Friday, February 28, 2020

Journalism


The Hill reports

MSNBC host Chris Matthews came under fire this week from some progressives for pressing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on why she believed a woman who had accused former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg of pressuring her to have an abortion while she was an employee for his company.

"MSNBC needs to fire Chris Matthews. Today," Shaunna Thomas, president of the women's advocacy group UltraViolet, said in a statement. "Matthews' refusal to believe women, and history of sexual harassment, make it clear that he is not fit to continue to cover this election. MSNBC can and must do better, and they can start by firing Chris Matthews."

After the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, Matthews asked Warren during an interview why she believed the accuser and not Bloomberg. Warren had brought up the accusation during the debate.

"You believe he is lying?" Matthews asked, referring to Bloomberg.

Warren reiterated that she believed the woman, with Matthews then asking why Bloomberg would lie.

"Just to protect himself?" Matthews asked.

"Yeah, and why would she lie?" Warren responded.

In a lawsuit filed against Bloomberg, a female employee alleged that he told her to "kill it" after he found out she was pregnant. The language was interpreted by the employee as ordering her to have an abortion in order to keep her job, The Washington Post reported.

Bloomberg has repeatedly denied making the remark.

Lauren Duca, a journalist and activist with more than 400,000 Twitter followers, called Matthews's questioning of Warren "insane."

Chris Matthews is not insane. Slate's Heather Schwedel recommends he "shut up," even as she inadvertently explains why it is unnecessary, as Warren

answered his incredulity with reason, frankness, and an elegant allusion to how the issue intersects with her own story: “Well, a pregnant employee sure said that he did. Why shouldn’t I believe her? You know, I’m just really tired of this world, this one is personal for me. It really is.” She displayed irritation without crossing over into anger that would surely give her critics reason to dismiss her, at least in their minds: “We have gone on and on and on where people say, ‘Oh, I can’t really believe the woman.’ Really? Why not?” She was composed—“And why would she lie? That’s the question, Chris”— and she didn’t back down. She answered Matthews plainly: “I believe the woman. Which means [Bloomberg]’s not telling the truth.”

It's called journalism. The Massachusetts senator made a serious charge when she maintained during the debate in South Carolina "At least I didn't have a boss who said to me, 'Kill it,' the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees."

Warren herself recognized that the employee's accusation was an allegation, unproven and ultimately a "she said, he said issue.  In drilling down on the matter, Matthews was committing an act of journalism, challenging the candidate to explain why she believed the female employee. 

And, of course, there was the inevitable demand that the offender be fired:
Along with the unlikely possibility the employee is lying, she may have distorted what was stated, remembered the incident inaccurately, or omitted important context. But that is how it has become with cancel culture, in which reactions overtake the search for truth.

Not to worry. Elizabeth has this. She understands candidates have their jobs, journalists have theirs, and if there were only sweetness and light between the two, the public would be the loser.



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