Shrewd programming by Kelly. It’s topical thanks to the Pervnado, she’s in the middle of the story per her history with Roger Ailes and her inclusion in Time’s Person of the Year issue, and if anything’s apt to reinstigate the ratings-boosting Trump/Kelly feud, this is it. I’m mildly surprised that he hasn’t tweeted about it already this morning.
It’s shrewd timing by the accusers too. Said Samantha Holvey to Kelly:
“We are private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, and for them to say, ‘Nah, we don’t care’ — it hurt,” Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant, said. “This is round two, the environment’s different, let’s try again.”
The cultural environment is different for most men but not really for Trump or other populists Republican. A big-name private-sector employee who’s been accused may be canned summarily in order to protect the company’s bottom line. A Democratic public servant who’s been accused *might* be forced out, as John Conyers’s and Al Franken’s departures demonstrate, since Democrats have a stake in protecting their brand as feminist and “progressive.” A Republican public servant who’s been accused might also be pushed out, particularly if he’s an establishmentarian and disliked by the base. If Jeff Flake or Mitch McConnell were alleged to have committed misconduct, Republican populists would shove them towards the door more quickly than Democrats would.
But a populist Republican public servant who’s been accused and who isn’t easily expendable? Removing him will remain a heavy lift. The charges can always be spun for voters as originating from some nefarious elitist conspiracy among Democrats, establishment Republicans, the media, feminists, etc, to take down one of their mutual enemies. There’s no electoral incentive for Republicans to remove them from a ballot either, as Trump’s victory and Roy Moore’s likely victory tomorrow night demonstrate. The president himself is apparently increasingly skeptical of the sexual misconduct stories in the media, not just regarding Moore but regarding everyone:
Trump, according to three sources briefed on the discussions, cast doubt on the claims leveled by Moore’s accusers. Who were these women, he asked, and why had they kept quiet for 40 years only to level charges weeks before an election?
Trump’s sentiment — he has also complained privately that the avalanche of charges taking down prominent men is spinning out of control — helps explain the president’s evolving attitude toward Moore over the past three weeks, when he has gone from uncharacteristic silence to a full-throated endorsement of the controversial candidate. The shift has benefited both men, helping the scandal-tarred Moore bounce back from what looked like a probable defeat to become a slight favorite in Tuesday’s special election — and offering the president a chance to claim credit if Moore ekes out a win.
I’m embedding two clips from this morning’s show below although there are more at the “Today” show link. The most interesting accuser is Jessica Leeds, as her story is the hardest of the three to believe and yet she comes off as believable in her telling of it. She’s the woman who claimed she found herself seated next to a young Donald Trump on a flight circa 1980 and that, after some small talk, Trump began groping her — evidently in full view of other passengers. Even allowing for the less enlightened view of the times, it’s always been difficult to imagine that scenario, especially since Leeds claims she objected to the touching by standing up. She tells Kelly here (for the first time publicly, I think) that she ran into Trump at a party in Manhattan several years later and that not only did he recognize her, he allegedly said, “I remember you, you were that c**t woman from the airplane” — again, in full view of bystanders. Could that have really happened? As I say, she doesn’t come across as kooky or shady.
The White House issued a statement during Kelly’s show reiterating that it denies all charges. In lieu of an exit question, read Nancy French’s long but not exhaustive list of things Trump he’s been accused of saying and doing over the years with and about women.