Is Franken already back? Is the "iconic" (per Nancy Pelosi) Conyers on his way out? How are certain people in the journalism world getting promotions when they are now getting accused of harassment and “were known” to engage in sexual misconduct? Investigative Journalist and author of “The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think and How You Vote,” Sharyl Attkisson joins Dan and Amy to discuss.
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Dan Proft: Top of the morning, Dan and Amy and Al Franken’s back and John Conyers may be on his way out Amy. Amy: Oh yeah, Al Franken stepped down yesterday with only local reporters from Minneapolis after he’s been hiding out for ten days. Say that he’s sorry but he is going to continue to go to work. Al Franken: I can’t say that that hasn’t happened. I take thousands and thousands of pictures, we sometimes (indecipherable) in chaotic situations. I can’t say I haven’t done that and I am very sorry if these women experienced that. A: So he can’t say whether or not he’s touched women’s butts when they pose for pictures. D: Sure. A: He doesn’t remember touching that one woman’s buttocks, but he can’t say whether or not it’s happened before. D: You take thousands of pictures, you can’t keep track of everyone you grope and everyone you don’t grope. I mean who can keep track of all that? A: Body parts are in different places on different people, Dan. D: There’s no question about it, it’s a real conundrum Senator Franken finds himself in as does John Conyers. Now it’s interesting, we just talked to Noah Rothman from Commentary. He suggests Conyers should step down because, I didn’t realize this because he’s got he believes he’s losing his faculties like he’s got early onset-well not so early A: He’s got dementia. D: He’s an old man, but yeah he’s got dementia A: He’s had it for years, and people are protecting him. D: Well protecting him over the weekend on the Sunday talkies was Nancy Pelosi the iconic John Conyers she told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. Chuck Todd: You said there’s now a zero tolerance. John Conyers, what does that mean for him? Is he in or out? Nancy Pelosi: Let’s say we are strengthened by due process. Just because someone is accused and was it one accusation, is it two? I think there has to be John Conyers is an icon in our country. He’s done a great deal to protect women. The Violence Against Women Act which the left wing right wing is now quoting me as praising him for his work on that and he did great work on that, but the fact is, as John reviews his case, which he knows which I don’t, I believe he Chuck Todd: Why don’t you- Nancy Pelosi: I believe Chuck Todd: How is it that- Nancy Pelosi: Excuse me, may I finish my sentence Chuck Todd: Sure, sure Nancy Pelosi: I believe that he will do the right thing. Chuck Todd: And is the right thing what, resign? Nancy Pelosi: He will do the right thing in terms of what he knows about his situation, that he’s entitled to due process but women are entitled to due process as well. Chuck Todd: He got it, he took advantage of a situation where he had an- the rules of Congress, and I know you guys wanna change these rules, but he got to hide his settlement, he got to, his accusers had to go through all sorts of craziness, so why is he entitled to new due process in this case? Nancy Pelosi: Well I know, we are talking about what we have heard. I’ve asked the Ethics Committee to review that. He has said h’d be open, he will cooperate Chuck Todd: Do you believe his accusers? Nancy Pelosi: Excuse me? Chuck Todd: Do you believe John Conyers’ accusers? Nancy Pelosi: I don’t know who they are, do you? They have not really come forward and that Chuck Todd: You don’t know if you believe the accusations? Nancy Pelosi: That’s for the Ethics Committee to review, but I believe he understands what is at stake here and he will do the right thing. D: Yeaaah, when political interests run into your erstwhile feminism, right Representative Pelosi? Yeah, by the way, there’s a celebrity perv apology generator now, have you seen it? A: No, I haven’t. D: This could also be used by members of congress. A: Celebrity perv policy- what is it? D: Celebrit perv policy generator, it’s a widget that some people created, Rob Sheridan, Scott McCaughey, Dana Schwartz- For example, this should be laminated in like a wallet sized card that members of congress, the DC press corp, and Hollywood could carry around with them. I’ll give you an example, here’s how you apologize. It’s sort of like what you heard from Franken, some of these women have experienced something that they didn’t enjoy, I’m sorry for that. “As someone who grew up in a different era, harassment is completely unacceptable, especially when people find out about it. At the time I believed that my sociopathic manipulation of the 22 year old in my office was consensual and of course now I realize my behavior was wrong. In conclusion, I will not change anything about my actions or behavior.” Pretty good. There are some good ones there. There’s some specific for the Golden Globes parties… A: Right Oh great. D: Yeah it’s very very good, very creative. Alright, for more on this topic of a serious nature, we’re pleased to be joined by our friend, Cheryl Atkinson, investigative journalist, author of The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote Cheryl Atkinson: Thanks for having me. D: So you penned a piece for The Hill, how the sex abuse allegations, some of which we were just talking about there with respect to Franken and Conyers but many others- exposed the media’s hypocrisy on Trump. Explain your contention. C: Well that headline was picked of course by The Hill, you know we don’t write our own headlines D: Right C: That was their takeaway. My takeaway sort of my intention was how did certain how are certain people in our profession being promoted and hired in the first place when there are widely known things about them. What does our profession value even as we’re writing about the shortfalls of important political figures for example what’s happening in our own house. And I highlight the case of the New York Times Reporter Glen Thrush who’s under investigation for you know misconduct allegations and before the New York Times hired Glen Thrush, they already knew from Wikileaks documents that he had pre approved improperly in my view and unethically, preapproved stories with Hillary’s campaign manager and done things like that, called himself a hack in internal emails jokingly but only half jokingly and yet this is a guy they thought was fit to hire at the New York Times and promote to Politico to report fairly and impartially on the president and the things that he has written about the president are very similar to as you see in my article to the things that he’s being accused of. So it’s just a question I wanted to raise about about our profession. A: As a journalist and someone who’s worked in several newsrooms, have you ever experienced sexual harassment? C: Oh my gosh I mean by what we’re defining today as sexua harrassment I think when I talk with my friends you wonder where to begin in that discussion because- constantly, but I would say it didn’t hurt me in terms of you know I made I think women learn how to kind of deal with it, handle it, get around it, and move on so that it doesn’t hurt their careers, and I think I come from a time, I’m 56 years old when and I’ll just tell you one quick story, I don’t think I put this in any off my books, who cares, but my first job when I was 20-whatever, early 20’s, 21 or so the general manager who I think is deceased now by the way, but this is down in Florida, called me in when he heard I was getting married and he threw $40 down on the table and told me to buy a wedding present for myself and I thought “hmm okay” and I picked up the cash and he said “buy yourself a bikini” and he chuckled and then he says “take a picture of yourself in, bring it back to me, show me the picture.” A: So creepy C: And I remember going home telling my finance, my husband now “do you think he’s serious?” my husband’s like “yes he’s serious don’t obviously don’t do it” but it was just awkward I mean from awkward to then one of the quick one in Orlando interviewing for the job the assistant news director when he was gonna hire me as a producer and I said well will I have the next opening as a reporter which I really wanted to be and he pointed out of the newsroom and said “see that girl there?” I said yeah he said “you know how bad she wants to be a reporter? She would lay down on this desk and let me f her right now.” He used the word. And again I’m like “why is he saying this to me?” He also invited me to spend the night at his house, and I kept saying “I only live an hour away I can drive” and you know just things like that are commonplace I think in our industry. D: Going back to the media, well sticking with the media I guess I should say and particularly someone that’s a couple of generations ahead of you, but Charlie Rose. This may be the biggest name to fall so far and again we find out when one woman comes forward and sort of breaks the seal and then people follow, but a lot of people protected Charlie Rose, is that fair? Or were intimidated by Charlie Rose? I mean part of this is trying to figure out where the lines are of culpability. Isn’t it if you’re an enabler or protector you just kind of legitimately describe yourself as being intimidated and not wanting to have your career suffer as a result of stepping in when someone’s acting inappropriately. C: Well when everybody around you so admires somebody as they do or did Charlie Rose and speaks of him so highly while under their breath saying with a chuckle “what a partier he is” you know I never heard by the way these allegations against him with women or with unwanted advances with women, I heard he stays up all night, parties like a 20 year old and chuckle chuckle chuckle you know and are you going to be the one if something does happen to you again in your profession that everybody looks at because you said something bad about you know the fun guy on the block that everybody likes and this is I would say it’s not terribly uncommon again there’s way more things I’ve heard and I think as other people would say shoes that will fall because it’s just so incredibly common and I’m not talking about rape, I’m talking about improper and perhaps unethical activity and I think there are distinctions between all of these things but in our industry these sort of unwanted advances and pressure that sort of thing I think is exceedingly common. D: All right, Cheryl Atkinson, she is of course a celebrated investigative reporter, journalist the book The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote Cheryl thanks as always for joining us, appreciate it. C: Thanks for having me