Editor’s Note: to say that this hasn’t exactly been my greatest week (or even month) would be something of a mild understatement and as such, I’d like to apologize for how long it took to bring this Brief Thought to you and assure readers who’ve seen me wigging out on social media that I am not quitting my work on this website – in fact, I’m back with you today to talk about Rachel Maddow, the (none too soon) late Roger Ailes and why the moral bankruptcy of modern liberalism leads to long term defeats in politics, as you’ll see below.
Frankly, having my internet knocked out for a night isn’t the only reason I feel significantly behind here in May 2017 – while the simple truth is that while the increased word count of this month’s essays was always naturally going to slightly reduce the overall number of pieces I could produce in May, I didn’t count on writer’s block and multi-day arguments about the Trump presidency on Twitter impacting my productivity quite as much as they have. I found myself caught between frustration and fear; which is never a good work space to be in when you’re an independent content creator.
Finally, I would like to sincerely thank everyone who made a donation pledge to my Patreon account this past week; I honestly can’t thank you enough or fully express how much of a difference a few dollars made in my overall outlook as I sat down to write this piece but please know that it did indeed make a difference.
Sincerely, thank you.
Note: Please be reminded that if you’re having trouble reading this info graphic, you can right click on the picture and select “view this image” to pop out a larger version. Additionally, don’t forget to check out my comments after the sources section of this article.
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to break down the facts about sexual assault and sexual harassment towards women in the United States because to understand why Rachel’s betrayal on behalf of a monstrous little toadstool like Roger Ailes is so heartbreaking, it is necessary to understand roughly how many women Maddow just threw under the proverbial bus. According to a recent survey, one in three women between the ages of 18-34 has been sexually harassed at work and only twenty-nine percent of those who experienced workplace harassment reported it. The situation becomes even more dire when you examine data from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which reveals that less than half of the allegations of sexual harassment that make it to the EEOC result in charges and only twenty-five percent of claims in 2015 could be deemed to have a positive result for the accuser. The statistics on sexual assault and rape aren’t much better; one in six American women has been the victim of rape (attempted or completed) in her lifetime and while that may not seem relevant at first, that’s only because the US media is focusing on the issue of sexual harassment exclusively to avoid admitting what it is that Roger Ailes actually did to the women he victimized for decades.
Look, we can debate until we’re blue in the face about the legal discrepancy between rape and coercing women who work for you to provide sexual favors by threatening their careers, but this website has never been a welcome home to pretty lies of convenience. If Ailes convinced even one woman over the course of his near fifty year reign of terror that she had no choice but to sleep with him against her will or risk losing everything she’d worked for, that’s rape and the ability of meteoric stars like Meagan Kelly to still rise inside the company despite reportedly rebuking Roger’s repugnant advances on multiple occasions doesn’t change that in the slightest. Furthermore, in light of Ailes repeated, wholly repugnant and demonstrably persistent record of open sexual harassment at literally every single media company he worked for, the difference is frankly pretty fucking academic – Roger Ailes was an abusive sexual predator who destroyed the lives of dozens of women and I’m sure Rachel Maddow is fully aware of precisely how fucking fine a margin one has to walk to describe Ailes as anything other than a rapist.
There will also be some readers who object to singling out Maddow for her effusive praise of the monstrous former news chief and that is perhaps in some ways a fair point; after all, guys like Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews also couldn’t stop blubbering about the profound impact Ailes had on their industry and don’t even get me started on the ridiculously myopic cretins over at Fox News. It is however precisely because of Maddow’s role as the leading star on the nation’s most unabashedly liberal (for all that means, both good and bad) news network, not to mention the fact that she is an ardent feminist and an openly LBGT women working in a (heterosexual) male-dominated industry, that victims of sexual violence and harassment have every right to expect Rachel’s sympathies to lie with them and not Roger Ailes; a known perpetrator of the very kinds of acts that have harmed them so grievously!
Harassment and sexual violence against women are not unavoidable facts of life and the two problems *are* related; these twin scourges are the result of learned behaviors propagated and reinforced by a near-infinite number of societal signals each and every one of us are exposed to every single day of our lives. To understand how the minimization and normalization of harassment and sexual violence against women overwhelmingly serves to protect abusers and continue the cycle of abuse, one needs only to look at allegations now streaming out of Ailes old stomping grounds at Fox News where the abuses of Ailes undoubtedly enabled the abuses of fellow disgraced media icon Bill O’Reilly and may have even enabled the alleged abuses of current Fox star Sean Hannity. Combating these problems (whether in the cable news industry or elsewhere) is a function of education, awareness and refusing to excuse or normalize harassment and sexual violence towards women; a fact that is almost certainly not lost on Maddow in light of her work reporting on these very same subjects at MSNBC.
Please be reminded that I’m not even talking about the fact that Maddow just publicly eulogized the man who may be most responsible for spreading fear and hatred in America through the nightly news or the ongoing and geopolitically terrifying clusterfuck of conspiracy theories and oversold “evidence” that is Rachel’s “Russiagate” reporting; I’m merely pointing out the message her decision sends to literally millions of women watching her show – the devastating message that calling out sexual harassment and sexual assault aren’t as important or valuable as learning trade secrets at the foot of an abusive prick like Roger Ailes.
All of which naturally brings us to the larger political problems presented when liberal media icons on the scale of Rachel Maddow fail to demonstrate the courage of their convictions in such a painfully public way. Whether Maddow likes it or not and indeed, whether she agrees or not; Rachel’s role as the lead attraction on the number one mainstream liberal news network and arguably the most watched liberal pundit in the nation, makes her part of the public face of the Democratic Party. Women, even harassed and abused women are allowed to vote too and when Maddow so thoughtlessly tosses them under the bus to join the deafening chorus of media personalities praising a deceased sexual predator like Ailes, she embodies the ongoing hypocrisy problem that continues to dog Democrats and even American liberalism itself. Whether we’re talking about getting a fair shake for victims of the 2008 Financial Crisis, dropping tens of thousands of bombs on some of the poorest countries in the world after aggressively campaigning against George Bush’s War on Terror or even failing to hold the line on abortion rights; time and time again elite liberals in the US have demonstrated a willingness to sell out marginalized and victimized people whenever it suits them and often for extremely shortsighted reasons.
While it’s certainly true that the major reason the Democratic Party lost the presidency in 2016 is that Hillary Clinton was an objectively terrible fucking candidate who ran an objectively terrible fucking campaign, it is also unarguably true that Clinton isn’t responsible for losing hundreds of state legislature seats and almost a dozen Governor’s mansions since controlling Congress, the Senate and the White House in 2009. Liberalism (and by extension, the Democratic Party) has an increasingly obvious hypocrisy problem and voters are clearly starting to notice. Liberals in the US no longer believe in, or stand for anything and those looking to combat the debilitating wave of voter apathy that continues to hamstring the Democratic Party would be wise to start taking this problem very seriously. Say what you will about the “extreme” left and even the noxious, reactionary right in America but neither group lacks the courage of their convictions; even if those convictions are openly repugnant in the case of the latter.
Simply put; it’s easier to believe in something, even something hateful than it is get excited about a shifting, undefined ideology forever moving to the right and in favor of elite capitalists under the logic that all you really have to do is be less odious than the other guy; you would think losing an election to an incompetent, authoritarian reality TV show host whose catch phrase is “you’re fired” would have made this clear to mainstream liberals by now.
- Nina Illingworth
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