On Thursday, funnyman and/or likely sexual deviant Al Franken resigned his Senate seat in one of the most pusillanimous speeches I’ve ever heard. If you missed it, here’s a summation: “Women’s voices deserve to be heard. Except for the ones that are accusing me, since they’re all liars. But I’m quitting anyway. I also really respect women.”
Franken took no responsibility for anything he had been accused of, but was more than willing to call the president a misogynistic rapist: “I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office,” Franken said. Classy.
So, of course, reporters at Thursday’s news conference at the White House were eager to discover the real issue about sexual harassment. No, not about the president’s thoughts about Franken’s alleged abuse of eight separate women. They wanted to know how badly Trump treats White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
During the proceedings, a reporter asked a thinly-couched question that basically insinuated the president’s reputation with women meant that Sanders was being mistreated on the White House.
“So my question to you, then, more broadly, is on this moment that we find ourselves in, frankly, of a national reckoning when it comes to sexual harassment,” NBC’s Hallie Jackson said.
“And so in, again, a broad 30,000-foot way, does the president believe that he has a credible role in leading this conversation? And can you speak to the specific steps this White House has taken to make sure the women who work here feel like they are in a comfortable environment to talk about these things?”
“I mean, I think that the president treats — certainly, as a woman myself, I’ve never felt anything but treated with the highest level of respect and been empowered to do my job,” Sanders told Jackson.
“And I think that’s what I’ve seen the president do, day in and day out, since we’ve been here and during the campaign. And so I think that’s a pretty good start and a pretty good example on that front.”
But Jackson wasn’t finished.
“A lot of workplaces are having sessions, they’re having seminars,” she said.
“Are you guys doing that here? Are you talking about, in recent days, what people in this work environment can do? Are you taking –“
“There are certainly White House policies that we are reminded of,” Sanders said. “And I think all of us expect each person to live up and to meet those policies, and to not cross a line that is not only not legal but not appropriate or not ethical.”
Nobody focused on much of what Sanders said at the press conference, but I think that both of her answers were worth reporting everywhere.
The first, of course, is that the president treats her and other women in the White House with the respect. Indeed, one gets the idea that Sanders would be out of there if he didn’t — and Trump probably wouldn’t want to deal with the press secretary’s father on that one.
The second part, however, I think deserves more examination. Jackson believes the answer to the kind of problem we’re seeing with individuals like Al Franken is “sessions” and “seminars.”
Without a proper moral code, these mean nothing. Creeps will sit through them and scoff. The majority of men who wouldn’t engage in this kind of behavior will gain nothing. Instead, Sanders pointed out what every workplace should have: “policies that we are reminded of” and a culture where employers “expect each person to live up and to meet those policies, and to not cross a line that is not only not legal but not appropriate or not ethical.”
No seminar in the world can teach morality. You set boundaries, and if someone crosses it, they go. They can redeem themselves — and we’ve seen individuals redeem themselves — but it won’t be through a seminar.
That’s something you should be hearing in the media right now. Sadly, you won’t be, because it doesn’t fit the media’s narrative. They love painting Trump as a woman-hater — even as the official mouthpiece of the administration, a woman, vouches for how he treats the distaff gender.
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