On Second Thought, I’ll Have The Kibbeh

by Belle Waring on October 23, 2004

I highly recommend this thoughtful post from hilzoy at Obsidian Wings about this wretched little column from Richard Cohen. In it, he heaps scorn on O’Reilly accuser Andrea Mackris for not bitch-slapping O’Reilly the minute he got out of line (and losing her job, no doubt). From Cohen:

Whether Mackris was aware of her power is impossible for me to say. But I can say that she never went to Fox’s human resources department to complain about O’Reilly. She never seemed to realize that by not complaining and, more specifically, by going to dinner with him, to his hotel room and then, upon returning to Fox News, accepting assignments and a salary increase not given to others, she was hardly telling O’Reilly that she found his behavior thoroughly repugnant, as she says in her lawsuit. I almost pity O’Reilly. Off camera, he must be a bit slow.

As hilzoy says:

…there is something quite odd about pretending not to understand in this case. People who have to deal with sexual harassment are already victimized, whether or not they are “mere victims”. I, for one, thought it was completely unfair that I had to walk through this minefield just in order to be able to talk to a professor about something I needed to know about. Most students did not have to do that, nor (for that matter) were they ever groped by professors at parties, or asked out by them. Lucky them. Unlucky me. I imagine that Andrea Mackris (if the allegations are true) found it unfair that she had to tolerate Bill O’Reilly’s repulsive fantasies in order to advance professionally. Most people don’t have to put up with that sort of thing at all; if the allegations are true, she did, and that’s unfair. It is unfair that what other people are able to achieve by normal means, victims of sexual harassment can only achieve by listening to their bosses’ bizarre sexual comments, or worse. But it would be doubly unfair to insist that victims of sexual harassment be prepared not just to sit through that stuff, but actually to do things that might cost them their jobs, before we will let them bring suit against those who harass them without writing snarky little columns about their complicity.

Word. I usually think that men who write this kind of thing are unaware of the unpleasant things a seemingly normal man might say in such a situation, but Cohen obviously doesn’t have that excuse. It’s clear that he’s never been in this situation, and had to make the careful calculations of whether to go see someone in his office, how to consistently turn down invitations to coffee, and what to say when things take a turn for the nasty. It’s also clear that he lacks imagination and empathy.