NPR: Sexual Harassment Deserves Immediate and Full Coverage...Sometimes
NPR in general and their legal affairs/Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg in particular want the public to believe that they view sexual harassment charges against public figures as a very important issue that demands immediate and full coverage. The reality: they behave that way only if the accused has a Republican party identification.
The most recent evidence of that: the reporting on the charges of sexual harassment and sexual assault by San Diego’s current Democratic mayor and former 20-year U.S. Congressman Bob Filner. In the two weeks following the initial disclosure of the accusations July 11, which was followed by named accusers coming forward July 22, 23 and 24, NPR has aired a grand total of two pieces on the matter. The first occurred a full five days after the accusations first came out, on July 16 (even The New York Times reported it July 12). And both pieces were done by a public radio journalist in San Diego who doesn’t even work for NPR.
In neither piece did the reporter seek out Senator Barbara Boxer about the charges against a fellow California Democrat, given that Boxer ran for the Senate in large measure on the charge that the Senate didn’t seriously consider Anita Hill’s allegations against Clarence Thomas (and which was frequently mentioned by NPR in pieces on Boxer’s 1992 Senate bid).
Compare that with the charges of sexual harassment made against then-Republican primary presidential candidate Herman Cain. In the two weeks following the initial disclosure of the accusations on October 30, 2011, which was also followed by multiple named accusers, NPR aired FORTY pieces by multiple NPR journalists. The first occurred just 8 hours after the accusations came out—on the first available NPR news show. One black reporter insisted Cain wasn't suffering yet because he was "willing to be a minstrel" for white conservatives.
Even NPR’s liberal game show Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me! skewered Cain in three separate segments in the same two weeks (they’ve done nothing on Filner).
That wasn’t the only time that NPR chose a partisan double standard over evenhandedness. The other example involves charges against two much higher-profile public figures, both covered by the same NPR journalist.
Back in February 1994, former subordinate Paula Jones publicly accused then-President Bill Clinton of sexual harassment. Even The New York Times reported the charges the next day and ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings reported them the same day. But the erstwhile cautious Nina Totenberg passed on reporting the charges, viewing them as suspect, given connections to conservative trying to publicize them.
Totenberg and the rest of NPR sat on the story for three months, finally covering the story after a lawsuit was publicly filed by Jones. And she covered it in typical Totenberg fashion: one person sympathetic to Jones and three people sympathetic to Clinton, with her own advocacy against Jones thrown in for good measure.
Back in the late summer of 1991, a rumor was being spread by liberal special interest groups about a former subordinate of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas accusing him of sexually harassing her. Even though the Senate Judiciary Committing considering the appointment of Thomas to the Supreme Court was dominated by liberal Democrats wanting to see Thomas defeated, the Committee deemed the charges insufficient to pursue.
Incensed over the Senate’s decision (rather than skeptical of the charges due to their origins, as she was with Paula Jones), Totenbeg once again took it upon herself to wage a crusade against a Republican nominee (the others being Chief Justice nominee William Rehnquist, Associate Justice nominee William Ginsburg, and Vice Presidential nominee Dan Quayle [not a typo!]). She repeatedly begged Thomas accuser Anita Hill to come forward. So her involvement actually came before the accusations were first publicly made known—by Totenberg herself, along with another journalist.
One must conclude that taxpayer-subsidized NPR sees charges of sexual harassment (or worse) as simply a very powerful tool to inflict maximum damage on their political opponents.