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What Did Corporate Media Feminists Know and When Did They Know It?

After, my favorite commentator, Joy Reid,  moderated a panel pointing to Fox News as shielding sexual harassers, I cited, on Facebook, that sexual harassment was present at NBC, her network. During the week following her broadcast, MSNBC’s Mark Halperin was fired for sexual harassment. During the Obama administration, Mark Halperin was suspended from NBC for calling President Obama “a dick.”

Was Melissa Harris-Perry, who had an MSNBC show until she was fired, aware that White sexual predators worked at MSNBC when she was instructed by her producers to rope in a Black male rascal weekly, often joined by members of her Black academic intersectionality caucus, the Black academic slave patrol? Sometimes, during her show, men from other ethnic groups would join in on the bashing of the brothers. Sports writer David Zirin got so carried away, he began calling himself a Black feminist. We both were invited to appear on Amy Goodman’s show after Muhammad  Ali’s death. I’m author of a book about the champion, The Complete Muhammad Ali. I told the pre-interviewer that I would ask Zirin, the Black feminist, his commitment to ending the oppression of Hasidic women in the United States and Israel, where in some situations Jewish women have to sit at the back of the bus. He didn’t appear for the broadcast.

Sexual harassment has been practiced at NBC at least since 1980. The NBC patriarchs, hypocrites, instructed their surrogates to concentrate on O.J., Clarence Thomas, Ray Rice, Bill Cosby, etc. Also, were the talented tenth men at The New Yorker, The Nation, and The New Republic etc., who joined in on the scapegoating of Black men (even reaching back to Booker T. Washington!) for misogynistic attitudes, aware that some of the men who put them up to it have been exposed recently for harassing women for decades? Did they read Jamaica Kincaid’s book, See Then Now, winner of an American Book Award? That goes for The New Republic, NPR and other outlets where feminists were instructed by their patriarchal employees to blame misogyny on Clarence Thomas and other Black men, yet it’s been revealed in the last few weeks that some of their bosses were predators. For decades NPR’s Terry Gross has used a bad acting Black man to blame all Black men for misogyny. In The New Republic, which was recently outed as hiding a predator, I was singled out by a surrogate for a remark about  film“The Color Purple” which I never made. I tried to correct the accusation in a letter. They refused to print the letter. They suggested that I write an article. They didn’t like the article. But The New Republic doesn’t have the reach that NBC has.

Here are some entries that are included in former NBC newsman Bob Teague’s book, Live and Off Color. “There was a nagging suspicion among us, males and females alike, that many of the sweet young things getting off the bus every day would sell their souls or bodies for a television job in the Big Apple.” Or, he quotes a woman who worked at the network: “He said there was no opening on the staff at the moment, but to call him back next Monday. He might have something for me–if I could accept the fact that fucking would be part of the deal.” Another female correspondent told Teague about an interview she had with a producer at WNBC.  After praising her abilities, “He said he wanted me to go to bed with him. And if I wanted the job, I would have to.” This book was published in 1982!

So while corporate media feminists have been instructed to dog the brothers and loop their dumb and often cruel oafish moves against women, they’ve engaged in a conspiracy of silence about the predators who employ them? Is this why Representative Conyers was forced into retirement, while other alleged predators including the president and other congressmen have been given a pass? Congress has spent 17 million dollars on settling sexual harassment suits, so how can Conyers be the only one? Why won’t Representative Jackie Speier identify the two Congressmen she says are guilty of aggression toward women?  Is she part of the cover-up?

Is this why the women at MSNBC and elsewhere in the media have been instructed to spend almost as much time on Clarence Thomas as on Roy Moore, an alleged child molester!! I’m not the only Black male who notices these things. I just have more international outlets to express my reactions. Howard Moore, Jr., the distinguished lawyer, who got Angela Davis off for a murder rap, also questions why Clarence Thomas is held by corporate feminists as the poster boy for misogyny when there are White men who have done worse. He writes

Clarence Thomas should not be in the conversation about recently exposed sexual harassers. He didn’t expose himself to Anita Hill; he didn’t grope her; he didn’t force Anita Hill to watch him pleasure himself; and he didn’t rape her or try to do so. By current legal standards, what Anita Hill said Clarence Thomas did would not support a claim of sexual harassment. Throwing Clarence Thomas into the conversation is playing the race card pure and simple. That doesn’t mean what Anita Hill said he did was all right. It wasn’t. Clarence Thomas shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court, but his opponents played the race card and lost. They should have focused on President George H. Bush’s lack of good judgment to nominate a jurist with such a limited background and meager qualifications.

Will White women stop playing Stepford to powerful Patriarchs?

While women who are members of what is called the diversity coalition–Black, Latina, Asian-American, and Jewish–voted for Senator Clinton in large numbers, the majority of White women voted for Trump. “Ninety-four percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. Sixty-eight percent of Latina women did so. But 53 percent of the white female voters in this country voted for Donald Trump.”* Trump received support from White Women even after some of their sisters complained about his sexual aggression toward them. He even admitted to these practices in the famous Access Hollywood tape. (White women also voted in majorities for Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor of California, even after The Los Angeles Times exposed his sexual assaults on women.* He received 63% of the votes of White Women in 2006!).

Some of those who make excuses for Trump voters claim that their votes were based on economic reasons. Whites of all classes voted for Trump. Two women, CNN commentators, said that White women voted for Trump because they hated Hillary Clinton. However, the majority of White women also voted for former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.** Mr. Romney threatened to end Planned Parenthood, whose services have led to the survival of thousands of women as a result of their offering precancerous screening and other services.

Bernadine Dohrn, former Weather Woman, had another explanation for the majority of White women voting for Trump. She said that they chose race over gender. This perhaps explains why they found it easier to accuse Black men of misogyny than men whom they depended upon for advancement. This has led to a billion-dollar industry in film, publishing, and television products that feature Black Bogeymen, a term used by Black critic C. Leigh McInnis. These products, according to him “sell better than sex.” Perhaps, this is why it took so long for White women to admit that their White male media bosses were predators? The women at Fox News must have known for decades about Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes, who both accosted women employees.

None of her women colleagues came to her aid when Ann Curry was humiliated by her male colleagues at NBC, including Matt Lauer. There was no response from media feminists when Carole Simpson, a Black correspondent, and recipient of an American Book Award, published a book about sexual assaults against her committed by her male network colleagues. She had to self-publish her book, NewsLady, and during interviews was bombarded with hostile questions from her male interviewers. So why did it take so long for media feminists to say Me Too! Why didn’t they say Me Too when Carole Simpson self-published her book? She writes, “Historically, whites considered black women as ‘loose’ or ‘easy.’ Men I worked with apparently bought the myth and were always ‘hitting on me,’ to a degree white women didn’t experience. My white female colleagues might get a come on like, ‘How about we grab a drink after work tonight?’ To me they would say, ‘Why don’t we get it on tonight?’ or ‘I could use a good lay. I’m up for it. Are you?’ They would talk about my legs. The conversation with one guy began, ‘You have some great legs. Why don’t you wrap them around me?’ And he would make a crude gesture. I had one man at WMAQ, stick his hand down my blouse and touch my breasts. Another pulled down the long zipper on a dress I was wearing in front of other people. These coarse remarks and actions always took place while we were trying to work, or at least while I was trying to work.” Where were her Me Too White feminist colleagues? A male guest on S.E. Cupp’s show, broadcast on December 5th , announced Gretchen Carlson of Fox News, as the “Godmother” of the Me Too movement. No. Carole Simpson is the Godmother and whistleblower Bob Teague is the Godfather. They got Elvised by Ms. Cupp’s male guest.

Why did it take a blonde news woman, Gretchen Carlson of Fox News, to gain attention for her book about misogyny at the networks in the first place? Harriet Fraad might offer one explanation why White women have been complicit. She writes in Tikkun magazine that the feminist movement began as working class and integrated, but was coopted by corporate types. Maybe the media White women ignored the predatory advances of their White male colleagues because they didn’t want to lose their jobs. Maybe the congresswomen are refusing to identify the predators because they needed the predators’ votes.

I never said that Black men cannot be crude in their treatment of women. I have been there myself. My position has been that they’ve been singled out.

So have White women finally seen the light? Maybe we’ll find out in the upcoming Alabama election. Two Alabama professors, both White women, told me that southern White women follow their husbands’ lead when voting. Does this include voting for a candidate who has prowled the malls in search of teenage sexual prey? It’s hard to predict. After all, they voted for a president who admitted to hanging out in dressing rooms for an opportunity to leer at teenagers preparing to compete in beauty contests while they were in various stages of undress. If White women stopped voting in majorities for their oppressors, men who send their sisters to back alley abortions, force their children off of health programs like CHIP, send their mothers into prostitution in order to feed their children, or into garbage cans rummaging for food, the mean girl Republican Party would disintegrate overnight. Maybe it’s time for a new Freedom Summer that would send volunteers to the South to educate White women. Maybe NOW could organize it. That way, the public will be reminded that it’s still in business.

Sources

1 White Women Voted Trump. Now What? Phoebe Lett, The New York Times, Nov.10, 2016.

2 “What’s Up with White Women? They Voted for Romney, Too,” By John Cassidy, The New Yorker November 8, 2012

3 “Women Say Schwarzenegger Groped, Humiliated Them The acts allegedly took place over three decades. A campaign aide denies the accusations.”  October 02, 2003 by Gary Cohn, Carla Hall and Robert W. Welkos, Times Staff Writers The Los Angeles Times.

4  63% of White Women Voted for Schwarzenegger

 

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Ishmael Reed is the author of The Complete Muhammad Ali.

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