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The Absurd Misogyny Of It All


Erin Gloria Ryan has an excellent piece about how in Trumpland a man’s denials of charges that he abused women are always dispositive:

And yet, it’s the first line of defense for a White House that can’t seem to stop aligning itself with men credibly accused of sexual misconduct, predatory behavior, and misogynist bullying. When you’re a man in Trump’s orbit, a denial counts as exoneration.

Today, White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned after a pair of stories alleged that he had a history of domestic abuse. The first story ran last night, after two ex-wives came forward to The Daily Mail. Porter’s first wife Colbie Holderness told the British tabloid that Porter “was verbally, emotionally and physically abusive and that is why I left.” Porter’s second wife Jennifer Willhoughby gave the Mail a similar story. Willhoughby filed a temporary protective order against Porter in 2010, when he refused to leave their apartment and punched through a glass door.

Porter told the Mail that the allegations were “slanderous and simply false.”

And, at least publicly, that appeared good enough for the White House. Chief of Staff John Kelly called Porter “a man of true integrity and honor.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Porter was “someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character.


If Porter were a one-off, his would be a sad footnote in a flailing administration. But the Trump political machine has been plagued with accusations of sexual misconduct, bullying, and misogyny since long before Trump was elected.

Campaign manager-cum-professional sycophant Corey Lewandowski was seen on video yanking then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields’ arm. Lewandowski claimed he “never touched” Fields and Trump stuck with Lewandowski even amid his easy-to-debunk denials. (Pro-Trump singer Joy Villa would later accuse Lewandowski of slapping her on the butt. No word from Trump on that.)

Former Trump campaign chair Steve Bannon was accused of domestic violence by an ex wife back in the mid-1990’s. He denied it and ran the campaign to its successful conclusion.

On Saturday, January 20, casino mogul Steve Wynn cohosted a fundraiser for his good friend Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, alongside Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the RNC. Less than a week later, the Wall Street Journal ran a bombshell of a story detailing decades of alleged sexual abuse, including a $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist who says Wynn pressured her into sex. Wynn resigned as CEO of the publicly-traded Wynn Resorts today, saying the “negative publicity” made it impossible to do his job. He still denies the allegations, saying that his ex-wife Elaine Wynn somehow engineered the story in a dispute over the business.

Donald Trump has not yet disavowed Wynn. The RNC said today that it will not donate the hundreds of thousands Wynn gave to the party in the last decade. Instead, they’ll wait for the results of an investigation from the Wynn Resorts board to determine his guilt or innocence. (An investigation already happened. The famously liberal rag Wall Street Journal did it. It found that Steve Wynn is essentially the Harvey Weinstein of Vegas.)

Which brings us to Trump. The President has been accused of sexual misconduct and abuse by 19 women. He denies he did any of that, and his denial has been all the proof the White House thinks any of us should need.

Looking at the big picture, it’s hard to ignore the pattern that’s emerged. Porter, Moore, Bannon, Wynn, Trump, Lewandowski– at every turn, the Trump campaign or White House has taken a man’s denial over a woman’s word, even if that woman’s word is backed by reputable news reporting, video footage or contemporaneous pictures.

Everyone speaking on behalf of or in defense of Trumpland abusers is being poisoned by the absurd misogyny of it all. It’s never he-said-she-said; it’s he-said, she-said-they-said, and team Trump has always given more weight to the former than the latter.

To add to the bad faith, Republicans and their media lickspittles spent a week demanding that Hillary Clinton return much smaller donations from a sexual predator who was far less involved in Democratic politics than Wynn was in Republican politics. Speaking of Republican media lickspittles:

Next you’ll tell me that Cillizza is no longer interested in email server management!

If you look at Hatch’s statement defending Porter, you’ll note that he doesn’t even use the dodge of asserting some unspecified process Porter was due before his ex-wives were allowed to talk to reporters, or argue that people should wait until the facts were in. He just outright calls the women liars based on absolutely nothing. And this isn’t some obscure House backbencher; this is the Senate president pro tempore, third in the presidential line of succession. It really is Trump’s party.

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