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The Charges Against Weinstein And O’Reilly Need Sorting

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The Charges Against Weinstein And O’Reilly Need Sorting


Reprinted with permission from Creators.

It would take a really big jerk to steal the sexual predator headlines from Harvey Weinstein. Defrocked Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly apparently has what it takes.

It was reported over the weekend that O’Reilly reached a $32 million settlement earlier this year with former Fox News analyst Lis Wiehl. She alleged that he had forced her into a sexual relationship. That’s $32 million! Hollywood producer Weinstein’s payouts to his accusers generally fell into the more modest $80,000 to $150,000 range.

What O’Reilly may have done to merit such an extraordinarily large sum is subject to great speculation. The agreement stipulated that Wiehl renounce her allegations.

O’Reilly had already made five settlements with women. This one broke the Fox News record set by fired chairman Roger Ailes, who paid former host Gretchen Carlson $20 million.

Carlson tweeted over the weekend, “Nobody pays $32m for false allegations — nobody.” That view is seconded.

At the same time, it doesn’t make all the me-too claims floating through social media true, either. They need sorting out.

Weinstein has been accused of nearly every villainy against women, from the extremely serious, rape, to piggish sexual advances. The job of meting out justice, at this point, belongs to the legal system.

Twitter now groans with the “#MeToo” hashtag attached to stories of sexual abuse. One would like to put them to productive use, but the wild west of Twitter makes that very hard, if not impossible, to do.

Social media offer a neon stage for attention grabbing, as well as for sharing one’s experiences. And platforms offering anonymity, such as Twitter, also let creeps of all genders pollute the discourse with fabrications.

Carlson’s tweets, we know, are attached to Carlson. Twitter certifies that. Less credible are such handles as @AngryWomanInTulsa, which I just made up.

Lindy West wrote in The New York Times, “My social media feeds have been glutted for the past three days with stories of degradation, workplace harassment, rape.” Women on Twitter, she added, are “using the hashtag #MeToo to demonstrate the staggering breadth and ubiquity of sexual predation.”

The truth is we have no idea who many of these people are. Some could be prankster boys in Albania. Some could be provocateurs saying ridiculous things to make feminists look silly.

Russians evidently set up hundreds of thousands of fake Twitter accounts to destroy Hillary Clinton’s reputation with outright lies. They continue to fan the flames whenever America ignites in another controversy. Most recently, they latched on to the take-a-knee phenomenon to spread false and racially charged claims against blacks.

When talking about the mistreatment of women, it’s also important not to lump felonies with bad manners. A leer is not rape. Some sisters argue they are both manifestations of the same disease. I disagree.

I’ve been subject to crude sexist slurs. Men on the street have exposed themselves. I’ve been rubbed against in crowded conveyances, and a dirty old stranger put his hand on my 14-year-old knee. Icky and unpleasant, yes, but trauma? Rape and other physical assault are trauma.

The explosive anger over these high-profile cases has raised the stakes for sexual predators. That’s good. Meanwhile, let’s keep the process orderly and honest, to the extent possible.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.


Froma Harrop

Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers. Media Matters ranks her column 20th nationally in total readership and 14th in large newspaper concentration. Harrop has been a guest on PBS, MSNBC, Fox News and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is a frequent voice on NPR and talk radio stations in every time zone as well.

A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary in 2004 and again in 2011, Harrop was also a Scripps Howard Award finalist for commentary in 2010. She has been honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has given her five awards.

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  1. dbtheonly October 25, 2017

    Very well put.

    The point about O’Reilly “damaging” Wiehl (career?) to the value of $32m is also telling. I’m having trouble figuring out what O’Rielly could have done to her that would warrant such a settlement.

    I also strongly endorse a healthy skepticism when dealing with allegations from anonymous sources. On the other hand though, the internet is full of predators and asking anyone to put out accurate personal information is asking much.

  2. ORAXX October 25, 2017

    O’Reilly is a good Catholic though. He said so, anyway. /s

    1. FireBaron October 25, 2017

      In light of his book titles “The Killing of (fill in the blank)”, the title of his next book will be “The Killing of My Reputation”. Like all of his other “Killing” books, it will be full of ramblings with no factual basis. I am sure the lilac-haired older ladies will buy this, believing it to be fully factual, just like Dan Brown’s “histories”.

    2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 25, 2017

      If he said so, that’s good enough for me, as Groucho Marx might have said.

    3. dbtheonly October 27, 2017

      One of the disputes at the time of the Protestant Reformation was that the Roman Church was selling “indulgences”. The key being that one could “donate” and receive forgiveness for a sin one intended to commit.

      I wonder how much forgiveness of sins O’Reilly’s $32 million bought

  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 25, 2017

    “I’ve been subject to crude sexist slurs. Men on the street have exposed themselves. I’ve been rubbed against in crowded conveyances, and a dirty old stranger put his hand on my 14-year-old knee. Icky and unpleasant, yes, but trauma? Rape and other physical assault are trauma.”

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 25, 2017

    “I’ve been subject to crude sexist slurs. Men on the street have exposed themselves. I’ve been rubbed against in crowded conveyances, and a dirty old stranger put his hand on my 14-year-old knee. Icky and unpleasant, yes, but trauma? Rape and other physical assault are trauma.”

    Although Froma writes insightful articles, and while it’s true that social media without proper restraints and filtering allows for scurrilous accusations to proliferate, Froma, like a colleague of hers, makes an absurd case that to me trivializes unwanted advances.

    How could anyone–Froma or otherwise–make an irrational assumption that what she feels and how she reacts should be the same for other women?? That Froma’s ability to brush off unwanted sexual advances should come naturally to a teen-ager or child? That simple touching of a grown woman should evoke the same degree of calm in a child inappropriately touched by an adult?

    This sort of ass-backwards logic only emboldens immoral men to persist in being lascivious. Froma unwittingly sends a signal that—“Hey—maybe this chick I rub against will just be strong enough to ignore it and let it pass”.

    Men the world over have an instinct to make a move against women, for the sake of perpetuating the population, otherwise we all wouldn’t be here, unless asexuality would have evolved to make up for any lack of attraction.

    What the bigger issue is is how to alter the perception of men about women in a modern era, where our potential for moral rectitude and personal restraint have evolved to the point that we men can show the ability to interact with women on a mature level.

    Otherwise, we’re just setting ourselves up for women to be seen as fair game for further exploitation.

  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 25, 2017

    To continue my previous thought, I had an encounter with a man in a pickup truck who offered me a ride. I was about 13 years old, walking down Livingston Road in Jackson, Miss. It was an industrial area with a new sub-division which my parents had moved to. The man in the truck stopped, asked if I wanted a ride, and I got in. I was about 5’8 at the time, wiry, and thought nothing of what might happen. We drove, he started to converse, and began talking about the size of my penis and whether I had had any “fun” with the “gals on Farris Street”—a popular shopping area in the “black” part of downtown Jackson. At that point I felt very worried, and stressed about where this odd conversation would lead. Fortunately, I was close to home and asked to get out. I never forgot that incident and was extremely relieved when I got out of the truck.

    No youth, child, or grown-up should have to be subjected to that sort of experience—physically or mentally.


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