Bite my ass, Mika.
Yesterday, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced his pending resignation after a seventh woman has come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment and dozens of Senate Democrats have called on him to step down. His announcement was that classic mix of “I don’t remember it that way” and “I’m sorry if anyone was offended” and “but Donald Trump and Roy Moore, though” that, delivered properly, almost sounds contrite if you don’t listen to it too closely.
This morning, on Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski stood up for Franken by identifying his first accuser, Leeann Tweeden, as a Playboy model and a Republican, and asking if maybe “I believe women” doesn’t have to apply to all women. Y’know, like women who are accusing a man you like.
We’ve never really talked about the woman who first came out against Al Franken, whose picture that you say, Susan, is just the death knell. I would think a dress owned by Monica Lewinski would bring down a president, but it didn’t, so I’m surprised that you think a comedian’s picture of a performer — Playboy model who goes on Hannity, who voted Trump — You know, I see some politics there, but I haven’t brought that up every step of the way because of course in this #MeToo environment, you must always just believe the women. And I think that there’s a lot of reasons why we need to look at the women seriously and believe them, and in many cases — like, for example, I spoke to accusers in Mark Halperin, which he admits a lot of what he’s accused of doing. I spoke to them, I believe them. I’m just wondering if all women need to be believed. And I’m concerned that we are being the judge, the jury, and the cops here, and so did Senate Democrats, getting ahead of their skis, and trust me, Kirsten Gillibrand, I want you to run for president, but you gotta keep it real.
In my opinion — just my opinion — I feel like we’ve got a machine gun now, and we’re just going around the room with every man that perhaps we don’t like politically. I don’t know.
(“I’m worried for women,” she said. “I’m concerned about women who are legitimately sexually harassed in the workplace across America, and where this is taking us.” Aw, thanks, Mik. You’re a gem.)
Bite. My. Ass.
This shit — this precise shit — is why women don’t come forward. Leigh Corfman, Roy Moore’s first accuser, said that she didn’t come forward in the past 40 years because “there is no one here that doesn’t know that [she’s] not an angel.” That a woman has posed nude for magazines makes her no less credible as a victim of sexual assault. In fact, women in that kind of industry are frequently the target of abuse because the abuser knows the woman’s accusations could just be hand-waved — Who’s going to believe you, honey?
But you have to suspect that the “voted for Trump” part was just as offensive to Brzezinski as the “Playboy model” part, because she sees “some politics there,” which is code for “Tweeden opposes Franken politically and thus her only possible motivation can be to smear a good man.”
“I believe women” doesn’t mean automatically rolling out the guillotine for every man who’s accused of sexual assault. But it does mean taking women seriously and listening to their allegations instead of just immediately looking for a reason to discredit them. A reason like their history as a nude model, for instance. Or the fact that their politics disagree with yours. It’s easy to say, “It’s a conspiracy, and she’s just trying to take down a good man, and she’s probably getting paid for it, too” — so easy that Roy Moore’s apologists are saying it in Alabama right this second. But nude models can be assaulted. Republicans can be assaulted. And even if — even if, and I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case — Leeann Tweeden really was being paid by Roger Stone the whole time, that doesn’t negate the possibility that Al Franken really did force his tongue down her throat as she protested. “I believe women” means that we have to take her accusations seriously.
“I’m just wondering if all women need to be believed.” Yes, Mika. Even the ones you don’t like.
Brzezinski’s problem isn’t that people are going around the room taking down “every man that perhaps we don’t like politically.” Her problem is that they’ve taken down a man that she does like politically, and she’s happy to throw a woman under the bus — a woman who comes with plausible accusations and photographic evidence — if it means defending her guy. That is gross and wrong and insulting to all of the women currently being dragged through the mud for speaking out against powerful, abusive men. She owes those women an apology. And it damned well better be better than Franken’s.