Monday, June 24, 2019


in a New York magazine story published online Friday, advice columnist E. Jean Carroll told us that she'd been raped by Donald Trump in the mid-1990s. The story was widely ignored by major media outlets:
As Columbia Journalism Review's Jon Allsop writes, after the allegation was published, neither The New York Times, nor the Wall Street Journal, nor the Los Angeles Times, nor the Chicago Tribune put the story on its front page the following day. Among major papers, only the Washington Post did so, but in a small item below the fold. The New York Times did run a story on the same day — but in the Books section, and never featured it on its website homepage.

There was a similar pattern in TV coverage. Some liberal cable news hosts ran items on it, and CNN had Carroll on its "New Day" morning show on Monday, but the big five Sunday talk shows almost totally ignored it — not bringing the subject up to any of their marquee guests, including Vice President Mike Pence.
Here are some folks who argue -- plausibly, I think -- that the story was kept off the Sunday shows and the front pages for very petty reasons:

I'm reminded of something Josh Marshall wrote last week, after The New York Times published a lengthy but not at all groundbreaking story about the curious connection between Jerry Falwell Jr., his wife, and a former pool boy whom the couple befriended and then set up in business. The Times published the piece long after other outlets got to the story.
It’s a classic Timesian piece, the kind fellow journalists often grind their teeth over. The Times comes in late, largely with other people’s reporting and makes the whole thing official with [a] splash of Times holy water.
I think that's what the Times, at least, might be planning to do with the story -- a week or two or maybe a month or two from now, the paper will re-report it. Reporters who covered the Harvey Weinstein beat will probably be involved. As far as the Times is concerned, only then will it be a real story.

Or maybe not. I suspect that many media outlets regard Trump's sexual predation as a story that's already been aired and litigated -- charges against Trump were publicized in 2016, but he won the election, so any subsequent story seems like double jeopardy to many editors. We're talking about rape, and yet editors think they should defer to (a minority of) voters when deciding whether to take allegations seriously.

Also, the media is still disproportionately male. The Carroll allegations probably don't seem particularly important to many editors. Though I should add a #NotAllMen footnote here: The one major outlet that gave the story any kind of front-page coverage is the one edited by Marty Barron, the man who oversaw the unmasking of widespread Catholic Church sexual abuse when he was at The Boston Globe.

We may see a second wave of articles after other outlets have had a chance to sprinkle this story with their "holy water." Or the allegations might be memory-holed, because they seem prurient and trivial rather than horrific to many editors, and because no sexual assault allegation ever sticks to Trump.


UPDATE, THURSDAY: Well, here's the Times holy water: an exclusive interview with the two women who have corroborated Carroll's story. The interview is conducted by Megan Twohey, from the Times team that won a Pulitzer for the paper's Harvey Weinstein coverage.

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