Spoiler alert: It’s all our fault for demanding accountability from a 26-term elected official. After coming under considerable pressure to resign over a series of accusations about sexual harassment and abuse of power, Rep. John Conyers returned home to Detroit and promptly checked into a hospital. The 88-year-old Dean of the House reportedly ails from stress, understandable given that he’s faced his toughest scrutiny in decades as a result of secret settlements and testimony from former staffers of exploitation. However, Conyers’ political consultant lays the blame for the congressman’s ill health on the obvious culprit — the media.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 30, 2017
However, political consultant Sam Riddle spoke to reporters Thursday morning. He said Conyers is hospitalized due to stress. Riddle said he spoke to Conyers’ wife, Monica Conyers, Thursday morning.
“I just spoke with Monica Conyers on the phone and we want you to know that the congressman is resting comfortably in an area hospital. He’s doing OK, as well as he can be expected for a gentleman that’s approaching 90 years of age,” Riddle said. “The congressman’s health is not what it should be and lot of that is directly attributable to this media assault.”
Should any of Conyers’ defenders accuse others of “assault,” given the present circumstances? Perhaps the political consultant needs … a political consultant.
Besides, the entire idea that the “media” made Conyers sick by probing into his actions as an elected official is nonsense, and dangerous nonsense at that. Should we refrain from scrutinizing all politicians on the off chance it might make them feel a bit unwell? Talk about an entitled elite! Why not just bring back lèse majeste while we’re at it?
If the congressman is at such an age where he can’t stand up to scrutiny and be held accountable for how he fulfills his public trust, then he’s too old to have that public trust. The scrutiny and accountability come with the job. Riddle’s statement may have been meant to back reporters off the story, but it should have the opposite effect; it should prompt House Democrats to demand that Conyers step down for his own health. And if he’s truly ill, then that would be the work of friends looking out for one of their own, at least in part.
And perhaps that’s what Conyers has in mind. It would certainly give him a convenient excuse to leave without having to go through a Frankenesque modified limited hangout. No “my memory is different from theirs but I feel their pain” passive-aggressive non-apology. Instead, Conyers can now claim to have been victimized by his victims and exit the stage blaming everyone else for demanding answers about how he comported himself and handled taxpayer funds during his 52-year career as a public official. In terms of chutzpah, this would certainly be impressive.
The victims had begun to step up their campaign just as Conyers headed into the hospital. Former staffer Marion Brown, who signed the secret settlement that got exposed earlier this month and set off a cascading series of revelations about Conyers, appeared this morning on NBC’s Today show. Brown says that Conyers “asked me to satisfy him sexually,” including a request while in his underwear to “touch it.”
By the way, note who’s sitting next to Brown here:
“I felt it was worth the risk to stand up for all the women in the workforce that are voiceless. Ordinary women like me,” Marion Brown said during a “Today Show” interview in NBC.
Brown said Conyers “touched me in different ways” over the years she worked for him and “violated my body.”
In one instance, she said, Conyers invited her to a hotel room in Chicago under the guise of discussing business but was in his underwear when she arrived.
“He asked me to satisfy him sexually,” she said. “He pointed to areas of, genital areas of his body and asked me to, you know, touch it.”
Brown’s companion is Lisa Bloom, whose mother Gloria Allred rebuked her publicly for defending Harvey Weinstein. According to Ronan Farrow and Lloyd Grove, Bloom did more than just act as Weinstein’s representative in court; she was part of the effort to manipulate the media so as to discredit Weinstein’s victims if they went public. What is Bloom doing here now, then? Did someone arrange for Brown to hire Bloom in order to rehabilitate her reputation as a feminist activist?
Oddly enough, Bloom’s track record with Weinstein never comes up, even when the talk turns to non-disclosure agreements, and even when Bloom starts talking about power imbalances in legal representation. I wonder if Weinstein’s victims might want to have a word with Bloom about that?
Hopefully, there’s nothing seriously wrong with Rep. Conyers. His victims deserve to have the opportunity to hold him publicly accountable, not to be shamed back into silence over his health issues.
Update: Pelosi’s not waiting for him to get better before throwing him under the bus:
“I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well,” Pelosi told reporters. “However, Congressman Conyers should resign.”
Let’s see if they start blaming Pelosi for Conyers’ health…