What does alleged misconduct by men at the place of business of Kamala Harris’ husband have to do with Kamala Harris herself?
The short and sensible answer is nothing at all, but apparently, select cable news segment producers disagree. It is not totally their fault. The story didn’t appear out of thin air, but rather is a result of an open letter penned to the Democratic presidential candidate from Jeanne Christensen, an attorney representing Vanina Guerrero, a junior partner at DLA Piper accusing her boss of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and retaliation. Christensen was soliciting Harris’ help in getting her client released from DLA Piper’s mandatory arbitration rules so that she is able to “get her day in court.”
“I hope that you either read about the open letter yourself or that your husband Douglas Emhoff, a partner at DLA Piper, shared it with you,” Christensen writes. “Unfortunately, DLA Piper has not yet waived the mandatory arbitration clause. In fact, they have not responded. Instead, our client’s name and profile were removed from the DLA Piper website for most of Thursday along with other retaliatory acts that are deeply disturbing.”
She went on to write, “Given your profile as a candidate for the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, you are in a unique position to condemn the actions of DLA Piper and made clear that mandatory arbitration must stop.”
In response to a request for comment, Harris’ communications director, Lily Adams, released the following statement: “Senator Harris has been and continues to be a staunch advocate for survivors and believes all people must be guaranteed their day in court. She has long opposed forced arbitration agreements and that position has not changed and she does not believe this is any exception.”
I assume Christensen got the response she was looking for, and while, one can peep game with respect to her tactics to elicit a response to Harris, I question why any media outlet would cover this as news. As I understand it, Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, is one of well over 1000 partners at the global law firm and has absolutely nothing to do with the Palo Alto office Vanina Guerrero worked out of. So, if there is no real connection, why would select media outlets take the bait?
One can root for Guerrero’s vindication without having it to be unnecessarily tied to a female presidential candidate? Perhaps some of this frustration stems from the fact that Donald Trump was credibly accused of rape earlier in the year and the story quickly faded from the national conversation. It also doesn’t help that other female presidential candidates and nationally known women politicians were saddled with sexist, stupid smearing attempts the same week of the nonstory centering Harris.
To wit, the Free Beacon thought it was doing something when it ran a story questioning the accuracy of Elizabeth Warren’s claims about how she lost a job due to her pregnancy back in the 1970s. While her rapid response shows she’s far quicker than some of her competitors to respond to smearing attempts (ahem, Joe Biden), the asininity of this stunt warrants public dragging. How simple must you be to believe that county records of the 1970s are where you find the truth about instances of gender bias and discrimination to be properly documented?
I am not the proud owner of a uterus, but I am fully aware that women, who continue to be paid less than their male counterparts, still often fear how their employers will react to their pregnancies.
Meanwhile, another conservative outlet, the Washington Times, ran the article “EXCLUSIVE: Self-declared socialist AOC splurges on high-dollar hairdo,” which is as dim as you think it is. Richard Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, is quoted saying the following about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “AOC is the Eva Peron of American politics. She preaches socialism while living the life of the privileged.” Richard Manning can fall curl first into the abyss.
The backlash was swift, but the fact that people even thought this was going to reflect poorly of Ocasio-Cortez speaks to the lingering hypocrisy and double standards plaguing female politicians. And I can’t help but acknowledge the different treatment between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton over their respective health concerns. When Hillary Clinton fainted as a result of pneumonia back during the 2016 presidential campaign, conservative media piled on and far too many mainstream news outlets soon followed suit. By contrast, Bernie Sanders has a whole heart attack and it’s barely a blip in the news. That’s not Bernie Sanders’ fault; I wish him a speedy recovery and to keep giving the ultra-rich hell. Nevertheless, the difference in media narratives is maddening.
And all of this is a reminder of why I continue to have the gender equivalent of white guilt. I’d like to think it will improve. But I dare not hold my breath.