#MeToo hysteria may have met its match
Sooner or later, the fever will break when it comes to the hysteria consuming politics with unverified charges sufficient to destroy careers and feminist thought-leaders (such as they are) expressing indifference to the fate of innocent men being caught up. Already, two Democrat senators, one a member of the Judiciary Committee, have expressed regret over Al Franken being forced to promise to resign, sometime, at a date to be determined, without due process. The Senate Ethics Committee operates in secret, but a finding that no proof exists that Franken assaulted anyone could trigger a wave of support for keeping him among Senate Democrats.
Another important case, that of Tavis Smiley, could also be a trigger for the fever breaking. Although I agree with him on few matters, I think the way Smiley was handled by PBS is a disgrace. Smiley was terminated from his longtime gig at PBS, hosting a nightly talk show there, without being able to confront his accusers or even know the nature of the accusations against him. This violates every pillar of due process and is unfair on the face of it.
Smiley is not taking this lying down, and he has made it clear that he will resort to litigation if necessary to regain his plum position and his reputation. To his credit, Tucker Carlson – who went public with the fact that he was maliciously and baselessly accused of sexual harassment years ago and went through an expensive hell of legal bills before clearing his name (he was not at the time in the city where the assault allegedly took place) – had Smiley on his show as the introductory segment Monday. Here is the complete segment, 6 minutes and twenty seconds long, via Grabien. It is well worth listening to, or you can read the text blow.
At the end, Smiley raises a serious issue about the implications of banning workplace fraternization with any romantic implications:
In my employee handbook we do not encourage interoffice relationships, but we don't forbid it either, because I don't know how things are going to turn out in your life and you start hanging out with our company. I don't know who you are going to meet. Let's face it, nobody is working 40 hour weeks and more, 40, 50, 70, 80 hour weeks. What else are you going to meet people? Our business is full of people, producers and talk show host who met on the job. Millions of Americans who met their spouse at work. I don't think I have the right to tell people who to date. The problem here is that we are starting to criminalize legitimate relationships between consenting adults and that's a real problem for me. And if this does in fact end up in court, millions of taxpayer dollars are going to be spent by PBS to defend itself and I don't think the taxpayers want their money spent that way.
This is a serious issue for the sort of people who put in 50- or 60-hour work weeks, a group that includes many high-income professionals who normally vote Democrat, and especially among the younger, unattached cohort. If flirtation at the workplace becomes verboten, where are they going to find a partner in their hectic work lives?
One more thing.
In case you hadn't noticed, Smiley is black and has standing as a commentator on racial issues. So far, he has not brought up a racial dimension to the controversy over his behavior. But I suspect that if he is not reinstated, we may start to hear about cultural norms varying among certain ethnic groups. At the risk of being called a racist, I would note that verbal expressiveness among African-American males is rather more pronounced than among, say, white Episcopalians or recent immigrants from China. If not Smiley, then someone else may eventually claim that applying "white standards" of behavior to black men is raaaacist. Such a position could attract strong support from other blacks who fear that their style could become a source of threat to their livelihoods.
Here is the complete text via Grabien:
>> Tucker: Good evening and welcome to "Tucker Carlson tonight" ." He's been on TV for a long time but he had his show suspended last week by pbs after pbs says it received "Credible allegations of sexual misconduct." Smiley admits to having several relationships with his employees, but he says he's not a harasser, has never groped or coerced anyone. He also said pbs never gave him a chance to response to the anonymous allegations against him. Meanwhile on CNN this weekend, former Obama spokesperson Jen saki said that all accusations of sexual misconduct should be presumed true without exception.
>> There are false accusations out there. It does happen. Even the most liberal, most Progressive advocates for women against violence could concede the point. As an accusation enough?
>> Yes, it is enough. I completely agree that in the time we are in right now this is going to be perhaps a bloodied period. The fact is that Democrats and Democratic Party — where you have a waiver, zero tolerance, but...
>> Tucker: That's the state of play. Kevin smiley joins us tonight.
>> Is my pleasure, thank you.
>> Tucker: What specifically did pbs accuse you of doing when they enter show off the air?
>> It's hard to know. The clause in my contract that they originally suggested to me they were looking to sort of inside baseball, clause 5.1, we all have those clauses in our contract. The clause that they invoked when they pulled the plug on the show was clause 9.1 which is the call that allows him simply to simply not distribute my show anymore. They told me they suspended me under 5.1 but they said to the press it was 5.1. CBS to this moment has not specifically told me what I'm being suspended for.
>> Tucker: They issued a statement accusing you of some nonspecific sex crime in effect. You don't know what that is, you don't know who has accused of this and you don't know the substance of it?
>> I do not. CBS launched an investigation without telling me about it. I found out in the streets one former colleagues of mine started calling me they were receiving strange phone calls asking strange questions from investigator asking questions like did he ever make you uncomfortable? Are there other persons we should talk to? They started letting me know about these calls, that's how he learned of this. I contacted of course my attorneys. My attorneys reached out to pbs and these investigators and for weeks my attorneys offered for me to sit down at any time, place or point to answer whatever questions they might have. They rejected that invitation for weeks, only under the threat of lawsuit, our suing them did they agree to finally sit with me for three hours and talk with me and in a conversation I was never told what the accusations were, what the accusations were, who the accusers were. I was never allowed to provide any data or evidence to debunk anything what I could have debunked. They wouldn't allow me to present any evidence and they frankly didn't give me a due process and on top of that they have come into this moment, not talk to anyone on my current staff. Not my coo, who was in charge of hr. It's mind-boggling to me that they have sort of kind of had to play this game of pick and choose who they actually want to talk to and all the persons they have talked to our former employees. Some of them who are terminated. I've been at this 30 years. When you were in business that long to hire people and some people get fired, but they won't talk to, for whatever reason, my current staff or the person in charge of hr to ask where he simply did he ever instruct you to make any workplace decision based upon his relationship status? The answer is no but they weren't even asked those questions.
>> Tucker: Do know where the original came from?
>> I do not.
>> Tucker: You don't know how this started and you don't know who's making the accusations. You don't know what the accusations are, so what did you talk about for three hours with their lawyers?
>> A bunch of vague questions. What if, might you have ever done this, sir? It was basically a bunch of what if scenarios. No specifics, no places, no times, no data for three hours. I'm a conversationalist but it's tough to have a three hour conversation without really knowing what you're talking about.
>> Tucker: Which of the process have looked like do you think?
>> It's a very good question, I'm glad you asked. I understand in this moment why any network would be concerned about these kinds of allegations and they ought to be looked into. My complaint is the way that pbs has gone about this, not even telling me that a complaint has been lodged against me, never telling me they were starting investigation, refusing for weeks to even speak to me. Again, not talking to my current staff. Any number of things that could have been done here they just bungled this. As I said, they made a huge mistake. They have engaged in a sloppy investigation and something needs to be done to fix this.
>> Tucker: So you have said you had romantic relationships with people who worked for you.
>> Over 30 years of being in the business yes.
>> Tucker: First of all, is that a wise idea? And second, is it against the rules?
>> At worst it is misjudgment. Over the years I have learned. 30 years or so, there are things I might have done 30 years ago that I might not do now. Not because it's illegal or immoral or unethical but just because it might represent that judgment. I've written two books in my career talk about mistakes I've made and lessons I learned along the way. There are many things in my life that I've done in the past that I might not do today but it does not rise to the level of this kind of public shame, this kind of public evaluation and this kind of wrongful termination in this kind of personal destruction.
>> Tucker: What you think this is about? Why did pbs do this do you think?
>> Whenever something like this hits the media, there was always more to the story than meets the eye. I don't want to say much more than that because my attorneys are hard at work. There's a lot more behind this. I did say earlier today that it is strange when you finally get this three hour meeting, an hour and a half after that meeting ends they pull the plug on the show. Clearly when we went into that meeting pbs had already made up its mind without talking to me early on in the investigation process. Without having talked to my current staff. They had made up their mind and soul about 90 minutes after this meeting ended we got the letter that it was indefinitely suspending my program. 12 minutes after that, this exclusive story broken variety. I ask how does an exclusive story break 12 minutes after we were informed that the plug was being pulled? In that story there are quotes from an unnamed sources is overly from inside pbs, person close to the investigation, that's the phrase these. They have time to research my background, there is background material about me in the story. Leaks they placed in the story, I assume an editor looked at this before it went online. But all of that was done inside of 12 minutes. You tell me whether or not we have an agenda here.
>> Tucker: Yeah. Do you think the rule ought to be that you are not allowed to sedate your subordinates, should that be allowed?
>> I certainly understand that there are persons who believe there is no such thing as a consensual relationship in the workplace. I hear that, I respect that point of view, but there are other opinions on this. In my employee handbook we do not encourage interoffice relationships, but we don't forbid it either, because I don't know how things are going to turn out in your life and you start hanging out with our company. I don't know who you are going to meet. Let's face it, nobody is working 40 hour weeks and more, 40, 50, 70, 80 hour weeks. What else are you going to meet people? Our business is full of people, producers and talk show host who met on the job. Millions of Americans who met their spouse at work. I don't think I have the right to tell people who to date. The problem here is that we are starting to criminalize legitimate relationships between consenting adults and that's a real problem for me. And if this does in fact end up in court, millions of taxpayer dollars are going to be spent by pbs to defend itself and I don't think the taxpayers want their money spent that way.
>> Tucker: I've never agreed with you are very much, Tavis, but I have said I agree with you on a lot of what you just said and I appreciate you coming on.
>> My pleasure, thank you tucker.