Nearly two weeks ago, ESPN President John Skipper shocked the media world by suddenly resigning from his position at the “Worldwide Leader.”
At the time, Skipper said he needed to resign to deal with substance abuse issues.
In a statement, Skipper said:
I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.
I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that Bob (Iger) displayed here and always.
I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.
As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.
To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN’s success.
This explanation seemed rather suspicious. Since Skipper had just signed a major contract extension the month before his resignation.
At the time, Breitbart Sports noted:
The timing of Skipper’s resignation seems a bit of a mystery. Skipper had just signed a multi-year contract extension in November. How does one develop a long-term substance problem in a month? Perhaps ESPN just became aware of Skipper’s issue in the last month, though, that too would seem unlikely. Moreover, it’s likely that ESPN would at least attempt to offer some kind of counseling as opposed to compelling Skipper to resign, if they just found out about Skipper’s issue after signing him to a brand new deal.
Could there be something another, bigger story behind this announcement?
Well, Clay Travis of Fox Sports Radio and Outkick the Coverage reports that there is something bigger indeed, behind Skipper’s resignation. Travis reports that in the days following Skipper’s announcement, several reports came to him offering a much different explanation for Skipper’s immediate departure.
“In the next couple of days I was told by multiple sources I trust inside ESPN that the reason for Skipper’s “resignation” was because of sexual harassment issues inside the company. In the wake of the Boston Globe story about sexual harassment I was told Skipper’s own issues suddenly emerged and that was why the resignation happened so abruptly.
And ESPN decided to blame substance abuse issues instead.”
Travis also poked a hole in Skipper/ESPN’s “substance abuse” claim by tweeting photos from a tipster, which appear to show Skipper and ESPN radio host Dan LeBatard at a bar in North Carolina:
A trip out to have a couple of drinks with your friend would all be perfectly normal and a total non-story except for the fact that Skipper just resigned from ESPN 11 days ago citing his struggles with substance addiction and his desire to get help for that addiction.
Now maybe Skipper wasn’t addicted to alcohol — and it was some other drug instead — but if you have such an issue with substance addiction that you need to immediately resign from ESPN should you really be out drinking 11 days later with one of the most prominent employees at your former company? And if you’re Skipper’s good friend, Dan LeBatard, would you let your friend go out drinking with you if you knew he had a true issue with substance abuse and you were crying about it on your radio show 11 days ago?
That seems highly unlikely.
That does indeed seem unlikely. ESPN wouldn’t be unique among major media and entertainment organizations, for forcing out high-profile executives or performers over sexual harassment charges. After all, the last few months have seen dozens of actors, journalists, comedians, politicians, and others, face removal for some form of sexual misconduct.
So why lie about it? If in fact, ESPN is lying about the reasons for Skipper’s resignation?
The answer may be found higher up the food chain. Disney CEO Bob Iger is a rumored2020 Democrat presidential candidate. Considering how crucial the female vote is, especially in a Democratic primary, one would think that Iger would move aggressively to quash any potentially damaging sexual harassment scandal at one of his larger networks.
Would Iger engage in that type of politically-calculated micromanagement?
Well, he’s done it before.
In the weeks after Jemele Hill called President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter, Iger personally intervened to prevent Hill’s suspension. Now, why would Iger do that?
Could it be because of Iger’s concern that the optics of suspending Hill, who is black, for criticizing President Trump; could be interpreted as Iger siding with Trump against a black female employee? Which would leave his Democrat primary opponents with a strong and heavy argument that he’s not the right candidate to protect black people from the “cruel and racist” Republicans?
That seems like an extremely plausible theory.
And if that seems like a plausible theory, is it so far-fetched that Iger would concoct a story about substance abuse to conceal a high-profile sexual harassment scandal, which may or may not extend far beyond John Skipper?
Doesn’t seem like that big of a stretch at all, does it?
The Justice Department’s inspector general said the department suffered from “systemic” problems regarding sexual harassment complaints over the last five years, according to a Washington Post report that peculiarly failed to mention former President Barack Obama or Attorney Generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.
The DOJ requires “high level action” to solve the issue, which includes mishandling or ignoring complaints of sexual misconduct, according to the IG’s report. Over the last five years, the number of sexual misconduct allegations has increased and includes “senior Justice Department officials across the country,” according to WaPo.
Despite the issue increasing in severity during Obama’s second term, Washington Post reporter Sari Horwitz declined to mention senior administration officials, even though the “most troubling allegations” according to the IG, happened under their watch.
One woman, who was allegedly the victim of repeated groping and “sexually charged comments” became so distressed by her harasser that she “was terrified I was going to get in the elevator and he would be in there.”
On top of complete negligence in the handling of the complaint, the DOJ allowed “potential criminal assault violations,” according to the IG report. Despite these serious allegations, the IG’s office “found no evidence in the case file that a referral was made to the [Inspector General] or any other law enforcement entity.”
Theodore Atkinson, who worked in the DOJ as an attorney in the Office of Immigration Litigation under Holder according to his LinkedIn, admitted to stalking a female coworker, hacking into her personal email account and constructing a “fictitious online profile to entice her,” the IG wrote. For his behavior, Atkinson simply received a “written reprimand and reduction in title,” with no suspension or pay cut.
Atkinson was, however, recently given a “Special Commendation Award from the Civil Division.”
The WaPo investigation describes a number of other incidents that were reported but ultimately ended with no serious reprimands, including one sexual harassment case brought against a female top prosecutor in Oregon.
“Sexual harassment and misconduct is one of the very important areas we have to focus on and take seriously because of all the reasons the public is seeing now,” the IG said. “People’s attitudes have to change. Our interest is shining light on this kind of activity.”
Superficially, Lynch appeared to make gender and sexual harassment issues a top priority. In 2015, Lynch announced $2.7 million in grants to “strengthen the Justice System’s Response to Sexual Assault,” a DOJ press release stated at the time.
“The Department of Justice is committed to doing everything it can to help prevent, investigate and prosecute these horrendous crimes – including working to ensure that our greatest partners in this effort, the state and local law enforcement officers on whom we all rely, have the tools, training and resources they need to fairly and effectively address allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence,” Lynch said.
That same year, Lynch’s department issued new guidelines “to help law enforcement agencies prevent gender bias in their response to sexual assault and domestic violence, highlighting the need for clear policies, robust training and responsive accountability systems,” a press release reads.
Time’s Person of the Year: ‘Silence Breakers’ speaking out against sexual harassment
Time magazine named “The Silence Breakers” — women who triggered a #MeToo national outcry over sexual harassment — as the 2017 “Person of the Year.”
The magazine said President Trump was runner-up for the top title, while Chinese President Xi Jinping was third on the list.
Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal revealed the cover on Wednesday morning’s Today show, which features Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler and a woman whose face is obscured, intended to represent the women who haven’t yet come forward.
“This is the fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women, and some men, who came forward to tell their own stories of sexual harassment and assault,” Felsenthal said. “The image you see partially on the cover is of a woman we talked to, a hospital worker in the middle of the country who shared her story with us and some others but doesn’t feel like she can come forward without threatening her livelihood.”
The Today show, which recently experienced its own harassment scandal that ousted former anchor Matt Lauer, also hosted actress Alyssa Milano and #MeToo creator Tarana Burke to talk about the cover, both of whom have spoken out about their own experiences with sexual misconduct
“This is the just the start, and I’ve been saying from the beginning that it’s not just a moment, it’s a movement,” Burke said.
Harvey Weinstein, whose scandal jump-started 2017’s months of reckoning over sexual harassment, looms large over the Time list, with Judd, one of the more than 80 women who have accused him of assault and sexual harassment, featured in the story. Also included is Selma Blair, who accused director James Toback of misconduct, with Swift speaking out against Denver radio DJ David Mueller whom she prevailed over in court this summer.
“When the jury found in my favor, the man who sexually assaulted me was court-ordered to give me a symbolic $1,” Swift told Time in an emailed interview, “To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself.”
Time’s list cuts across the entertainment, media, tech and service industries, including an unnamed housekeeper at the Plaza hotel.
It was the 91st year that the magazine has recognized the person or group of people who most influenced the news during the past year.
The shortlist included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the Dreamers, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who launched a national protest against racism and police brutality, special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Trump caused a stir in the run-up to the selection when he tweeted last month that he turned down a potential offer to be the “person of the Year” after he was told only that he would “probably” be given the title.
“Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named “Man (Person) of the Year” like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot,” Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
The magazine disputed the account, saying that the president is “incorrect about how we choose Person of the year.”
“Time does not comment on our choice until publication,” a spokeswoman told CNN.
Another Democrat has been revealed to have used the controversial Congressional “slush fund” in 2006 to cover up sexual harassment allegations — Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York.
What were the accusations?
Meeks was not himself accused of sexual harassment, but a former staffer said that she was harassed by him and his office after she reported sexual harassment by an employee of a donor to the congressman, according to the Daily Caller.
Andrea Payne, then a congressional aide, sued after she was fired for filing a complaint at the Office of Compliance, the agency at the center of the sex predator slush fund controversy.
“This is an action to recover for damages sustained by plaintiff when Rep. Meeks violated her constitutional rights by retaliating against her, and ultimately terminating her employment, because of her sexual assault lawsuit,” said Payne’s attorneys in her subsequent lawsuit.
Payne had filed a lawsuit against a physical therapy clinic where she says an employee had sexually harassed her. The owner of the business was a donor of Meeks and angrily confronted him about the lawsuit, according to the Daily Caller.
Who else benefited from the harassment slush fund?
Democrats Rep. John Conyers (Mich.) and former Rep. Eric Massa (N.Y.) used the same agency to secretly settle accusations of sexual harassment, while Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold (Tex.) also benefited from the office’s services, all at taxpayers’ expense.
Here’s Rep. Meeks discussing John Conyers’ sexual harassment allegations
Meeks discussed the allegations of sexual harassment against Conyers in a segment on MSNBC that has taken on new meaning with the current revelations.
“The two highest forms of claims of discrimination are race and sex/gender, which is reflective of a systemic problem in America we have to address,” Meeks said at the time.
Conyers Hospitalized for Stress-Related Illness Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations
Family spokesman blames the ‘media assault’
Democratic Rep. John Conyers (Mich.) has been hospitalized for a stress-related illness amid a sex scandal that has led some of his congressional colleagues to call for his resignation.
Family spokesman Sam Riddle confirmed on Thursday morning that Conyers, 88, is seeking treatment at a Detroit-area hospital, CBS Detroit reports.
“Monica Conyers, Mrs. Conyers, is by his side and we just ask, really the nation, to pray for this congressman that has done so much for the nation,” said Riddle, who did not elaborate on what Conyers is suffering from beyond stress.
Riddle, who also serves as Conyers’ political consultant, blamed the hospitalization on the “media assault” stemming from the sexual harassment allegations against the congressman.
“The congressman’s health is not what it should be and a lot of that is directly attributable to this media assault,” Riddle told WDIV-TV, adding that “the reality is these serial accusers have done this before, we’re used to it.”
Riddle went on to blame the media for giving Conyers’ accusers “too much credibility” and too big of a platform.
“These serial accusers are being given way too much credibility because (hashtag) #metoo is trending. The congressman’s contributions to the nation go far beyond any hashtags that are trending right now,” he said. “We’ve dealt with these serial accusers before. Their names are not new to the congressman or his family.”
The family spokesman added that Conyers is “resting comfortably in an area hospital, he’s doing okay, as well as can be expected for a gentleman that is approaching 90 years of age.”
News of Conyers’ hospitalization came the same morning that one of his former staffers, Marion Brown, appeared on NBC’s “Today” alleging the Michigan Democrat subjected her to years of sexual harassment. She said that Conyers propositioned her for sex multiple times over more than a decade and that she only stayed in her position because she needed to support her family.
Multiple former female staffers in Conyers’ office have accused the lawmaker of sexually harassing them. BuzzFeed News first reported last week that Conyers settle a sexual harassment claim with one woman, who turned out to be Brown, for $27,000 in 2015. At least three other former staffers then came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Conyers, claiming that the congressman engaged in inappropriate behavior while they worked for him.
Conyers, who stepped down as the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee amid the accusations, confirmed the 2015 settlement but has denied all allegations of sexual harassment.
The House Ethics Committee is currently investigating the sexual harassment claims against Conyers.
While most Democrats in Congress have avoided calling on Conyers to resign, saying that the Ethics Committee must finish its investigation, a growing number of lawmakers are putting pressure on the Michigan Democrat to step down.