The media tend to downplay sexual violence committed by progressive politicians, even when reporting it. Justin Miller of the liberal Daily Beast noted recently that “Senators Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd sexually assaulted a waitress in 1985. No one apparently called it that, but that’s what it was.” This attack committed by two Senate Democrats was reported at the time, often in reporting that minimized its significance, as if sexual assault could somehow be excused as “boys being boys.” It was quickly forgotten. If they had been Republicans, rather than Democrats, America’s newspapers would have been filled with furious columns by progressive female columnists about how powerful men can get away with anything, and the country would have had a months-long “national conversation” about sexual assault and male entitlement.
But at least some media organs did report it. As the liberal Gentlemen’s Quarterly described the assault,
As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-pound-plus Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and the lit candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd’s lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weigh on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room. Kennedy, Dodd, and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check.
Congress did nothing to either man for committing this assault. Kennedy remained one of the most powerful members of the Senate, and Dodd became one, due to a promotion. He was elevated to the post of Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. He used that perch to receive a sweetheart deal from a bank and block financial reforms that might have prevented the 2008 financial crisis. As early signs of the crisis appeared, Dodd minimized them. He denied that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which later had to be taken over and bailed out by the Federal government, were in “trouble,” calling them “fundamentally strong,” “sound,” and “in good shape.” After the financial crisis happened, Dodd used it as a pretext to enact the perverse Dodd-Frank Act, which doubled down on the very policies that led to the financial crisis.
Turning a blind eye to the sexual misconduct of Kennedy and Dodd, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) later called Kennedy one of the “Galahads of the Senate.” Yet, she hypocritically condemned Republicans falsely accused of far less. She railed against Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court Justice who was accused in 1991, probably falsely, of saying unwanted sexual things years earlier to Anita Hill. People who looked closely at Hill’s charges didn’t believe them. FBI agents “filed statements detailing what they described as Hill’s untruthfulness,” and many women who worked with Thomas “forcefully rejected the charges.” Hill also had a powerful incentive to lie.
Ted Kennedy had a long and ugly history of mistreating women. In 1969, he left a young woman to die in the Chappaquiddick incident. He did not report for hours the fact that she was trapped in a car that Kennedy had driven off a bridge in Massachusetts and discouraged others from reporting it to police as well.
As Wikipedia describes the incident: “Knowing the woman was still trapped inside the vehicle, Kennedy rested on the bank for around 15 minutes before he returned on foot to Lawrence Cottage, the site of the party” he had recently left, where he did not tell those attending the party. He did tell Joe Gargan and Paul Markham but instructed them to let him “take care of the accident,” which dissuaded them from reporting it, ensuring Mary Jo Kopechne’s death. As Wikipedia further notes:
John Farrar was the captain of the Edgartown Fire Rescue unit and the diver who recovered Kopechne’s body. He alleged that Kopechne died from suffocation rather than from drowning or from the impact of the overturned vehicle. This hypothesis was based upon the posture in which he found the body and the body’s relative position to the area of an ultimate air pocket in the overturned vehicle. Farrar also asserted that Kopechne would have probably survived if a more timely rescue attempt had been conducted. Farrar testified at the Inquest: “It looked as if she were holding herself up to get a last breath of air. It was a consciously assumed position. … She didn’t drown. She died of suffocation in her own air void. It took her at least three or four hours to die. I could have had her out of that car twenty-five minutes after I got the call. But he [Ted Kennedy] didn’t call.”
Misconduct by liberal judges has also historically been ignored or downplayed by the press. A classic example is Justice William O. Douglas, who sexually harassed women as if it were an Olympic sport, even as he was treated by liberal journalists as a “cool cat.”
As a senior lawyer and former court clerk lamented, Douglas was “a compulsive sexual harasser, who repeatedly assaulted women, as any number of court employees attested. … Justice Douglas would show up to judicial conferences and grope even the wives of federal judges, triggering fistfights with men whose wives he sexually assaulted.” As Richard Posner, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, has observed:
Apart from being a flagrant liar, Douglas was a compulsive womanizer, a heavy drinker, a terrible husband to each of his four wives, a terrible father to his two children, and a bored, distracted, uncollegial, irresponsible, and at times unethical Supreme Court justice.
But Douglas remains a progressive icon. Federal appeals court Judge Margaret McKeown recently called him a “legal giant” because of his rulings. His rulings twisted logic and precedent into a pretzel. He made things up out of thin air. As Justice Douglas’s own former law clerk, Stephen Duke, admitted, “Few law professors are unabashed admirers of the work of Justice Douglas. His opinions were terse” to the point of paying little attention to precedent and the purpose of constitutional provisions. Moreover, “Douglas’s opinions were often obscure in their reasoning and even their holdings. Many were drafted in twenty minutes. Some were written on the bench during oral argument. … His published opinions often read like rough drafts.”