Mika Brzezinski: Right now any woman can say anything and ruin a man's career

A leftover from this morning via Mediaite. In most Pervnado cases, particularly the ones involving big names, it’s way more than one woman who’s pointing a finger. There are literally scores of accusers against Harvey Weinstein; in Russell Simmons’s case, five different women (at last count) have alleged that he raped them. Al Franken didn’t get shoved towards the exit until the seventh allegation against him was made. Former “Morning Joe” mainstay Mark Halperin had multiple women accusing him before he became persona non grata.

Even in an instance where the supposed misconduct was murky and unspecified, as with Tavis Smiley, PBS says it retained a law firm to investigate the “troubling” accusations against him by interviewing various people, including Smiley himself. His show was only suspended, the network claims, after the firm “uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.” A month before the Weinstein scandal first broke, Fox Business reinstated host Charles Payne after investigating an allegation of sexual harassment against him and concluding that it was meritless. Which is to say, the nightmare scenario Mika fears, where a single woman can fart out a lie about a man and have the HR department leap to pink-slip him without an inquiry, isn’t happening most places.

But that’s not to say no one’s being railroaded. One of the most questionable firings over the past month involves a “Morning Joe” regular and, presumably, a good friend of Mika’s and Joe’s.

In two interviews with HuffPost, the woman alleged that [Harold] Ford engaged in harassment, intimidation, and forcibly grabbed her one evening in Manhattan, leading her to seek aid from a building security guard. The incident took place several years ago when Ford and the woman were supposed to be meeting for professional reasons. Ford continued to contact her after the encounter until she wrote an email asking him to cease contact.

The email, which was reviewed by HuffPost, shows that the woman emailed Ford after he repeatedly asked her to drinks. She asked him not to contact her anymore, citing his inappropriate conduct the evening where he forcibly grabbed and harassed her.

Ford replied to the email by apologizing and agreeing not to contact her. “Hey very sorry. Meant no harm,” the email reads. “And I apologize for whatever I may have said or what was said. And my overtures are strictly professional. Again I apologize didn’t mean to be inappropriate at all. Sorry that impression was left.”

Ford denied that he did anything wrong, saying, “I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.” He lost his job anyway. Maybe he talked to Joe and Mika about it and convinced them that he’s telling the truth. Question for legal eagles: What sort of tort might a former contract employee allege if he’s been fired for cause and he believes that cause is based on bogus allegations? The obvious possibility is wrongful termination but I thought that only applied to firings that are flatly illegal, e.g. because they’re discriminatory or retaliatory. Is there any legal recourse if you’re canned based on a third party’s lie and can show that the company didn’t investigate it thoroughly? The prospect of steep damages if someone is fired based on an inquiry which a jury might deem shoddy or biased is a strong incentive to companies to make sure both sides are treated fairly in a misconduct probe.

The case of a single accuser against one man is a nightmare scenario under normal circumstances and a particular nightmare in the middle of #MeToo coverage, when companies are eager to stamp out media fires before they start to rage. Absent hard evidence that impropriety occurred, it’s difficult to imagine a case where it’d be appropriate to terminate someone based on the say-so of a single accuser. But if it hasn’t happened yet in Ford’s case or someone else’s, it’s destined to happen eventually to a high-profile person. Mika’s just getting out in front of the curve in warning about it. She’ll remind you that she told you so later.

Meanwhile, if the conundrum of #BelieveAllWomen isn’t enough for you (really, all? no matter what?), my friend Karol Markowicz has been wringing her hands over a spate of op-eds by women lately on the knotty subject of agreeing to have sex with a man whom you really aren’t interested in having sex with.

Even when a woman’s literally saying yes, men are supposed to do the Vulcan mindmeld with her to see if she really means no? Good luck to America in negotiating that exciting new phase of feminism and “rape culture.”

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