“Trump Risks Hypocrisy Charges with Franken Attack,” The Hill informs us. No shit, Sherlock. In fact, given Rump’s history with women accusing him of sexual predation, there is no risk at all — his Twitter attacks on Franken are pure hypocrisy — and no charges need to be filed, except maybe by law enforcement.
It’s been an exhausting couple of weeks, as more famous and powerful men than you can count on your fingers and toes have been named as instigators of unwanted sexual advances at the very least, with rape at the top of the heap, by more women and men than you can count on the fingers and toes of five or six of your closest friends.
Fortunately, late-night television writers haven’t lost their sense of humor. “As a fellow comedian, I long admired Al Franken,” Stephen Colbert said one night last week. “But I’ve got to say, this does not bode well for Louis C.K.’s Senate hopes.”
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
This week, Franken’s troubles widened, with a woman coming forward to say he “put his hand full-fledged on my rear” as her husband took a photo of the two of them at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. (The couple now live in Texas, perhaps less than wowed with the legendary “Minnesota Nice.”)
But particularly appalling among accusations that have surfaced recently is one from a transgender woman, Trace Lysette, who plays a character named Shea on the series “Transparent.” She alleges that her perp is none other than the star of the series, Jeffrey Tambor. Lysette told the Hollywood Reporter that Tambor made “many sexual advances and comments at me, but one time it got physical… My back was against the wall in a corner as Jeffrey approached me. He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrusts back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas and I pushed him off of me.”
Tambor, of course, has denied the accusations. As one of my smartest teachers, “Doc” Walters, told me in high school, “Deny everything. Admit nothing. Because as soon as you acknowledge having done one thing, they’ll decide you did them all.” Rest in peace, “Doc.”
I missed the accusation made against Tambor that preceded Lysette’s. As SFGate reports, “Earlier this month, Amazon opened an investigation into the actor after Van Barnes, a trans actress and Tambor’s former assistant, accused him of sexual harassment in a private Facebook post, allegations which Tambor ‘adamantly and vehemently’ denied.”
Meanwhile, “Eight women have told the Washington Post that longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.” Not to make too much light of this, but I wouldn’t want to see Charlie Rose wandering around naked. Then again, I wouldn’t even want to see me wandering around naked.
These women worked for Rose from the late 1990s to 2011; Rose was at least 67 at the time he exposed himself to these women. Not to be ageist, but let’s face it — if you’re planning to sexually abuse someone, you’ve got much better odds of not sparking outrage if you’re close to the victim’s age.
But let me be clear: it’s not Rose’s age that makes this story vile. It’s sexual predation.
As it is with Glenn Thrush, the New York Times reporter who essentially threw away star status allegedly for a few moments of one-sided bliss with women he worked with. Thrush flew from a position at Politico.com to the New York Times and frequent MSNBC appearances. He was famous enough to be impersonated on “Saturday Night Live” in sketches about the circus that is the daily White House press briefing. And now? He would seem to be just another sick predator, perhaps using what his bosses must have told him were his magnificent people skills and ability to relate to everyday people. Even worse, the impact that his reporting has had in calling the president’s agenda into question is all at risk. Never mind that Rump boasted about grabbing women’s “pussies.” One false move by a critic is enough to derail considerable good work done despite personal failings.
All of this, of course, comes after weeks of revelations about Hollywood and other entertainment celebrities, including megaproducer Harvey Weinstein, actors Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven, and Ed Westwick, comedian Louis C.K., and director James Toback.
Meanwhile, in that other pretend world — politics — Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate, Roy Moore, stands accused of having a thing (read: erection) for teenage girls while in his 30s. One of his many accusers alleges that Moore, who at times has gone so far as to suggest gay people should be executed — and certainly supports our imprisonment — was so intent on pursuing her that he called her high school and had her pulled out of class to take his predatory phone call. Her response to him proved one of the few light spots in what is otherwise a grim roster of the ways men who think they’re powerful, both straight and gay, use that authority sexually against those with less power. According to the then-teenager, she uttered the now-immortal statement, “I’m in trig class!” as a way of terminating the conversation.
We turn now to Vice.com for more Moore: “Moore maintains that the accusations are ‘fake news,’ and wrote an open letter to Fox News host and pro-Trump propagandist Sean Hannity in which he claims to have been ‘attacked by the Washington Post and other liberal media in a desperate attempt to smear my character and defeat my campaign.’ He accused his accusers of lying, and even claimed that what looked like his signature in an accuser’s high school yearbook was the result of ‘tampering.’ But lest we forget, something similar happened to the president. A month before his election, Donald Trump was revealed to have bragged into an open mic in 2005 that he grabbed women ‘by the pussy,’ and that he kissed them without permission. He was also accused of predatory behavior by more than a dozen women. Then he won. But though he maintains that all of his accusers are lying and though he has not yet joined the Republican outcry against Moore, he has responded to fresh accusations against Democratic Senator Al Franken — who posed for a photo of himself grabbing a sleeping woman’s breasts, and is accused of kissing her without permission — by accusing him of even worse behavior on Twitter.”
What exactly did Rump tweet? “The Al Frankenstien [sic] picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?...”
Leave it to Rump not only to misspell the most famous monster in history (actually, of course, his mad-scientist creator) but also to conjure up five even more disgusting images than the one for which Franken had already abjectly apologized.
Team Moore, including his wife, has been generating more than enough fake news to go around, Vice’s Mike Pearl reports: “‘Second Roy Moore Accuser Works For Michelle Obama Right NOW,’ the headline says, and gosh, I know some Facebook uncles who are eager to hit the share button on a story like that. Indeed, according to the counter on the site that published it, Lastlineof
They’ve got to be kidding, right? Well, as a matter of fact they are.
“But hold the phone!” Pearl continues. “This isn’t real news, and we can be sure of that because according to a disclaimer at the bottom of every page, Lastlineof
But that’s not all. As Pearl goes on to report, “Then, like a bolt from the blue around November 15, a robo-call claiming to be from the Washington Post started ringing phones in Alabama. Initially reported by a pastor named Al Moore (no relation), the calls to the homes of potential voters seem to be coming from a reporter named ‘Bernie Bernstein,’ a name that doesn’t match the name of anyone on staff at the Post. ‘Bernstein’ claims to be paying sources enormous sums of money for information that he ‘will not be fully investigating.’ Before hanging up, he gives the email address of someone named Al Bernstein instead of his own. Oh, and he has a Jewish name, and the exact speech pattern of my Jewish grandmother, so I think it’s safe to say his name is meant to be spelled ‘(((Bernie Bernstein))).’” [The triple parentheses are the alt-right’s cute way of designating that the person is a dirty Jew.]
This whole story is bound to get even uglier as the weeks and months go by. And I promise you that I’ll enjoy every grotesque moment of it. I’ll close with a hilariously sick joke a friend posted on Facebook: “Why did Elon Musk call his Mars lander mission SpaceX? Because if he called it SpaceY he would have had to land on 14-year-old boys.”
Come on! It’s a joke!