Thinking About Pence and O’Reilly

 

Last week, we spent six or seven days gawping at Vice President Mike Pence and his wife for their supposedly bizarre or retro marriage rules. Pence, as even villagers in Bora Bora doubtless know by now, does not attend one-on-one dinners with women not his wife, and does not drink alcohol in social settings when Karen is not with him.

Progressives were by turns confused and disgusted. They assumed that this conveyed a primitive view of relations between men and women. Does he imagine that all women are sirens, some wondered, prone to turn an innocent dinner into an opportunity for sexual adventure? What a caveman view! Or was he so vain as think himself an Adonis whom women would be unable to resist? Besides, this private rule between spouses represents a setback for women in the workplace. Don’t most deals take place over dinner? Wouldn’t women be the losers if all men had such rules?

Conservatives had a bracing time with rebuttal. Mike Pence’s lieutenant governor was a woman! Avoiding “occasions of sin” isn’t primitive; it’s actually kind of elevated. Each couple may draw the line in a different place, but drawing lines around marriage is a very healthy, not a weird impulse. In typically pithy fashion, Jonah Goldberg noted that “Elites say we have no right to judge adultery, but we have every right to judge couples who take steps to avoid it.”

My own take on the Pence brouhaha is that feminists who demand respect for women should never disdain the honor that good men show their wives by their constancy. Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice.

So last week was an enjoyable culture war moment. It felt almost like 2012 again, when progressives were sneering about Mitt Romney’s five sons as somehow “creepy,” and we on the right marveled at what a corrupt view of the world you must entertain to come to that conclusion. Surely of all the things to dislike about Romney, the very last item on the list ought to have been his wholesome family.

This week is another cultural battle, but the troops are not as motivated because the lines are not as clear. We are the ones who uphold gentlemanly standards of behavior, right? So if a TV star many conservatives enjoy watching turns out to be a serial sexual harasser, that would violate our norms, yes?

Bill O’Reilly has settled no fewer than five lawsuits alleging gross misbehavior toward women. The payouts have totaled $13 million ($10 million paid by O’Reilly, $3 million by Fox). Those kinds of settlements are not what you pay to make nuisance claims go away.

Of course it’s possible that some of the (many) women who have complained or filed suits against O’Reilly are disappointed aspirants to TV stardom themselves. But surely not all. One was his producer. And yes, many of the hosts on Fox News are impeccably upright. No suits have been filed citing Bret Baier or Brit Hume.

But there’s an awful lot of smoke here. Megyn Kelly said it happened to her. Andrea Tantaros has also sued Fox, and there are credible reports of more. Fox News under Roger Ailes produced some great journalism and some low-rent behavior – especially for a network that a) pitched itself to conservatives, and b) took so many swipes at Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner.

Gretchen Carlson was one of many women who’ve alleged harassment, but apparently the only one who recorded a private encounter with Ailes on her cellphone. She walked away with $20 million. That seems a bit steep to me, but you have to admire her moxie.

Julie Roginsky has filed a separate suit against Roger Ailes and Fox News alleging that Ailes pressured her for sex and then retaliated against her by withdrawing a contract offer when she rebuffed him. A telling detail, for those on all sides of the Pence imbroglio – Ailes allegedly intimated that he was interested in a sexual encounter with Roginsky by, among other things, saying that she ought to have sex with “older, married, conservative men,” and that “if it wouldn’t get us both into so much trouble” he would take her “out for a drink.” He suggested a private drink instead.

Wendy Walsh says she did have dinner with Bill O’Reilly to discuss becoming a paid contributor to his show. When she declined, after the meal, to go up to his room, the offer was allegedly withdrawn.

Wouldn’t everyone be better off following Mike Pence’s rules?

There are 36 comments.

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  1. BD1 Member
    BD1
    @

    O’Reilly should go.  If Trump is replaced as the nominee in 2020, it should be largely because of his behavior with women, not because he is not sufficiently conservative (a charge which is nonsense).

    • #1
  2. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Mona Charen: So if a TV star many conservatives enjoy watching turns out to be a serial sexual harasser, that would violate our norms, yes?

    Yes this would violate our norms.

    The only defense is complete innocence. If he is guilty he needs to go.

    • #2
  3. B. Hugh Mann Inactive
    B. Hugh Mann
    @BHughMann

    Love the message here.

    • #3
  4. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    BD1 (View Comment):
    O’Reilly should go. If Trump is replaced as the nominee in 2020, it should be largely because of his behavior with women, not because he is not sufficiently conservative (a charge which is nonsense).

    Oh, Trump should be replaced because of his behavior with women?  Like hiring them back when not many companies did, and paying them as well or better than their male peers?  NYTimes tried, and failed, to find a single female employee to trash him .   Oh an what about having the support of 2 ex-wives AND their adult children?

    No, wait–I guess it must be because he talks like every other normal American guy?

    • #4
  5. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    There are numerous reasons for settling a lawsuit.  Those who use the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” line of attack seem to have trouble acknowledging that it’s really a “I have no facts” line of attack.

    • #5
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Maybe Fox ought to assign a chaperone to watch Bill O’Reilly.  Put a shock collar on him and give him a zap when he starts getting too frisky.

    • #6
  7. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Mona,

    Indulge me I’ve just go to finish this.

    Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of ________ is no virtue.

    Maybe we should have a contest.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #7
  8. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    There are numerous reasons for settling a lawsuit. Those who use the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” line of attack seem to have trouble acknowledging that it’s really a “I have no facts” line of attack.

    Exactly.

    I lost count of the times during the campaign that some “brave” woman came forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct in past decades–only to be exposed–but to much less fanfare,  of course!–as a Clinton connection, a psychopath, or just a liar.

    And here’s the other thing:  these accusations by their nature are always “he said, she said”.  Such advances  never take place in front of witnesses, if they are real, and no one expects them to, so no one considers the lack of corroborating evidence to be damaging when the incident is fabricated.

    Now, states keep extending the Statutes of Limitations, civil and criminal, for sexual advances-based conduct.

    In my opinion, this is approaching the point  of depriving the accused of due process of law.

    • #8
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Well said, Mona, well said!

    • #9
  10. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Wow, Mona, get out of my head. I was literally thinking this exact same thing. Although I’m far less eloquent. Even in my head.

    • #10
  11. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    Maybe Fox ought to assign a chaperone to watch Bill O’Reilly. Put a shock collar on him and give him a zap when he starts getting too frisky.

    Where do you attach the collar….

    • #11
  12. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Mona,

    Indulge me I’ve just go to finish this.

    Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of ________ is no virtue.

    Maybe we should have a contest.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Sex. It’s sex right?

    • #12
  13. BD1 Member
    BD1
    @

    While the behavior of certain people at Fox News seems to have been inappropriate, I understand the instinct to protect them.  Liberals in high positions in the media have been protected and are celebrated to this day.

    For example,  Don Hewitt and Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame:

    Mike Wallace: “Wallace is accused of repeatedly making lewd comments about women’s physiques and bedroom abilities, pinching their bottoms and both snapping and unhooking their bra straps.”

    Don Hewitt: “He didn’t cross the line like Hewitt, who had been accused of pinning a woman against a wall and kissing her against her will.”

    • #13
  14. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Ha ! Yes. Everyone would be better off if Mike Pence’s rules became the norm again.

    Transparency and easily understood social signals are wonderful things.

    • #14
  15. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think the at-least-three-people rule should be adopted by everyone–teachers, youth group leaders, employers, absolutely everyone.

    Who knows what people will accuse you of? And it would prevent some things from happening altogether.

    I got to thinking about this during the priest scandals, when many priests were falsely accused.

    We are in a weird place right now in wanting to protect women from men while saying at the same time we should not protect women from men and instead arm them and send them to Iraq and Afghanistan into combat alongside men because men and women are equally strong and able to defend themselves.

    The current laws are as hard to fathom as that long sentence was to read. And then there are a lot of LGBT . . . combinations to worry about now. Will it come down to strong versus weak? Who will measure this ability?

    And what constitutes “sexual assault” is anyone’s guess.

    All it takes is one very disturbed woman or man to make the accusation and it can destroy someone’s life. Why take chances?

    • #15
  16. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Re: comment #15

    I remember, that back in the 80’s, there was a story about male models losing work after turning down the advances of wealthy women in positions of power. And Joseph’s problem with Potaphar’s wife just does feel true, somehow.

    Obviously, married people behaving in a more circumspect way wouldn’t eliminate all harassment, enticement, misunderstandings and false accusations. But it would certainly eliminate a lot of incidents of these things.

    • #16
  17. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    James Gawron

    Mona,

    Indulge me I’ve just go to finish this.Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of ________ is no virtue.Maybe we should have a contest.  Regards,  Jim

    If I was on Match Game, I’d say “nookie”. Fortunately, I am not.

    • #17
  18. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Okay, I must be repressed. When I was a student in a Catholic elementary school my dad told me never to do anything that I would be ashamed to tell the nuns. Well many years later I was riding a commuter train and noticed that a pregnant woman was standing. I offered her my seat and she refused, and she said I didn’t need to that. I said, please see this as doing a favor for me, if the nuns from my school days saw me sitting and you standing I’d be in serious trouble. She laughed and said, well I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble, and she took my seat.

    My wife and I attend social functions as a couple.  We have a shared life. We are outgoing, but we are in an exclusive relationship. I know what Mr. Pence means.

    • #18
  19. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    James Gawron

    Mona,

    Indulge me I’ve just go to finish this.Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of ________ is no virtue.Maybe we should have a contest. Regards, Jim

    If I was on Match Game, I’d say “nookie”. Fortunately, I am not.

    Guys,

    I think you are not playing this game properly. Here is my answer and Mona, I’ll take the Alte Rebbe for the win.

    Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of shalom bayit* is no virtue.

    *shalom bayit – means ‘peace in the house’ literally or as interpreted by Jewish Law ‘domestic harmony between husband & wife’.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #19
  20. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    James Gawron

     

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    James Gawron

    Mona,

    Indulge me I’ve just go to finish this.Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of ________ is no virtue.Maybe we should have a contest. Regards, Jim

    If I was on Match Game, I’d say “nookie”. Fortunately, I am not.

    Guys,

    I think you are not playing this game properly. Here is my answer and Mona, I’ll take the Alte Rebbe for the win.Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of shalom bayit* is no virtue.

    *shalom bayit – means ‘peace in the house’ literally or as interpreted by Jewish Law ‘domestic harmony between husband & wife’.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Sorry, Jim, there is no way you’ll get a check from Alec Baldwin with answers like that. (Of course, yours is the correct answer, just not one likely to match on the show.) Edit

    • #20
  21. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Mona Charen: if a TV star many conservatives enjoy watching turns out to be a serial sexual harasser, that would violate our norms, yes?

    Well, yes and no.

    O’R may be a serial sexual harasser. But he is certainly a political commentator and ‘journalist’. So focusing on his sexual shenanigans is rather like asking whether we should shun El Chapo because he broke the speed limit.

    I’m not trying to minimise the seriousness of (real) sexual harassment. Or even the importance of gentlemanly conduct. I’m saying that being a political commentator, a ‘TV star’, a ‘journalist’ is already such a deeply morally compromised thing to have chosen to be that all else pales into irrelevance.

    We consumers of political ‘journalism’ know we are indulging in a particularly tawdry form of entertainment, and we have no illusions about the character or souls of the performers we watch (or read). To admire the common sense of Mike Pence while at the same time chuckling at O’R’s on-screen mugging isn’t hypocrisy, or even inconsistency. The moral question we should be asking ourselves is whether we should be consuming – or abetting, or excusing – ‘journalism’ at all.

    • #21
  22. JLock Inactive
    JLock
    @CrazyHorse

    Meanwhile, the number of Americans who don’t give a good damn about any of this is not only growing but looking at both sides with rising antipathy and apathy. And as an independent/radical centrist — who’s so ready for punditry’s carnival side show of ideological blame to end — I’m like:

    • #22
  23. Demaratus Coolidge
    Demaratus
    @Demaratus

    JLock (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, the number of Americans who don’t give a good damn about any of this is not only growing but looking at both sides with rising antipathy and apathy. And as an independent/radical centrist — who’s so ready for punditry’s carnival side show of ideological blame to end — I’m like:

    Thank you for you honesty, Mr. Screwtape.

    • #23
  24. JLock Inactive
    JLock
    @CrazyHorse

    Demaratus (View Comment):

    JLock (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, the number of Americans who don’t give a good damn about any of this is not only growing but looking at both sides with rising antipathy and apathy. And as an independent/radical centrist — who’s so ready for punditry’s carnival side show of ideological blame to end — I’m like:

    Thank you for you honesty, Mr. Screwtape.

    As I literally set aside The Screwtape Letters (my favorite Lewis) to read this notification — it would be far more spooky if I wasn’t just talking about Synchronicity (coined by Lewis’ pal Jung) in another thread.

    • #24
  25. JLock Inactive
    JLock
    @CrazyHorse

    Demaratus (View Comment):

    JLock (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, the number of Americans who don’t give a good damn about any of this is not only growing but looking at both sides with rising antipathy and apathy. And as an independent/radical centrist — who’s so ready for punditry’s carnival side show of ideological blame to end — I’m like:

    Thank you for you honesty, Mr. Screwtape.

    And while this reference is excellent and made me laugh heartily — a sad point needs to be made. While it’s always been acrimonious since the get-go, I’ve never seen such partisan-distrust that people who want to validate both sides of an argument are despised. Lame, naive, even stupid — but never such suspicion and revilement towards compromise.

    Especially when I suggest that in some areas — compromise could even act as synergy.

    Guess it’s a mixed-race thing.

    • #25
  26. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    genferei (View Comment):

    Mona Charen: if a TV star many conservatives enjoy watching turns out to be a serial sexual harasser, that would violate our norms, yes?

    Well, yes and no.

    O’R may be a serial sexual harasser. But he is certainly a political commentator and ‘journalist’. So focusing on his sexual shenanigans is rather like asking whether we should shun El Chapo because he broke the speed limit.

    I’m not trying to minimise the seriousness of (real) sexual harassment. Or even the importance of gentlemanly conduct. I’m saying that being a political commentator, a ‘TV star’, a ‘journalist’ is already such a deeply morally compromised thing to have chosen to be that all else pales into irrelevance.

    We consumers of political ‘journalism’ know we are indulging in a particularly tawdry form of entertainment, and we have no illusions about the character or souls of the performers we watch (or read). To admire the common sense of Mike Pence while at the same time chuckling at O’R’s on-screen mugging isn’t hypocrisy, or even inconsistency. The moral question we should be asking ourselves is whether we should be consuming – or abetting, or excusing – ‘journalism’ at all.

    Bada-bing, bada-boom. Nailed it.

    • #26
  27. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Fox should stop hiring  so many attractive women.  They could hire liberals instead.  Or not hire any women, establish the Pence rule everywhere always so that he said she said never arises, put simpli safe in all rooms everywhere, running all the time, help your sponsor.   None of the options help women or Fox.  O’Reilly on the other hand has made enough money to last many generations, maybe he should write one more book, a tell all,  “Killing O’Reilly.

    • #27
  28. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    Okay, I must be repressed. When I was a student in a Catholic elementary school my dad told me never to do anything that I would be ashamed to tell the nuns. Well many years later I was riding a commuter train and noticed that a pregnant woman was standing. I offered her my seat and she refused, and she said I didn’t need to that. I said, please see this as doing a favor for me, if the nuns from my school days saw me sitting and you standing I’d be in serious trouble. She laughed and said, well I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble, and she took my seat.

    My wife and I attend social functions as a couple. We have a shared life. We are outgoing, but we are in an exclusive relationship. I know what Mr. Pence means.

    Your Catholic upbringing isn’t all that different from my Texas Southern Baptist rearing.

    • #28
  29. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    MarciN (View Comment):
    I think the at-least-three-people rule should be adopted by everyone–teachers, youth group leaders, employers, absolutely everyone.

    Who knows what people will accuse you of? And it would prevent some things from happening altogether.

    I got to thinking about this during the priest scandals, when many priests were falsely accused.

    We are in a weird place right now in wanting to protect women from men while saying at the same time we should not protect women from men and instead arm them and send them to Iraq and Afghanistan into combat alongside men because men and women are equally strong and able to defend themselves.

    The current laws are as hard to fathom as that long sentence was to read. And then there are a lot of LGBT . . . combinations to worry about now. Will it come down to strong versus weak? Who will measure this ability?

    And what constitutes “sexual assault” is anyone’s guess.

    All it takes is one very disturbed woman or man to make the accusation and it can destroy someone’s life. Why take chances?

    This is the point:  even an accusation destroys someone’s life.  And if you’re convicted, or if you make the awful error of pleading guilty just to “put it behind you”, you’ll find there are a host of collateral civil consequences designed to ostracize you to a leper colony, both physically and metaphorically.  (Your defense counsel,  if you had one,  is not obliged to tell you about these consequences, nor is anyone else, and the fact that your guilty plea was uninformed is not a legal basis for new trial. )

    So:

    these sexual-assault type crimes have the longest statutes of limitations : only murder is as long or longer, but see, with a murder, there at least has to be a dead body! Whereas 15 years after someone’s genitals have allegedly been stroked, there is NO physical evidence of any kind, and often not even any evidence of inclination and opportunity; and

    they are uniuqe in that the “evidence” almost always comes down solely to a swearing contest between the accuser and the accused;  and, as @marcin points out

    a conviction or plea to any such offense is essentially a “civil death” sentence, which the accused won’t find out until  after the case is closed.

    As a powerful politician who professes a faith, Pence is an even greater target for such accusations than other individuals in public life.

    Looked at this way, Pence’s personal rules are no more than the most moderate prudence.

     

    • #29
  30. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Mona,

    Extremism in defense of fidelity is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of shalom bayit* is no virtue.

    *shalom bayit – means ‘peace in the house’ literally or as interpreted by Jewish Law ‘domestic harmony between husband & wife’.

    Having slept on this for a night I’ve decided this should be named, The Domestic Imperative. Mona, you receive half the credit for its authorship. If there are royalties involved I’ll let you know.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #30

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