Fox reporter exits, Washington Post reporter suspended amid latest sex harassment allegations
If only a big sex harassment-in-the-media summit at the Newseum in Washington had waited a day and a half, the assembled could have rushed out during the coffee breaks to cover on-topic news nearby.
That Tuesday gathering preceded the latest media shame: Fox reporter James Rosen has departed after 18 years at Fox due to sexual harassment allegations, while The Washington Post suspended ace reporter Joel Achenbach for 90 days for unspecified misconduct involving current and former female colleagues.
So Bill O'Reilly, Charlie Rose, Garrison Keillor, Michael Oreskes, John Hockenberry, Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin and, well, there have been many more.
As fate would have it, a Post reporter at the Tuesday summit had confronted a New York Times editor about the newspaper's transparency when it came to The Times' high profile suspension of then-White House reporter Glenn Thrush. The estimable Paul Farhi had reported the Thrush saga for The Post and he detailed to the summit attendees how he faced roadblocks in procuring information, and how the key report on the matter (overseen by the top newsroom attorney) remains confidential.
Carolyn Ryan, a Times editor who was the target of Farhi's questions, underscored that, yes, those were fair questions. But she noted important privacy considerations and the confidentiality given some interviewees during an internal investigation whose contours she did discuss.
Well, Farhi now finds himself a media version of FEMA, dispatched to newsroom calamities, though needing no travel expenses as he now reports on Achenbach. He wrote last evening that his colleague "would be suspended for 90 days without pay, the most severe newsroom punishment the paper has handed out in recent years for violations of its workplace or journalistic standards. His suspension began immediately."
As for transparency close to home, ah, well, there was this: "The paper’s top news managers declined to describe Achenbach’s misconduct in detail and said the investigation into his behavior took two months." A top editor cited privacy considerations in a memo about the suspension sent to the longtime admired reporter and to his union.
How many women? We don't know. Any specifics of the allegations? Nope.
At this point, it's no more forthcoming — folks at The Times initially see their competitor as less so — than The Times. Plus, there was the Achenbach public statement. As one former longtime congressional aide put it to me late Wednesday (and thus truly dated himself), it had a whiff of those declarations from defendants in Soviet Cold War show trials. Here's the statement, as reported by Farhi:
"'I’m very sorry to say that I’ve behaved badly and have been suspended by The Post for three months for inappropriate workplace conduct. I’ve said and done things that were unprofessional, and I apologize to the women affected by this and acknowledge their courage in speaking out.' He added that he found The Post’s disciplinary process fair and cooperated with it."
So the Post and The Times, bound by the meritorious raising of their editorial games and spiking readership amid the descent into mediocrity of much of the industry, are now tied together on this unseemly matter.
And it's only Thursday. Who's next? One can only hope Farhi gets a day off to do more uplifting labor on his beat.
Speaking of the list ...
Writing in The Atlantic Megan Garber opens with quoting Katie Roiphe, who is working on a story for Harper's, about her incredulity of a negative whispering campaign about a piece nobody's seen yet but "seems to involve, in some capacity, the Shitty Media Men list, a spreadsheet created as a private document — shared between women who work in media and meant to warn them about predatory men— but whose existence was made public, via a post on BuzzFeed, in October."
"And, so, anger — anger directed not against the existence of Roiphe’s article itself, but rather against the notion that the identity of the woman who created the list might be publicly revealed: the notion that a woman might be subjected to abuse for the act of trying to spare other women from the same thing. The outrage was accompanied by more specific entreaties to Harper’s (a magazine that has, depending on your perspective, either nobly or notoriously resisted the rise of the internet) to recognize the broader world its journalism now inhabits: a place of both marvelous and ominous fluidity between digital settings and physical ones."
This just in, though: Moira Donegan's first-person account in New York Magazine's The Cut saying she created the Shitty Media Men spreadsheet.
Chris Cuomo vs. Kellyanne Conway
Chris Cuomo debuted what's at least a temporary prime time CNN show last evening. And he got Kellyanne Conway, who seems both friend and willing rhetorical adversary on All Things Trump, to be his star guest for nearly half an hour. They got combative quickly as she referred to him as "Christopher," as if a mildly disapproving older sibling.
They went on and on, interrupting one another frequently, providing good TV and little insight, with Cuomo's final inquisitional salvo being on Trump's confusing, not especially thoughtful call for libel law changes. It might be fit for a road show jointly sponsored by the American Bar Association and World Wrestling Entertainment. My unofficial notes suggested something like this:
Cuomo: Let me ask you something else, about the First Amendment. We all know it's the signature freedom in this country. Is the president really serious about wanting to take a good look at finding ways to abridge the freedom of the press?
Conway: That isn't what he said. He said he was going to look at the libel laws. That wasn't abridging freedom of the press
Cuomo: How isn't that the same thing?
Conway: It's not the same thing. This man, every single day he comes to work and wants to do good by this country. Wants the economy to keep booming as it is … the stock market, the consumer confidence ...
Cuomo: What does that have to do with the libel laws?
Conway: It has to do with everything because instead people are trying to get in his way, trying to nullify his election, trying to throw crocodiles in the water … it's not going to happen.
And a few second later, this:
Cuomo: For a man who says as many things that are as demonstrably false, on a pace we have never seen any president even approach, it is odd that he wants to be in the fact checking business.
Conway: He is demonstrably successful at a pace we've never seen.
Well, let's stipulate that Conway might bone up on this issue, as agreed by George Freeman, former longtime New York Times attorney and now the boss of the Media Law Resource Center.
"Conway has not added a whit of substance. Trump and Conway are all bluster and no substance on the topic of libel. First, libel is, at bottom, a matter of state law which the president doesn't affect. Second, to the extent the Supreme Court has stepped in and constitutionalized it in New York Times v Sullivan, the president can't tamper with that either."
"More important, what Trump says he wants the law to be, liability for knowing falsehoods, is what the law is; he just doesn't understand that. Finally, he should be careful for what he wishes: given all his bluster and personal attacks, he 's more likely to be a libel defendant who needs the benefit of the current regime of libel law."
Thank you, George. And, of course, thanks to Kellyanne and Christopher for their well-honed, split-screen sparring.
John Dickerson replaces Charlie Rose
The dominoes of the sexual harassment mess at CBS now mean that John Dickerson moves from the high-minded Sunday morning "Face the Nation" slot to the more eclectic skill set needed to greet us all on "CBS This Morning." Writing in FTVLive, a blog with a pretty loyal audience in the TV world, Scott Jones exemplifies an almost predictable derision:
"The choice of Dickerson is classic CBS. A safe choice, a pretty much unknown (think Jeff Glor, Scott Pelley promotions) and one that won't cost them a lot of money."
"I could go on and tell you more about John Dickerson, but let's be honest, your eyes are already glassing over. "
Cheap shot. It's a very good choice. He's smart, amiable, funny and will be a hit. Might it take a bit for Rose's many ardent seniors' acolytes to get accustomed to him? Sure.
But that's the price of exhibiting such loyalty to a guy given to conducting job interviews in an unfastened bathrobe with nothing on underneath.
A double-edged sword in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Times is happy to have on board Gustavo Arellano, a columnist and the author of the books “Ask a Mexican” and “Taco USA." But his move there comes at the same time that Remezcla, a Latino culture website, did a 180-degree turn after he was initially hired as an editor there. The reason involved allegations that he'd used racist and homophobic language previously while at OC Weekly.
Asked about all that, he tells The New York Times, "There have been people who have been targeting me for a while. There’s always going to be people who don’t like what you write. If you don’t have haters you are not doing your job correctly. The people accusing me of being racist, they don’t take my career in perspective. We covered these communities better than anyone else in Orange County. What seems to be the issue right now, is that in this country if you don’t have the same thoughts as other people you are immediately marked as the enemy. I’ve always been about throwing stories out there, and I’ll defend them."
But all that's been out in the open, and the Los Angeles Times thinks he's value added for the paper.
Serena goes with Vogue again
Serena Williams gave Vogue the inside deal with her wedding and, now, photos of her and her new baby girl. "The cover photo, which was shot by Mario Testino, shows Williams in a red dress with a simple sweetheart neckline, gold accessories and her massive engagement ring. Meanwhile, baby Alexis is serving up onesie realness," writes The Undefeated.
Covering movies in a Weinstein era
On a Slate podcast, The New York Times' A.O. Scott says this:
"It’s been very complicated, just in the way that you talk about it. My job is to see movies and figure out my opinion of them and share that opinion. And that seemed, in many ways this year, a particularly irrelevant undertaking — first, just because of the sort of political upheaval that this country is in the middle of that was distracting everyone’s attention from movies all the time, and then because this whole moment — the reckoning or #MeToo or, as I like to think of it, the moral collapse of my own gender — happened and started with Harvey Weinstein."
"It’s moved well beyond Hollywood now, but it’s gotten me thinking about writing about the products of an intensely male-dominated industry that is built in a lot of different ways — in terms of what happens behind the scenes but also what we see on-screen — on the exploitation, and particularly the sexual exploitation, of women. And a lot that I’ve taken for granted or not thought about, say, the gender politics of American movies, I’ve had to really try to rethink. And I feel like, for a lot of us, male and female, critics and fans, we’re at an early stage in this rethinking process."
Luddite former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who announced that he'll run for U.S. Senate there at age 85, was chided from the right by Laura Ingraham on her radio show. Ingraham is unhappy with intimations of a Trump deal with Democrats on immigration.
"So if [Trump] sells out the voters and goes for amnesty and comprehensive reform, with 700 miles of some type of fencing or wall, Sheriff Joe is all on board with that — is that right?”
“I have confidence in him,” said Arpaio.
“Don’t you have confidence in your principles, Sheriff?” responded Ingraham. “You’re the guy who was tough as nails on the border … Aren’t the principles here what matter, sir?”
The Morning Babel
"Fox & Friends" was back to the dossier as Democratic scheming to tarnish Trump, whose take on his own first year it parroted, while heralding data on Americans' upbeat take on the economy. MSNBC's "Morning Joe" drilled down into data to show his escalating disapproval ratings, with The Washington Post's slimmed-down Robert Costa elaborating on the nearly three dozen congressional Republicans who won't run again (some because they're going for higher office but many because Trump is radioactive).
Over at CNN, "New Day" co-host Chris Cuomo was back at his usual perch — his strong-willed, censorious ways actually might be better suited for prime time — and with guests went over some of the Conway session and with co-host Alisyn Camerota wondered if Trump's libel comments are blather or onerous. Daily Beast editor John Avlon said they're both.
Wall Street and #MeToo
So why haven't we seen lots of sex harassment stories from Wall Street, Bloomberg asks.
"Some bankers and executives will tell you that’s because the industry cleaned out bad behavior more than a decade ago, after a string of lawsuits revealed what women were putting up with across top companies. That’s not the case, according to interviews with 20 current and former Wall Street women, who asked not to be identified describing personal experiences and observations."
"Some say they’ve been grabbed, kissed out of the blue, humiliated, and propositioned by colleagues and bosses but have stayed quiet because of cultural and financial forces that are particularly strong in banking. They say they have a lot to lose by speaking out, no certainty about what they’d gain, and legal agreements that muzzle them."
A local female TV anchor's wardrobe checklist
McSweeney's offers counsel for those armed with communication or journalism degrees and heading to their first anchor position. What to pack:
"Sleeveless Shirt or Shift Dress: It’s true that high-definition cameras turn the fittest of biceps into fat, dangling sausages. It’s also true your male co-anchor wouldn’t be caught dead delivering the news with his guns out. But trust me on this, girl — baring your arms, especially in the dead of winter when no one else is, shouts to the world that your sleeves are permanently rolled up for business."
"Stilettos: Nothing says 'take me seriously' quite like a pair of patent leather, 6-inch pumps, amirite? Anchor Bob over there could shove his hairy feet in a pair of muddy Birkenstocks and no one would give a rip. But YOU are held to stricter standards. So, just hobble on over to the weather center and tell us if it’s gonna rain or what, will ya?"
"Plunging Neckline & Pushup Bra: Do we still have to spell this out? Television is a v-i-s-u-a-l medium. So, OBVIOUSLY, education and news credentials — bad; high and smooshed together boobies — good. We’re talkin’ so smooshed and high the viewer wants to motor-boat ‘em. In 3-D. Nobody wants to see Anchor Steve’s distinguished gray chest hairs. So, grow up, keep your neckline low, your hemline high, and strap on those heels!"