The front of Thursday’s New York Times anticipated today’s resignation by Democratic Senator Al Franken (Minn.), over sexual harassment allegations, by working hard to make it a bipartisan scandal, and even allow the Democratic Party to claim the high ground, despite the fact that the two most prominent sitting congressmen under fire for harassment are Democrats (the other being veteran Michigan Rep. John Conyers). And no mention of Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy.
Reporters Yamiche Alcindor and Nicholas Fandos reported under a headline that made sure to give congressional Democrats full points for being tough on themselves “A Democratic Chorus: ‘Franken Should Resign.’” The text box also praised the Democrats: “A party that appears intent to hold the high ground”:
Support for Al Franken all but collapsed on Wednesday among his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, with dozens calling for him to resign after a sixth woman said he had made an improper advance on her.
Accusations against Mr. Franken include an episode of forcible kissing on a U.S.O. tour before he was elected and several allegations that he groped women as he posed with them for photographs.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, also called on Wednesday for Mr. Franken to leave the Senate.
The Times is moving quickly to make this a Republican scandal, to the point of throwing in a scandalous anecdote involving Rep. Joe Barton (Tex.) that, while not flattering, has nothing to do with sexual harassment and leaves question who the actual perpetrator is, Barton or his “constituent”:
But by and large, Republicans have seemed more tolerant of infractions in their own ranks. House leaders have said nothing since it was revealed Friday that Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas used $84,000 from a secret taxpayer fund to settle a lurid sexual harassment case filed against him. And Republicans are deeply divided over Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate, Roy S. Moore, who has been accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls as young as 14, yet has maintained the support of President Trump and other conservatives.
Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the state’s senior Republican, announced last month that he would not seek re-election next year after graphic images that he sent to a constituent appeared on the internet. But he received little pressure to step down.
Barton, who represents a district in Texas, sent a naked picture of himself to a woman he was involved with while separated from his wife, and its release to the public on Twitter may be characterized as “revenge porn,” outlawed in Texas in 2015. “Constituent” is an odd way to characterize the relationship, as if Barton was simply sending lewd photos to names on his district mailing list.
The Times painted the Democrats as just too hard on themselves:
Some have said Democrats are simply too quick to destroy their own, but the party appears intent on holding the high ground as sexual harassment scandals rock politics, entertainment and the news media.
The previous day, reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg offered a take on poll results painting Republicans as more tolerant of sex harassment, in “As Sex Accusations Climb, a Question: Who Stays and Who Goes?”
Polls have shown that Democrats are far more critical of sexual harassment within their own ranks than Republicans are of harassment within theirs. Only 40 percent of Republicans who participated in a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll thought sexual harassment was a very or somewhat serious problem within their party, while 60 percent of Democrats said it was a problem among themselves.
This is the same party that celebrated President Bill Clinton and Sen. Ted Kennedy, so perhaps this newfound revulsion is at least partially a politically convenient stance?