The Media/Political Fraternity Protects Its Own
"Everybody knew" has been the go-to term attached to the despicable behavior of elite low-lifes.
“Don’t get in the elevator with him. … Every female in the press corps knew that, right? Don’t get in the elevator with him. Now people are saying it out loud. And I think that does make a difference.” —Cokie Roberts referring to Democrat Rep. John Conyers
In the last few weeks, “everybody knew” has been the go-to term attached to the despicable behavior of low-lifes in Congress and the media. Behavior that people in positions of authority knew about and tolerated, as long as it accrued to their interests to do so. And those interests, as in a sickening fraternization between a media that has given up even the pretense of being a government watchdog and politicians so corrupt they established a fund to insulate themselves from accountability has reached critical mass.
There is little doubt Cokie Roberts remains oblivious to how self-incriminating the above statement truly is. Roberts worked as a congressional correspondent for both ABC News and NPR for more than 20 years, primarily in the 1990s. Prior to that, she had a three year stint from 1981-1984 co-hosting “The Lawmakers,” a weekly public television program on Congress.
During that entire time, a predatory Conyers served in Congress.
Media predators were equally protected — even after they were outed. Thus, last Wednesday’s MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” began the second hour of its broadcast with a clip of “heartbroken” Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb breaking the news that serial predator Matt Lauer had been axed from NBC. The duo claimed the details of why were unknown, but that didn’t stop Morning Joe’s panelists from asserting that Lauer was a man of “class” and “dignity,” with host Joe Scarborough wondering aloud “how do we sort through this moment?”
How about finding out who’s lying, Joe? Despite initial assurances by Guthrie and Kotb that they were blindsided by the revelations about Lauer, Variety writer Ramin Setoodeh insists Lauer’s behavior “wasn’t even considered a secret,” and that it was “known by many employees at the TODAY Show, including some employees that have gone on television and said publicly ‘we had no idea.’”
Why the cover-up? “Several women told Variety they complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today,’” Setoodeh reveals.
Advertising worth $30 million? Lauer’s attorneys are looking for that amount to buy out his remaining contract. NBC insists it won’t happen, but columnist Ed Morrissey wonders if such a payment might be worth it for NBC owner Comcast, if the corporation can keep a lid on what “everybody at NBC knew about Matt Lauer’s sexually inappropriate behavior” as a current “Today” staffer put it.
The New York Post’s Maureen Callahan wonders why Guthrie would read Lauer’s self-serving apology on the air, acting as “body armor for a known predator who spent decades victimizing her female co-workers,” and why other “ostensibly smart, together, professional women” would “publicly agonize over deviant criminal behavior.” She asks, “What, really, is there to understand?”
That they’re all part of the same elitist fraternity, Ms. Callahan. The one where “lesser” employees remain expendable, and the predators’ colleagues will protect them to the point of self-debasement. Colleagues like CBS co-anchor Gayle King, who was saddened by the revelations surrounding Charlie Rose. “What do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something so horrible?” she asked on air. “I’m really grappling with that.”
Congressional elitists are also “grappling” with their own preposterous assertions they were unaware of Conyers’ behavior, despite a $27,000 payoff to one of his victims from the Office of Compliance. The OOC was set by Congress up to coordinate undisclosed payoffs to victims of congressional malfeasance that included sexual harassment claims.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially believed referring to Conyers as an “icon” would provide sufficient insulation. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the third ranking member of the House Democrat Caucus, used the story of convicted child murderer Susan Smith, who had told authorities a black man kidnapped them, to suggest Conyers’ white accusers were lying.
Pelosi is now calling for Conyers’ resignation, following allegations by Marion Brown, Conyers’ deputy chief of staff from 2003 to 2014, who broke an OOC-required nondisclosure agreement to speak publicly. And keeping the race card in play, Congressional Black Caucus members are wondering why a white Sen. Al Franken isn’t held to the same standard as Conyers.
An excellent question, but it ignores the reality that the word “standard” is strictly a euphemism with no relationship to accountability. Thus, both men will be subjected to their respective chambers’ Ethics Committees before any action is undertaken — a nationally publicized photo of Franken’s touching a sleeping woman’s breasts notwithstanding.
How effective are those committees? “Many accused politicians — Conyers, Franken — are still in place, their activities ‘to be investigated’ by this same Ethics Committee that has, in essence, investigated no one,” explains columnist Roger L. Simon, who adds “this protection racket … has been going on for years.”
In the last 20 years, the OOC awarded to complainants 268 taxpayer-funded settlements totaling $17.2 million. Some undisclosed portion of those funds were used to settle sexual harassment complaints.
And they remain undisclosed because of the aforementioned nondisclosure agreements. Agreements required just to begin a complaint process so arduous Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) believes it is set up to “protect the institution rather than the most vulnerable,” as she aptly put it.
Worse, the OOC is not the only taxpayer-funded congressional protection fund. “Severance packages” (read: payoffs) can also be negotiated by the House Employment Counsel, such as the $48,395 taxpayer-funded payout by Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) to settle a “hostile workplace” complaint. Grijalva insists sexual harassment wasn’t part of the equation, but it is reported his accuser also signed a nondisclosure agreement.
Peter Flaherty, president of the watchdog organization National Legal and Policy Center, illuminates the possibilities, stating, “Sexual harassment settlements are sometimes disguised as other transactions, like severance payments. These are very hard to unravel.”
What’s not hard to unravel is the contemptible notion that the names of the transgressors remain undisclosed to the American taxpayers who paid their settlements. And unlike their counterparts in media who can be fired, creeps like Franken and Conyers can make half-hearted apologies and stick around.
Moreover like any good fraternity, these insufferable elitists in both groups can rely on their numerous apologists to soften the blows. “Today, we are in mourning,” states former Charlie Rose assistant Kyle Godfrey-Ryan in a column attempting to reconcile her own failure to confront Rose’s misogyny.
We, Ms. Godfrey-Ryan? Columnist Tina Trent exposes the hypocrisy: “When Cokie Roberts announced this week that the entire tribe of female Capitol Hill reporters knew better than to get into an elevator with Congressman John Conyers Jr., a Detroit Democrat, my first reaction was this: did they warn the cleaning staff?”
Of course not. The “cleaning staff,” a.k.a. ordinary Americans, are not part of the media/political fraternity.
Thus, like millions of their fellow outsiders, they must fend for themselves.