New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg continued on Tuesday’s Hardball to dig herself a hole when it comes to being inconsistent on sexual misconduct claims, bewailing to host Chris Matthews that “Republicans will certainly milk the Al Franken thing” while touting leftists as true moral arbiters purging alleged miscreants from their ranks.
Goldberg wrote a column for Tuesday in which she backtracked from a previous post that had called for the Minnesota Democratic Senator’s resignation due to Franken’s politics and that his alleged misdeeds were less graphic than those made against, say, Alabama Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore.
Matthews expressed admiration for her column and Goldberg responded by noting correctly that each case must be evaluated separately, but then threw that away by all but discarding Franken because, as the media often do, the Republicans will overreach.
“Because although I don't think there is any moral equivalency between Al Franken and Roy Moore, Republicans will certainly milk the Al Franken thing for all its worth and use that as an excuse to let Moore into the Senate and to excuse the fact that their alleged sexual predator of a President is now out there basically endorsing him,” Goldberg complained.
Later, Goldberg doubled down and stepped up the crazy by arguing that it’s been “difficult” for Democrats “to reckon with” allegations of sexual misconduct both on their side and more generally. Why? Well, it’s the right’s fault:
I think part of the problem here is that because there is so much bad faith on the right and such sort of bottomless depravity among Trump and his circle, that it makes it difficult to reckon with these things properly among Democrats, which is where most of this is going on, right?
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The bizarre logic continued by arguing that “[m]ost of these kind of purges are happening in left-leaning industries, in part because that's where people in power are responsive to this torrent of revelations” while “Republicans just hear about it and shrug their shoulders and do nothing.” Talk about painting people with a broad brush, seeing as how Moore’s been condemned and isolated (besides Alabama Republicans and the President).
Nonetheless, Goldberg fretted that, due to those meddling Republicans, “you don't have the same sort of energy of people being exposed and held to account” in which Democrats have properly “turn[ed] themselves inside out while Republicans are skating blithely forward.”
Matthews wasn’t about to be left out as he told Reuters correspondent Ginger Gibson that the left “would gave cashiered” Barack Obama “in about two weeks” if he had been caught on the Access Hollywood tape uttering irreparable things instead of Donald Trump. It would behoove anyone on the left who thinks that to just look at how they behaved during the Clinton administration as quite the opposite happened.
Speaking of Gibson, she thankfully provided a heavy dose of sanity amidst the political tribalism. She astutely noted that you can’t force voters to choose a certain candidate no matter their record but “[w]e can just give them all of the details and I think as journalists, it's important that we don't allow ourselves to start writing” sexual misconduct claims “off as just another case.”
Gibson later added:
There are, and we have to sort of treat them equally. I think we also need to be aware that we're writing about industries that we have close exposure to, people that we work, people that we encounter and see on a daily basis. We're not writing about industries that don't get this kind of exposure. We're not writing about the chain fast food manager who's harassing his employees or the guy running a retail shop who's using his power to influence the women working for them and we also need to make sure that when we're discerning in this way, we're looking at those, too. That we're making sure that while the manager of the fast food restaurant might not warrant a story in The New York Times, his employees warrant the same amount of respect that other women do and it's important, I think, that we remember that, as well.
Here’s the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on November 21:
November 21, 2017
7:21 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Michelle, I've been reading you in a couple of your columns recently, and I've seen a lot of unusual, in these circumstances, true discernment. I think discernment is a term that shouldn't be just for religious thinking, but secular thinking about people's behavior, bad and good, discerning one from another, looking for the unique, looking for what's different, and what's the same and trying to find at some point, it seems to me, a standard we can enforce across the political aisle. Your thoughts? I think you already have them. Pretty clear.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG: Well, I don't know if we have found a standard that we can enforce across the political aisle and that's part of what's so difficult about this moment, right? I mean, part of me wants to say that the Democrats should be the party of no groping whatsoever and, you know, that this should be a place to draw the line. And at the same time, there's something so utterly perverse about the idea that Al Franken would be forced out of the Senate while Roy Moore is brought into it. I mean, the alleged misdeeds are so different in scale that I actually think that rather than having a hard-and-fast rule, as much as I might like one, we're going to have to learn how to discern and, you know, and judge these things individually, even though it means this is a difficult case for Democrats to make, right? Because although I don't think there is any moral equivalency between Al Franken and Roy Moore, Republicans will certainly milk the Al Franken thing for all its worth and use that as an excuse to let Moore into the Senate and to excuse the fact that their alleged sexual predator of a President is now out there basically endorsing him.
MATTHEWS: Well, let's look at the current situation, Michelle, first, then Ginger because this is real life. The President is talk about Franken. He's talking about Al Franken in the same regard that the conversation was all around Roy Moore. Is that fair, Michelle?
GOLDBERG: I mean part of —
MATTHEWS: Are they in any way equal? I don't see the equality.
GOLDBERG: — no. Of course they're not equal and I think part of the problem here is that because there is so much bad faith on the right and such sort of bottomless depravity among Trump and his circle, that it makes it difficult to reckon with these things properly among Democrats, which is where most of this is going on, right? Most of these kind of purges are happening in left-leaning industries, in part because that's where people in power are responsive to this torrent of revelations, you know? Republicans just hear about it and shrug their shoulders and do nothing. So, you don't have the same sort of energy of people being exposed and held to account. One result of that is that you have this hugely disproportionate standard, where Democrats and democratic institutions are sort of turning themselves inside out while Republicans are skating blithely forward. It’s very complicated.
MATTHEWS: I'm so with you. I'm so with you, Michelle.
GOLDBERG: It's complicated, because on the one hand, we also don't want to lower our standards and say that the standard is, as long as you're not a child molester, than we're okay.
MATTHEWS: Ginger, can you imagine if Barack Obama had been taped saying what he — what Trump said on the Access Hollywood tape, about women's private parts and how he could grab them at will, because he's a celebrity? I think he would have been cashiered in about two weeks.
GIBSON: There's no doubt that almost no one else but Donald Trump could have survived that and I think that one of the things we have to remember is that electoral politics might be the worst universe to have this discussion in.