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Douglas Andrews / September 29, 2021

CNN’s Sexual Predation

The struggling cable news network has been in the news lately, but for all the wrong reasons.

It’s a good thing CNN is The Most Trusted Name in News™, because otherwise we’d swear they were just a bunch of perverts.

In fairness, though, it might be that CNN employs non-perverts behind the scenes, and that only its on-air talent is perverted. But it could also be that perversion is like cockroaches: that for every perv we see, there are dozens more hiding off set and elsewhere around the newsroom.

We’re speaking, of course, about network anchors Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon, and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, all of whom have been beset recently by self-inflicted sexual scandals.

Last week, we learned that primetime anchor Cuomo sexually assaulted his one-time executive producer during his pre-CNN days at ABC.

In a New York Times guest column, former “Primetime Live” executive producer Shelley Ross detailed a 2005 incident in which Cuomo forcefully and non-consensually squeezed her butt. “I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,” he apparently told her. He did so with “a kind of cocky arrogance,” and right in front of Ross’s husband, who somehow refrained from bloodying Cuomo’s nose. Ross also shared an email in which Cuomo apologized for his behavior, so we can dispense with the “allegedly” stuff.

Good on Cuomo for having had the decency to apologize. Bad on Cuomo for having behaved like the primping privileged snot that we always knew him to be.

But Cuomo, who plays a great Fredo to big brother Andrew’s Michael, might also want to apologize for having privately advised his brother, the former New York governor, on how best to respond to sexual harassment allegations during a series of conference calls that included the Democrat governor, his top aide, his flacks, his lawyers, and sundry other advisers.

As it turns out, Chris knew a thing or two about sexual assault allegations.

Then there’s fellow primetime anchor Don Lemon, who, with apologies to Tucker Carlson, is even dumber than Cuomo when it comes to cable news talkingheads. No one — and we mean no one — is dumb enough “to make Don Lemon look like a particle physicist.”

In what will no doubt be the grossest, most revolting thing you read today, Lemon, during the summer of 2018, apparently put his hand down the front of his own shorts, vigorously rubbed himself, then pulled his hand back out, shoved his fingers into the mustache and under the nose of the plaintiff, one Dustin Hice, and then uttered some things that wouldn’t have a prayer of getting past our editor for standards and decency.

Lemon denies all this, but it looks like he and Hice will, after a lengthy delay, finally have their day in court, perhaps in January. As Hice rightly observes, the “vile” and “disgusting” alleged assault by Lemon would’ve been treated far differently if he, Hice, were a woman.

Finally, there’s the woebegone Toobin, the earnest onanist and longtime CNN legal analyst who got caught earlier this year while pleasuring himself on a Zoom call with colleagues from The New Yorker. (During our daily editors’ discussion this morning, it didn’t dawn on us that we’d have a chance to use the word onanist in a news story, but such is life when one draws the short straw and gets tasked with covering CNN.)

Perhaps Toobin’s episode holds a lesson for both Cuomo and Lemon. While they victimized other people, Toobin merely victimized himself. As The Washington Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles pleadingly puts it in a piece titled “‘Take Time To Be Sexual With Yourself’ and Other Self-Care Lessons for Professional Journalists,” “Please keep America’s long-suffering journalists in your thoughts and prayers.”

Indeed. Journalism is a tough gig, but somebody’s got to do it. And when it comes to sexual deviance, we’ve got to hand it to Toobin and his fellow reprobates.

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