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Sexual harassment or political harassment?

November 1, 2011

Sunday, Politico posted a hit piece on Herman Cain alleging that he sexually harassed two female employees of the National Restaurant Association back in the 1990s. The sources for the accusations are all anonymous, whereas people who worked with Cain and expressed doubt about Politico's story were willing to go on the record… so of course Politico put their comments at the end of the four-page story.

Unnamed sources on the front page, named sources on the last page: that pretty well sums up the level of journalism practiced by Politico.

I don't visit the Politico website often because I generally avoid untrustworthy sources of information. I think the kind of reporting Politico does is not only dishonest and shameful, but dangerous to the nation. It's completely ethical to do opinion journalism if you admit it up front – like It's not ethical to do opinion journalism while pretending to be objective – like CBS News or the New York Times. Worse than that, though, is doing opinion journalism while pretending to be objective and also twisting or inventing facts – like Politico.

Let's make special note of the fact that one of the authors (probably the lead author, although Jonathan Martin is listed first) of the hit piece is Kenneth P. Vogel, a former employee of the George Soros-funded Center for Public Integrity (sarcasm likely inadvertent) who was hired by Politico in 2007 and continued doing exactly what he was doing for Soros: hit pieces on conservatives. That's his chosen vocation. He's the official "chief investigative reporter" at Politico and also the only one. What does that tell you?

Martin was interviewed on MSNBC's Morning Joe yesterday morning and sounded more evasive than John Gotti in front of a grand jury when Willie Geist asked him some very simple questions:
Geist: Hey Jonathan, what are the allegations specifically as you understand them?

Martin: We... we... well, we have to be careful about that obviously, because we're sensitive to...

Geist: Of course.

Martin: ...the sourcing involved here. And also, what actually happened to these women as well, we want to be sensitive to that, too.
Huh? He sounds more like a politician evading a question than Herman Cain ever did. Attacking the leading candidate for the presidency is kind of a big deal, cumquat, so just tell us specifically – specifically – what you are accusing Cain of doing! Is that so hard? Isn't your byline on this thing?

He continues:
Martin: We… we… we're just not going to get into the details of exactly what happened with these women besides what's in the story.
What a mealy-mouthed crapturd. "Besides what's in the story?" There is nothing in the story except intentionally vague statements like this one:
"There were descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship."
"Physical gestures that were not overtly sexual?" What in the world does that mean? After reading this gobbledygook, we don't even know whether the complainer was the one toward whom the gesture was directed. It sounds like maybe some third-party busy-body "witness" complained. There's no way to know because the Politico piece is so poorly written.

Please, God, don't let my mental faculties ever deteriorate to the point where people can't tell what I'm trying to say when I write.

It's funny how the merest suggestion of one or two "uncomfortable" people from decades in the past will get plastered across front pages and trumpeted on mainstream news broadcasts immediately, even when there are no concrete facts, when a Republican is the target. Remember Clarence Thomas and the Coke? John McCain and Vicki Iseman? Sarah Palin’s baby not really being her baby?

But men sending naked photos of their private parts (Weiner), and using cigars as sexual devices in the Oval Office (Clinton), and fathering children by mistresses while their wives are dying of cancer (Edwards), all stories that were actually true, sat in unpublished purgatory for months or years because the targets were Democrats. If it wasn't for non-mainstream news sources, the public never would have known about them because the mainstream media refused to publish them.

Comments to the Politico story and on various Monday radio talk shows were full of men sympathetic to Cain's situation. It's almost impossible to be a man in the American workplace without acquiring one or two complaints of this type. One comment that made me laugh was by a man who said, "Wow, now I really like Cain. If you looked at my history there'd be 15 or 20 complaints. Cain must be a really nice guy if he only has two."

There is no downside for a woman who makes such a complaint, very little proof is needed to ruin a man's reputation and fill the work atmosphere with awkwardness and bitterness, and often the woman will gain some kind of financial benefit, either in the form of a severance package better than what she would ordinarily have received, or in the form of unwarranted salary increases and perks. It's an awkward fact for feminists who fought to clean up the American workplace that many women are using sexual harassment laws to game the system.

Like Cain, I'm the kind of man who would never harass a co-worker, but I, too, have suffered the indignity of being accused. Twice. That I know about. In both cases I was fortunate to have female bosses, because the sort of women who make spurious sexual harassment claims find it's more difficult fooling other women.

The first instance was decades ago, and the accuser was accusing other men at the same time, one of whom didn't even know who she was. (That added a bit of humor to the mess: “Who? What does she look like?”) Because of the unbelievability (and weirdness) of her claims, and her rather apparent disconnect from reality in other matters, she was offered counseling and therapy for a nervous breakdown and that was the end of that, although I made sure to avoid her area thereafter, as did other men.

The second instance happened more recently and was more worrisome because I'd just started in a new position, so nobody knew me well enough to vouch for my character. The uncomfortable part for a man is that they won't necessarily tell you who made the accusation, so you might not even know what you did. In my case, I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could have done that might be misconstrued. For a second or two I worried that my unnatural masculinity and otherworldly handsome-osity might cause me to sexually harass just by existing. That was only for a second or two, then some friends and a former girlfriend disabused me of the idea.

Eventually I remembered being forced into answering the phones one day when both receptionists were absent. One of my co-workers, a young lady almost as new as me, kept calling the main switchboard because she couldn't remember her superior's direct number. "I'm sorry," she kept saying, "I forgot again." I would chuckle, give her the direct number, and transfer her. The fourth or fifth time this happened, with me chuckling and her apologizing, I said, "Jeepers, the way you keep calling me, I'm starting to think you have a crush on me."

Lame humor, admittedly, but I was new, feeling a bit awkward, and just trying to make a joke. Ya know? I was in my fifties; she was in her early twenties. The notion that she would think I was flirting wasn't even on my radar. But there it is – that's what it's like in the modern workplace. Fortunately for me, my boss, a middle-aged woman, thought it was utter nonsense and simply warned me to be on my toes.

But what if I ran for President of the United States? It shouldn't be like this.

I'm sure at some point in the past the workplace was a contemptibly filthy, unacceptably threatening, chauvinistic pigsty that needed conscious overt protection for female sensibilities, but most working Americans realize that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. If somebody took a poll, I bet the prevailing sentiment by both genders would be that women have by far the worst potty mouths in the work environment. Women can pretty much say or do anything they want, while men need to walk around on tippy-toes hoping they don't offend... many of them ending up in trouble sooner or later anyway.

That's the plain truth, and Politico knows it. There may or may not be a scandalous story about Herman Cain ultimately, but so far the only scandal is Politico's yellow journalism.

If there is any justice in the world, Jonathan Martin and Kenneth Vogel will be having a conversation one day that involves a female dog, they will be overheard from a neighboring cubicle and misinterpreted, and find themselves up to their scrawny necks in a karmic mud puddle.

One can only hope.

From Reno, Nevada, USA       

November 3, 2011 - Mr. Travis - I listened to a significant part of your show last Saturday and question how you can claim to have a balanced show when you allow it to be a front for for the Koch Brothers as the AFP really is. No wonder why you are an apologist for Herman Cain. I would also like to ask how a so-called conservative like yourself would appear on the Obama campaign fundraising e-mail list? as you mentioned in your past column. I can only conclude you were a supporter of his at one point. How quickly we turn with the prevailing winds, huh? - C.N., Virginia
J.P. replies: 1. Cain has done nothing needing an apology – 2. I've never met a Koch brother (although the "donate" button on my website is there whenever they get an inclination) – 3. Almost every conservative commentator is on Obama's mailing list... it's called research – 4. I don't claim to be "balanced" (why water down being right by compromising with what's wrong?) – 5. Why don't you call into the show and discuss matters?

November 1, 2011 - A very informative site. It certainly is a centralized resource to counter liberalism! A tip for sponsorship: Amazon will pay 4% to 15% of sales generated from a clicked link off your site. You just need an Amazon account (and to be in a state that hasn't blocked this feature). Perhaps put links to popular conservative books on your home page? I also wanted to share my novel, American Intelligence. It's a spy novel written with conservative values. It's available for Kindle. A free excerpt is here. - Tim Larkin, Illinois

November 1, 2011 - I've endured actual sexual PHYSICAL harassment, yet agree with most of what you say. These BITCHES who game the system made it very difficult for me, struggling to make people believe my story. In the firm where I worked a woman filed a harassment complaint for a barely/semi/maybe/slightly dirty joke told in the break room by a man she was known to resent for his promotion. HER picayune envy-motivated complaint, filed shortly before my legitimate complaint, affected MY credibility. - Beth R., Oregon

November 1, 2011 - Love reading your blog, Jim! Always agree with your thoughts! - Lynne S., Illinois

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