As you may have heard, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is under fire. He has been alleged to have sexually harassed a number of women, including many of his own staff members, over a span of decades. We’re not talking about the odd dirty joke; we’re talking about groping and kissing just about any woman who was alone with him for ten minutes. This might sounds familiar.
But check this out:
Regardless of how the Bob Filner mess eventually ends—and it will end, somehow—there are questions that need to be asked and answered.
They are questions that should have been asked long ago, and should have been asked by those whose job it is to ask such questions: us.
Who are “us”?
“Us” are the San Diego news media reporters, editors, producers and writers who pretty much knew who and what Bob Filner is and has been.
Yes, I’m including myself in that group. I’ve covered Bob Filner off and on since he was elected to the San Diego Unified School District Board in 1979. From the beginning, most of us saw how arrogant Filner was and is, how abusive he could be to his own staff members, how he felt elective office entitled him to be all those things and more.
We keep seeing this over and over again. Bill Clinton’s behavior was ignored by the media until Matt Drudge dragged it out into the open. John Edwards’ scandalous and awful behavior was ignored until that National Enquirer broke the silence. Ted Kennedy was treated as the “Lion of the Senate” and Chris Dodd was praised even as they left behind trails of shaken women.
We’re not talking about extra-marital affairs; ignoring politicians’ personal lives goes back to Jefferson. What we’re talking about are men who treat women with callous disregard and disrespect, who engage in systematic predatory behavior and get away with it because they are powerful. Men who go through life with people looking the other way for decades as they engage in rotten abusive behavior. They behavior is ignored because the media always cozy up to politicians. And ignored because these particular politicians are advancing views they agree with.
How many other Bob Filners are out there? How many more women are being ignored or being told to grit their teeth for the greater glory of the party? Don’t come to me with your feminist credentials after a powerful politician’s awful behavior has been unveiled after decades. Don’t come to me when you rant about it with one party but ignore it with the other. Come to me when you’re the first to say, “We won’t tolerate it no matter who he is.”
For every media person who is out there doing hard work and exposing corruption and abuse, there are ten who are glorified stenographers. Worse than that: glorified publicists. They repeat anything the politically powerful say uncritically. They write glowing profiles of men they know are awful people. They constantly tell politicians how swell their ideas are. This phenomenon is heavily biased in favor with Democrats, of course, but Republicans are not without their own gaggles of faithful media dogwashers.
This has been going on for a long time but the last decade, in particular, has seen the perfidy of the media exposed in all its appalling glory. When are they going to learn?