On Tuesday’s MSNBC Live with Katy Tur, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson was brought on to talk about the significance of the #MeToo movement and its role in fostering the current climate of seemingly ubiquitous allegations of sexual misconduct allegations against a slew of prominent politicians and media figures. In spite of weeks of equivocation and doubts being expressed about accusations against Democratic Senator Al Franken by a wide variety of MSNBC hosts and guests, including Tur herself, Carlson and Tur pretended to be righteous feminist crusaders for the right of all women to be believed and defended, regardless of the party or political affiliation of the accuser or accused.
The following exchanges best captured the self-righteous character of the segment [both times EST]:
GRETCHEN CARLSON: But, what we have to understand in this wave and watershed moment that we’re seeing right now with sexual harassment, Katy, is that sexual harassment is apolitical. How many times do I have to say that? You cannot pick and choose who you want to believe based on what political party you are in.
KATY TUR: People do that all the time.
CARLSON: They do it all the time, and we need to come together and stop this.
TUR: Do Republicans have a, an obligation to come out and take a stand to defend Senator Gillibrand as just another human being?
CARLSON: I think men and women alike, whether or not you're a Democrat, independent, or Republican, need to defend women when they're put in these kinds of sexist situations. I mean, listen, I know that for my kids, this is why I'm doing what I'm doing. And I'm doing it for anyone who is watching today, their kids, do we want them to face the same indignities? No. And so we have to stand up for any woman, no matter what political party she’s in, and say: Enough is enough. It’s gotta stop. You can't continue to only pick and choose who you wanna believe in this divisive nature of a country that we live in right now.
TUR: Well put.
On November 20th, just after the first sexual assault allegations had come out against Franken, Tur hosted a ridiculous segment on her show with lawyer Rebecca Weir trying to downplay the seriousness of the claims of his accusers. Tur and her guest portrayed Franken as a fundamentally good person because of his support for feminist-friendly legislation and questioned the notion that the senator should be punished for his past behavior. Moreover, Tur made a point of highlighting a statement signed by female former Franken staffers defending the senator as a “champion for women” and Weir used her platform to broadly paint all men and boys as potential sexual predators.
So when Tur referred to people picking and choosing who they want to believe based on what political party they are in “all the time,” she was clearly speaking from her own experience.
Of course, Tur is not the only one at MSNBC who does not follow Carlson’s advice to just “listen and believe.” Morning Joe has been a repeat offender when it comes to doubting or disparaging the accounts of Franken accusers.
On November 21st, the Morning Joe hosts took a similar tack to Tur’s show just the day before in wondering whether or not the allegations against Franken were serious enough to warrant punishment, but they also promoted a New York Times op-ed that denied that sexual assault is a crime in an apparent attempt to further diminish the Franken allegations as not worthy of consideration.
More recently, on December 8th, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski and her fellow liberal pundits repeatedly questioned whether or not the Franken allegations were true, wondering “if it happened” and whether “all women need to be believed.” Co-host Joe Scarborough, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, and New York Times writer Bari Weiss all piled on at various points and implied that the Franken accusations could be false in a manner similar to the Rolling Stone UVA or Duke lacrosse team rape allegations.
Other MSNBC journalists have also had similar troubles believing Franken accusers. On November 16th, the first major day of covering the Franken sexual misconduct story, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt went on MSNBC and uncritically parroted Franken’s initial defense against the photographic evidence of him grabbing a sleeping woman’s breasts by characterizing the incident as an example of “mock-groping.”
Does everyone watching MSNBC have amnesia?