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Saturday, December 09, 2017
Opinion: SEXUAL Harassment in Congress, a tally - by David Leonhart
Three members of Congress have resigned over sexual harassment this week. And it sure seems as if one political party is taking the problem more seriously than the other. Here is a rundown of every known case involving Congress and the administration:
Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat. Accused by multiple women of groping and by two of unwanted kissing. Status: Is resigning from the Senate, under pressure from other Democrats.
John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat. Used $27,000 in public money to settle a complaint by a former employee who says she was fired because she rebuffed sexual advances, and accused by at least five other women of inappropriate behavior. Status: Has resigned from the House, under pressure from party leaders, who initially supported him before reversing themselves.
Ruben Kihuen, Nevada Democrat. Allegedly harassed and touched the former finance director of his 2016 campaign, which led her to quit her job. Status: Remains a member of the House, although Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, has called on him to resign.
Trent Franks, Arizona Republican. Allegedly asked two female staffers to be a surrogate to bear his child. Status: Announced that he will resign from the House in January, reportedly under pressure from Paul Ryan, the speaker.
Blake Farenthold, Texas Republican. Used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim from his former communications director, who alleges she was fired after raising concerns. Status: Remains a member of the House, and under investigation by the Ethics Committee. Ryan has not called on Farenthold to resign.
Roy Moore, Alabama Republican. Accused by multiple women, with corroborating evidence, of dating teenage girls while an adult and accused by two — one then 14 years old, one 16 — of sexual assault. Status: Supported by the Republican National Committee in his Senate campaign and endorsed by the president.
Donald Trump, New York Republican. Accused by multiple women, with corroborating evidence, of unwanted kissing or touching, and bragged on tape of grabbing women’s genitals. Status: President of the United States.
Trump-friendly media. Shortly after Franken’s resignation speech, Breitbart ran this banner headline on its website: “St. Franken Martyr: Sacrificed to Attack Trump, Moore.” Just below, it continued: “Senator Admits *No* Wrongdoing, Says He’s ‘Champion of Women’ — But Will Resign Anyway (…in ‘Weeks’).”
Related: “For perhaps in the first time in history, bad-behaving men face swift consequences and women’s testimonies are instinctively believed.” That’s Jessica Bennett of The Times in a new email newsletter on the “#MeToo moment.” You can sign up here.
The federal government’s big annual report on crime includes 70 percent fewer data tables than in the past, Malone and Asher pointed out. Among the data not published by the F.B.I. this year: statistics on gang violence (an obsession of President Trump’s); homicides by an intimate partner; and arrests by race at the state and local levels.
The administration claimed it had merely “streamlined” its report by eliminating data that had not received much attention. But I’m skeptical, given the political sensitivity of the topics it chose to eliminate.
After repeating some of the explanations the F.B.I. gave Malone and Asher, Wray said the bureau had “recently made a decision internally to go ahead and republish the information with the tables. It’s going to take a few weeks for that to happen, however.”
I hope Jayapal and others make sure Wray sticks to this timeline. “From local governments trying to figure out where they stand compared with others, to academics and research organizations trying to analyze data in new ways, fewer data hinders efforts to elevate the debate around justice issues,” writes Nancy La Vigne, a criminologist at the Urban Institute, in a blog post.
Elsewhere. I’ve written before that I found the media’s coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign to be problematic. A new article in the Columbia Journalism Review takes on the subject, criticizing the mainstream media, and The Times in particular, for focusing on scandal at the expense of policy. The article — by Duncan Watts and David Rothschild — is based on an analysis of articles in major publications, like The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and The Times, as well as a separate analysis of The Times alone.
All of us in the media should grapple with their criticisms.