Children’s Hour for the Democrats

After playwright Lillian Hellman was blacklisted as a Communist-sympathizer, she later looked back and wrote: “My belief in liberalism was mostly gone.”

In its place, she substituted something she called “decency.”

She recalled in her memoir, “Scoundrel Time,” how life changed for her after she was ostracized. People stopped calling. Of those who still called, some were worried about being seen with her. Hellman had to sell her farm. For the immediate future she would be banned from writing movies.

Hellman would know how Garrison Keillor and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) must feel now.

“It’s astonishing that fifty years of hard work can be trashed in a morning by an accusation,” Keillor wrote in a Facebook post after he was fired by Minnesota Public Radio. “I always believed in hard work and now it feels sort of meaningless. Only a friend can hurt you this badly. I think I have to leave the country in order to walk around in public and not feel accusing glances.”

Keillor co-created and hosted “A Prairie Home Companion,” one of the most popular public radio shows. His unforgivable sin was touching a woman’s bare back. An anonymous woman has been allowed to destroy his career. I’d like to know who this precious, expensive piece of tail is. That’s not sarcasm; that’s how this woman has cast herself. She had her attorney call Keillor, so it appears she might be willing to put a price tag on herself.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune noted that Keillor “seemed more hurt, resigned and defensive than apologetic.” Perhaps he has done nothing to apologize for.

Franken did apologize but to no avail. He was forced to resign, shoved out of the U.S. Senate by his colleagues – primarily a group of female Democrats who demanded his resignation, proving that women politicians can grandstand like men.

Of this group of Democratic female senators, the one I am most familiar with is Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) since I used to live in Washington state.  Whenever I see or hear her name, I think “Mom in tennis shoes.” That’s how Murray first drew national attention to herself – with a fashion statement.

Franken’s career-ending sins are a joke considering the context in which most of them were committed: Back when he was a comedian and performing on stage, he kissed and touched women without a formal invitation. He also appeared in a photo pretending to grab the well-covered breasts of a woman who had a history of being photographed topless.

Gail Collins of The New York Times tried to put a positive spin on the senator’s downfall: “Franken was a good politician, and many Democrats hoped he might grow into a presidential candidate. But it was his destiny to serve history in a different way. He was caught up in a rebellion of epic proportion, one that was not just about unwanted groping but a whole new stage in the movement of women into the center of public life.”

Collins is trying to justify a wrong.

In Hellman’s 1934 play, “The Children’s Hour,” two women who run an all-girls boarding school are ruined and lose everything when a malicious student spreads rumors they are lesbian, which was then taboo. It was based on a true court case in Great Britain, and Hellman initially said she wanted to explore the damage that deception can do.

She revived the play two decades later after she was targeted in the anti-Communist purges led by the Sen. Joseph McCarthy. “The Children’s Hour” resonated even more because people were being ruined by lies and political paranoia. It was a time when Americans were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and asked to name names of anyone they suspected of being Communist.

McCarthy had his blacklists. Now we’re chasing names for the sexual harassment whitelist. The media are anxiously waiting to see who the Harvey Weinstein of Wall Street will be. There are probably several who qualify.

Like all frenzies, mistakes will be made.

Do women never lie or exaggerate? Do they never connive? Do they never flirt with a man they don’t really like in hopes of getting some kind of advantage? Why do some of us want to believe that women cannot be as deceptive and calculating as men? Why do we act as protective towards women as we do towards children?

If it’s to make up for all the times women and children were not listened to in the past, creating new inequities now isn’t going to balance the scales.

The hunt for sexual harassers reached a point of absurdity during the takedown of John Hockenberry, former host of WNYC’s radio show, “The Takeaway,” broadcast on many NPR stations.

Hockenberry’s contract wasn’t renewed this past summer, and he was initially given a nice send-off with fans wishing him luck in whatever his next adventure would be. Knocked off his powerful perch as an NPR icon, women he had offended over the years started circling.

Earlier this month Suki Kim, who had written a book about North Korea and appeared as a guest on “The Takeaway” three years ago, wrote an essay for New York Magazine detailing how Hockenberry made her feel violated – although he never touched her.

The nature of these violations? A year after she had appeared on his show, he requested two other meetings to “brainstorm,” where he gushed about her work. That was the sum total of their personal encounters.

But Hockenberry made her feel uncomfortable when he started pursuing her via e-mail with unwanted invitations: “Any interest in a museum and coffee? … Maybe we could try for something outside in the park maybe the Met or something … Let’s do a date… .”

It bothered Kim that Hockenberry was allowed to retire “honorably,” so she set about interviewing women who had worked with him to see if they’d had problems with him. Oh, yes. He kissed a producer to thank her, and he “bullied” three co-hosts who were black women. He even yelled at one of them.

I never liked Hockenberry’s show. His smarmy liberalism infected his work. A classic example: The Oct. 24, 2016 show where Hockenberry announced, “Whites are the bad guys. How do we stop being the bad guy?”

Even so, he didn’t deserve the week-long pile-on where “The Takeaway” allowed the accusers in Kim’s essay to make charges against Hockenberry without being cross-examined with good questions. How, for example, does a man in a wheelchair paralyzed from the chest down (as Hockenberry is), grope and kiss a woman into helplessness? What exactly is bullying? How is telling a black woman not to be the diversity hire bullying? Sounds like good career advice. How is telling a woman to lose weight harassment or bullying – especially in our weight-obsessed culture?

Hockenberry’s co-hosts were all journalists. Aren’t journalists supposed to be tough? Yet they complained that Hockenberry ran them off. He quashed their dreams. Listening to these women tell their stories on air last week it sounded as if they didn’t know that many people – including white men – have their dreams quashed.

The American workplace is a competitive environment that isn’t always conducive to hand-holding, especially if you’re working in a newsroom on deadline.

Let the ladies enjoy their turn in the sun. They’ve got their Time cover story as “Persons of the Year” for breaking a silence they could have broken years ago had they been braver and not needed a lynch mob for backup. They’ll bag a few more big names. There’s money to be made with new apps like AllVoices, created by a female tech executive, which will allow employees to anonymously report harassment or discrimination.

They might want to keep the lesson of Hockenberry in mind: One year he’s blaming white guys for everything that’s gone wrong, and the next year he’s one of those white guys.

In the immediate present, this year’s holiday parties are probably more tepid affairs. A friend told me of a party she went to recently where many guests were political and business leaders, and the usual hugs of greeting were missing. Who wants to take a chance in this climate?

In the past week I have said to various women I know, ranging in age from 37 to 95 years old, “Imagine going through life and NEVER receiving an unwanted touch or kiss.”

Their reactions have all been pretty much the same: Long, blank stares. The 95-year-old, though, offered that her gardener earlier that day might have sexually harassed her when she was out in the yard, walking with two canes.

“He put his arms around me,” she said.

“Maybe he thought you were falling,” her daughter suggested.

Sex – it’s still good for a laugh.

– Pamela Fitzsimmons


“The Last Days of America”

“Garrison Keillor’s History Project”

“NPR’s Racial Profiling”


  • Salem reader wrote:

    How come you didn’t mention Oregon’s very own Sara Gelser? Nice lady but not Jeff Kruse’s type. She’s too clean.

    I clicked on the link to New York magazine article. Did you see some of the stories there? How to Give a Rim Job, How to Be a Sex Symbol. This is what you’re probably talking about in your earlier article. The raunchiness we’ve got now.

  • Those stories appeared, I believe, in New York Magazine’s online version in a section called The Cut. New York Magazine was once home to “New Journalists” like Tom Wolfe, whose writing last century about race, drugs and hippies still resonates. Maybe today’s new journalists are writing about rim jobs — a natural evolution from drugs and hippies.

  • I’ve been thinking about the concept of “today’s hero, tomorrow’s villain” quite a bit lately. I, for one, welcome the imminent downfall of some powerful woman based on some perceived harassment of a disabled transgendered lesbian of color. Men, and specifically white men, have indeed done some shitty things throughout the ages. It’ll be curious to see what the Millennials do when they realize that all people are capable of and have actually done shitty things to each other since there have been shitty things to do and others to do them to.

  • It’s been like that forever — people (of all colors) doing awful things to one another. Whom did they blame before there was a United States? And all these terrible men — who raised them?

    If we do see the downfall of a powerful woman, she will likely blame her failure on previous sexual abuse or domestic violence that she has suffered. No proof or verification required.

    Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about Generation Z. They’re the next new thing for marketers and the media to focus on. Maybe feeling pressure from a younger generation coming up behind them will be a dose of reality for the Millennials. I know many hard-working Millennials, but it seems like the ones who get the most attention are the self-absorbed, hot house orchids.

  • Hey,Friend wrote:

    Alright, Pam, I’m one of the women you asked the question to. The reason I gave you a long, blank look was I was surprised you would ask such a question. I didn’t think you could mean it. Alright I understand now why you meant it and it’s complicated. Girls and women spend too much time trying to look good for men, other women, coworkers, strangers. I wish it wasn’t so. Your right, none of us want to go through life ignored. A compliment or pass from a stranger or someone you can’t stand is still a compliment or a pass. I’ve got male friends, an ex-husband that I care about, a brother, a father. I don’t want any of them falsely accused of inappropriate behavior, whatever the fuck that means. I’ve thought about if an unwanted touch is better than being ignored. It depends on whois doing the touching. I’m 44 and the ignoring is starting. I was at store this week, and the guy behind the Info counter wanted to help the little 20-something waiting behind me. I got the brush off. You asked a complicated question. Sorry I couldn’t give a better answer.

    I was a Hockenberry fan and disappointed at how he turned out. Don’t you find it suspicious he had problems with all of his female cohosts? I believe the women.

  • It doesn’t look good that Hockenberry had problems with all three of his black co-hosts. It could also be that he had a big ego and didn’t want to share. He apparently got along with his replacement, Todd Zwillig, but Zwillig didn’t seem cast as Hockenberry’s equal. Until Hockenberry left, Zillig was more like a reporter and fill-in host.

    Only Hockenberry knows what he really thought of his black co-hosts. He wouldn’t be the first journalist to mouth platitudes in favor of affirmative action for other businesses, other companies, other people. But not for himself.

    As you say, the issue is complicated. Recognition of that is what’s missing in the media’s massive coverage. There is little consideration of biology and how it relates to why men tend to behave the way they do, and why women tend to behave the way they do. Politics cannot change biology, but laws and peer pressure can change behavior. The social justice set and their political allies are loathe to punish or shame those who have committed serious felonies, yet they are ready to turn sexual harassment into a capital crime.

  • The women had problems with Red Barber, too.

    What to say but make a long story short – bang/whimper.

    pass the popcorn

    I’m waiting for the Scott Simon shoe to drop now that they’ve got the appalling Smiley – you go girls, level that playing field!

    The allure and sanctimony of bottomless self-pity has been terrifically effective as a progressive selling method. Is there anything it can’t destroy or grind into the ground?

    Hell, the women’s movement (and sundry progressive efforts) has got ’em killing Jews in Sweden.

    In corporate America, government bureaucratic America, and in educational institution America I’ve sat through such floods of hypocrisy and self-feeding/righteous hate I KNOW it will not stop until everything is made a misery.

  • Mild-mannered, super-sensitive Scott Simon? I could see him harassing a female colleague who didn’t sufficiently toe the political line.

    Here’s a different perspective that hasn’t been receiving much attention in the media’s coverage of sexual harassment. Agree or not with Shanita Hubbard, it’s a strong piece of writing.

  • Although different in type from the sex hunts now in session, the book Policing Ferguson, Policing America by Thomas Jackson catches the spirit of justice and concern for justice at play in our society.

    Really good book. Catches the spirit of contemporary America. I just hope the left concludes its war on free speech as effectively as it has its fight for racial, sexual, gender etc. justice. It will make living so much simpler and clearer.

  • For this reader the author undermines herself and injures the power of the piece.

    “Intersectionality” is a newly popularized license for legitimizing hate and grievance. And, it flows only one way:against white males.

    Likewise the depiction of police contact with these males. Christ, she’s just described the males of her people acting like beasts to the most vulnerable in her community. Make an honest assessment of how those same males behave towards outsiders or a community they’ve been taught to hate since infancy.

    An honest insight and important truth is buried in that essay, but it has a bodyguard of ugly convenience.

    It’s one thing when a supreme white enlightenment overlord like Cokie Roberts says that everyone knows you don’t get into an elevator alone with John Conyers (ask a little about Monica), but that the “Impeach 45” chanter and Frederica Wilson should make such an observation?

    5 cops assassinated in Dallas and the NFL wont mark their murders. Mike Brown and Trayvon get full Colinization.

    The black people I daily work with and those who are their public champions seem to be quite different – but I cannot of course believe that, I must not. Sister, clean your own house.

  • I had forgotten how much fun the New York Daily News could be.

    It’s not surprising someone is going after Meryl Streep. She’s too white and too successful. They probably would have gone after Julia Roberts except she groveled early and practically apologized for not having been sexually assaulted.

    Show business by its nature is phony. It’s built on make-believe. The phoniest thing about show business, though, is how so many major stars embrace the liberal status quo and don’t venture any further. Every star — unless he or she is truly unique — has to know there are thousands of equally talented men and women who didn’t make the cut. Somebody has to be cast to play loser. It’s the nature of a competitive business with limited opportunities. There isn’t equity, no matter how much movie stars contribute to charity, or how many Democrats they endorse.

  • I recall back when I watched the Academy Awards that Streep popped tall to lead a standing O for Polanski: A man who drugged and anally raped a 13 year old girl. The entertainment community has no moral legitimacy. I knew about Weinstein’s bullying and sexual criminality years ago and I’m a hick from the sticks.

    By the way the Monica that I referred to above was Monica Conyers.

    God bless Charlie LeDuff:

    My earlier remark reflects a way of thinking forced upon me by progressives. I used to think of myself as an American and part of a common culture.

    Now, I think of myself as a Euro-American male whose rights are under continual assault: due process for me-it depends; confront my accuser – it depends; informed of the allegations against me- it depends. I could go on.

    I’ve lost two critical jobs in the last 25 years because of false sexual harassment allegations. The first time I was just out of graduate school (time of Anita Hill hearings) and I took the offense like Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. This accusation could not stand up in the light of day. I went to the police, to lawyers, to a congressman, to administrators. Two years later I left town broke, my relationship shattered, deeply in debt, and nearly insane with frustration. It took an additional 4 years to put it behind me.

    22 years later I gained a career making job in high tech. The gay woman I was working with and whom I depended upon for leadership and guidance made allegations that were so false that they would be impossible to accept in a rational world.

    When that job went I walked without complaint and didn’t look back. Nor did I forgive.

    I no longer work with women unless compelled to and then only for the briefest of periods. I will not work with a woman without more than one employee present. Moreover, an adversarial outlook completely alien to my nature is now part of my life, as is a peculiar professional remorselessness.

    Oddly, this circumscribed world is a pleasant one. Largely because of the wisdom of my wife and spiritual consolation afforded by my faith.

    I once listened to an interview with Hockenberry about his autobio. He had some pretty acidic comments and assessments of a former co-worker who could have been no one else but Scott Simon.

  • The celebrity who stood out for me in the defense of Polanski was Whoopi Goldberg who said what the famous director did wasn’t a “rape” rape.

    Streep’s performance in “The Post” is getting Oscar talk, so this could be a way of shutting down her chance for another Academy Award. If so, the media can chalk it up as another victory for disgruntled Hillary voters (even though Streep supported her).

    What happened to you sounds so unfair but believable. It also explains why the Mike Pence rule is likely to spread. The media love to make fun of Pence for saying he won’t have lunch or dinner alone with any woman who isn’t his wife. Despite the media’s snickering over the Pence rule, it has nothing to do with Christian beliefs. It has to do with destruction by innuendo.

    I’ve read that Ta-Nehisi Coates is equally skittish about being alone with certain females. I can see why.

    In all the talk about unequal justice between blacks and whites, one group that receives a pass in the court of public opinion is attractive, white females. People just don’t want to believe that good-looking young women can be treacherous. Part of it is probably because all the major evils are committed by males. On a personal and singular basis, though, women can wield their own power.

  • A caveat: although it is a political blog that agrees with many of my views, I’m offering link to it.

    Although loath to do so, I think the discussion allowed by Ed Driscoll beneath the heading:


    Opens up the discussion in a necessary way. However, I also realize because it is personal and partisan the link to the blog may be inappropriate at this site:

    Again, if I am in error providing this link I apologize.

  • No apology needed. You’re not dealing with the weenies at Willamette Week.

  • odds/ends

    YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING: Why Should We Hire Women?

    When James Damore was asked for feedback from his supervisor and internally circulated his google memo, it got leaked, he got fired and women stayed at home the next Day because “for emotional reasons”
    A ten page summary of data and analysis from Damore was enough to “emotional distress” the women at the company.

    I’m not arguing here about the validity of the memo — we can talk about that on a separate occasion — my point here is that a ten-page document with written words that suggested possible gender differences cost multiple sick days!

    Feminists used to mock Victorian ideas about the fragility of women. Now they embody them.

  • Gloria Allread and David Brock do New Year’s Eve at the WaPo:

  • The photo accompanying that story is revealing. Why does Allred’s client, Summer Zervos, need to wear a low-cut blouse?

    After Brock’s huge flip-flop on the Clintons, I don’t think he should be considered an asset to any campaign.

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