She’ll catch hell for this even though she says she’s skeptical of the allegations against Brokaw too. But she’s right. In the end, all you can say of a friend’s behavior behind closed doors is “He doesn’t seem like the type,” which is worth next to nothing. Does no one remember all of the Foxies who sneered when Gretchen Carlson first accused Roger Ailes of harassment?
I don’t think Hannity was lying for Ailes. He was making a judgment about him based on his own interactions with him and granting him the benefit of the doubt because he hadn’t personally heard anyone accuse him of anything. Understandable, but the point of #MeToo is that if you’re harassed by someone powerful in your profession you take great care in choosing whom to share your secret with. The harasser’s very powerful buddy in the 9 p.m. slot wasn’t an obvious choice.
That’s why I’m surprised to see women heavy hitters at NBC like Rachel Maddow and Mika Brzezinski sign a letter vouching for Brokaw’s good character. They’re noble for standing by a friend, particularly knowing they’ll be accused by some of selling out feminism in doing so, but … you don’t know what you don’t know. (Remember, a second woman beside Linda Vester also accused Brokaw of inappropriate behavior in the Washington Post’s story last week about NBC.) The risk isn’t that they’ll end up being personally embarrassed if more dirt comes out on him; the risk is that there are women who are right now weighing whether to speak up about him and suddenly find themselves discouraged because the most prominent progressive female stars at the network are laying out the case for skepticism preemptively. If you’ve been harassed, you expect the man who harassed you to call you a liar. You don’t expect liberal heartthrob Rachel Maddow to signal you’re probably a liar before you’ve even opened your mouth.
What do you do in this situation if you’re Maddow, then? You don’t want to let a friend be hanged in the court of public opinion when all of the evidence you have on him suggests he’s not guilty. But you don’t want to be Hannity either, assuming that you have all of the evidence, period, when you don’t. #MeToo is a witch hunt with the twist that some of the accused really are witches. How do you encourage the real victims to speak up while discouraging the charlatans? If the answer is “due process for the accused and everyone reserves judgment of both sides in the meantime,” well, the Maddow letter isn’t really an example of reserving judgment. It’s a case for skepticism, however its signatories spin it.
Note Kelly’s dig at Hillary Clinton, which is also accurate. Hillary thinks every accuser should be believed — except when it’s inconvenient for her personally, of course.