts beginning in 2013 are tagged as “Teacher sex” on the site -- more than 100 in total. Taken together, they suggest that boys and young men cannot be victims of sexual abuse if the reported abuser is an attractive young woman who uses gifts or special treatment as a form of sexual coercion. The "Teacher sex" posts largely follow the same formula:

    Another thing nearly all these posts have in common: They are written by Eric Owens, The Daily Caller’s education editor.

    Here are just a few examples that have been posted since last October, when the #MeToo movement began to dominate public conversation:

    [2/6/18]

    [12/6/17]

    [11/19/17]

    [11/10/17]

    [10/28/17]

    Owens also has a long history of mocking queer and trans students -- which seems to have kept his “education” writing isolated in the Daily Caller cesspool. (Owens was previously moonlighting at a niche education outlet but appeared to have stopped writing for it after Media Matters pointed out his predilection for bullying LGBTQ kids back in 2015.)

    It’s worth remembering that The Daily Caller was co-founded by professional misogynist and outrage-haver Tucker Carlson, Fox News’ far-right and neo-Nazi darling. Carlson uses his current Fox evening show to bully and yell about women -- often right in their faces -- and sometimes spur their online harassment. It’s no wonder his website seems to devote its entire “entertainment” section to objectifying women celebrities, or that its education editor is focused primarily on writing horrifying things about vulnerable kids.

    It’s toxic masculinity at its peak: The Daily Caller wants its young men readers to believe they have the right to objectify women’s bodies; and if someone tries to hurt them or take away any ownership of their own bodies, the correct reaction is to repress the trauma they experience and pretend the abuse was funny and cool.

  • Far-right activists and "alt-right" trolls are using the #MeToo movement to bolster their xenophobia

    #120dB is an ethnosexist German campaign that scapegoats Europe's migrants for gender-based violence

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A far-right campaign that blames immigrants and refugees for sexual violence in Europe is attempting to ride the coattails of the #MeToo movement. The campaign, apparently launched by German women and promoted by European white supremacists, far-right media figures, and anti-Muslim extremists, is an ethnosexist exploitation of a legitimate movement against gender-based violence and an attempt at normalizing hate against immigrant and refugee communities.

    The campaign is known as 120 decibels, a reference to the volume of most pocket alarms carried by some women as a defense against street harassment, and seems to have first appeared on Twitter January 30 in the form of the hashtag #120dB and a video that’s gone viral among far-right and ethnonationalist groups. The movement’s website invites women to join the “resistance” and share their experiences with “imported violence” using the hashtag #120dB.

    In the video's subtitles, several women -- purporting to speak for women who were subjected to violence in Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom -- claimed their respective countries “refuse to secure our borders” and “refuse to deport criminals.” They also lamented the European countries’ alleged cover-up of a migrant crime epidemic, saying their governments’ leaders would “rather censor any critique against [them] then taking (sic) us seriously.” The women contend, “Because of your immigration policies, we are facing soon a majority of young men that come from archaic societies with no womens-rights (sic). You knew that and you accepted it.” They called themselves the “daughters of Europa” and promised to call these abuses to account. And they call #120dB “the true #metoo.”

    The hashtag and video are being heavily promoted by Generation Identity, a self-proclaimed pan-European “Identitarian” movement against the “replacement” of (white) Europeans with migrants. Its Austrian co-founder Martin Sellner uploaded a version of the campaign video with English subtitles around the time #120dB first appeared online; it now has more than 40,000 views.

    Prominent women in the “alt-right” -- who consider themselves “anti-feminist” and value conceiving and raising white families -- are now starting to notice the #120dB campaign. Brittany Pettibone, a well-known “alt-right” troll who advocates for “anti-feminist” ideas and openly supported Defend Europe's campaign to disrupt refugee rescue missions, shared the English-captioned video on Twitter.

    The hashtag #120dB has since garnered attention from English-speaking audiences more widely -- including from the American anti-Muslim commentator Pamela Geller; the founder of a group called “Resistance Against Islamic Radicals,” Amy Mek, anti-immigrant pundit Ann Coulter; and contributors to the Canadian "alt-right" media outlet Rebel Media, Tommy Robinson and Lucy Brown.

    The campaign has also garnered attention from far-right activists and trolls obsessed with a mythical crime wave in Europe. Most notably, Breitbart London author Chris Tomlinson penned a February 1 article on the subject and has tweeted the hashtag #120dB 15 times as of this writing. In another tweet, Tomlinson used the hashtag to promote a Breitbart article he wrote about the late January murder of Pamela Mastropieto, an 18-year-old Italian, woman by a Nigerian man. On Saturday, a far-right extremist was arrested in connection with a racially-motivated shooting rampage in the central Italian city of Macerata, apparently in retaliation for her brutal killing. After the attack, far-right 4-chan trolls defended the suspected gunman Luca Traini, and one post called for followers to hang posters around Italy that read, "I was killed by open borders," a photo of the woman, and a reference to the hashtag #120dB. 

    Media Matters has documented Breitbart’s -- and, in particular, Tomlinson’s -- obsession with a nonexistent European crime wave, especially in Sweden. Two of Breitbart’s favorite tropes -- both employed by #120dB -- are the portrayal of immigrant men (particularly Muslims) as predisposed toward sexual violence, and the baseless accusation that law enforcement is involved in a cover-up of violent crime by immigrant populations.

    Meanwhile, Lana Lokteff, the "alt-right" co-host with her Swedish husband of Red Ice TV, a media company affiliated with white nationalist Richard Spencer’s AltRight Corporation, plans to interview the women of #120dB this week. Lokteff has previously criticized women who have spoken out against disgraced Hollywood mogul and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, calling one of his accusers, Rose McGowan, “awful.”

  • Newsmax is airing Bill O'Reilly's hot takes on Trump's State of the Union address

    Serial sexual harasser to give commentary on speech by man who has openly bragged about committing sexual assault 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Conservative outlet Newsmax will be hosting disgraced serial sexual predator Bill O’Reilly to “provide in-depth analysis” of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address tomorrow night.

    Newsmax announced on January 29 that O’Reilly will provide “live analysis” for Tuesday’s address by Trump -- with whom he has much in common -- on its Newsmax TV channel. In its press release, Newsmax CEO and close Trump friend Chris Ruddy said that O’Reilly’s “frank, no-holds-barred analysis is needed in American media more than ever.”  

    O’Reilly has settled at least six legal claims related to workplace sexual harassment over the course of 15 years, including one extremely notable settlement with former Fox analyst Lis Wiehl amounting to a whopping $32 million.

    After O’Reilly departed from Fox News following The New York Timesinitial reporting on the settlements in April 2017, he was largely and rightfully relegated to recording audio and video clips in his home office for his personal website. And his handful of media appearances in recent months have illustrated exactly how little his “analysis” is needed.

    In September, O’Reilly sat down with former Today show host Matt Lauer -- with whom he also has much in common -- and personally attacked one of the women who came forward about his harassment.

    And, to underscore the complete moral bankruptcy of Fox News and Sean Hannity, O’Reilly has several times appeared on Hannity’s radio show and on his Fox News show, sometimes to launch similar attacks. O’Reilly even appeared in person in the studio at Fox News, possibly sharing a space with women who’d been subjected to his harassment. (Fox heavily promoted O’Reilly’s return to its airwaves with zero shame about the number of women who’ve suffered at the hands of the network.)

    According to Ruddy, who has openly and proudly discussed courting O’Reilly before and has given him airtime already, this is the man whose analysis America needs “now more than ever.”

    Meanwhile, several lawmakers are planning to bring guests at the State of the Union who’ve spoken out about sexual harassment and assault. Will O’Reilly have anything to say about them?

  • Fox and CBS' Sunday political shows ignored reports of former RNC finance chair Steve Wynn's sexual misconduct

    Blog ››› ››› SANAM MALIK

    The Sunday shows on Fox Broadcasting Co. and CBS failed to mention new allegations of sexual misconduct against casino mogul and former finance chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Steve Wynn.

    On January 26, The Wall Street Journal reported on allegations of sexual misconduct by Wynn from dozens of his employees and others at Wynn Resorts spanning decades. According to the Journal, people who have worked at for Wynn “described him pressuring employees to perform sex acts.” In one case, Wynn paid a $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist who “told a colleague Mr. Wynn had forced her to have sex.”

    Wynn, who President Donald Trump has called “a great friend,” has “donated millions to Republicans” and became the RNC’s finance chair after the 2016 election. He has also donated far smaller amounts to some Democrats in the past. Wynn resigned from his position at the RNC following these reports.

    Despite the serious nature of the allegations and the growing attention to sexual misconduct issues in the workplace brought by the #MeToo campaign, the January 28 editions of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday and CBS’s Face the Nation ignored the reports altogether.

  • Video: Mainstream media ignored the Women's March. Here's what Women's March participants said about the media.

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    On January 20 and 21, over a million protesters marched all over the United States and the world for the 2018 Women’s March. Some estimates include: 200,000 marchers in New York City, 300,000 in Chicago, and 600,000 in Los Angeles. But despite the high turnout especially one year after the first Women’s March -- which not only broke records for attendance, but has since grown into a movement -- news outlets largely ignored these historic protests let alone actually interview anyone who organized or participated in them.

    We went to a sister march in Washington D.C. on Saturday, January 20 and spoke to a few of the estimated 10,000 protesters and activists who were there.

    Here’s what they had to say: