Since a number of women have gone public with charges that Donald Trump groped or forceably kissed them in past encounters, there has been a pattern of the broadcast networks being more likely to use the words "sexual assault" in referring to Trump's behavior, while using more toned down or vague wording to describe accusations against former President Bill Clinton of behavior that is at least as severe. This double standard has especially recurred several times over the past week on ABC's World News Tonight.
Between them, ABC correspondents Tom Llamas and David Wright have used forms of the words "sexual assault" or "assault" five times across three shows since last Thursday. But, on all five occasions when similar accusations against Clinton were referenced, Llamas avoided the word "assault," using words like "sex scandals," "sexual misconduct," and "accusers."
On Thursday, October 13, referring to charges against Trump, Wright recounted: "Tonight, a growing list of women are accusing Donald Trump of inappropriate conduct, including sexual assault. ... Today, the New York Times published the stories of two women. One of them -- Jessica Leeds -- says Trump assaulted her more than 30 years ago on an airplane."
A bit later, in a different piece, Llamas recalled: "Today in Florida, Donald Trump lashing out at the women accusing him of sexual assault."
After Wright and Llamas on the same show had just pronounced the words "sexual assault" or "assault" three times, Llamas soon described accusations against Clinton as "sex scandals," and vaguely referred to the former President's "accusers." Llamas: "And Trump's team now preparing an all-out assault on Bill Clinton over his own sex scandals. Campaign CEO Steve Bannon reportedly said, quote, 'We're going to turn him into Bill Cosby.' This after the campaign invited three of his accusers to the debate."
On Tuesday, October, 18, in the same report, Llamas recalled "alleged assault" accusations against Trump, but moments later as he concluded, vaguely referred to "accusers" of Clinton. Llamas: "But today, People magazine published testimonials from five friends and colleagues who say she confided in them shortly after the alleged assault. ... David, more psychological warfare, and this is truly incredible. Donald Trump at the last debate had invited President Bill Clinton's accusers."
And on Wednesday, October 19, also in the same piece, Llamas used words like "sexual misconduct" and "accuser" in referring to Clinton, but used the words "sexually assaulted" while discussing Trump. Referring to former Arkansas reporter Leslie Millwee, Llamas vaguely called her "yet another Bill Clinton accuser" without even using her name or recalling any details of her accusations. Llamas:
At the Clinton campaign's request, they won't even cross paths. This after Donald Trump lured reporters into a room hours before the last debate to find him surrounded by women who've accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct. ... And Trump will also have to answer accusations he sexually assaulted and harassed women. ... We've just learned of two more special guests by the Trump campaign. In the audience behind me tonight, Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor, and yet another Bill Clinton accuser.