1. It’s Tuesday, September 6, 2016. The election is 63 days away.
2. Fox News thought better of the idea of a protracted legal battle with Gretchen Carlson. So, instead of pressing to enforce its claim that her sexual harassment suit against the network go to arbitration, it settled for $20 million, according to Vanity Fair.
But not only is parent company 21st Century Fox paying off Carlson – it’s apologizing for the way she was treated. “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve,” the company said in a statement.
The settlement comes not long after Gabriel Sherman’s disturbing piece for New York magazine about former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, painting a picture of a serial sexual harasser for almost a half century. Sherman says that Carlson had a weapon on her own – she secretly recorded incriminating conversations with Ailes.
Ailes didn’t like Sherman’s piece. He hired the lawyer who took down Gawker and is said to be mulling a suit against New York.
But here’s the problem for Ailes. One, his employer has settled with Carlson and apologized for the misbehavior attributed to Ailes. Two, there are indications Ailes is on the hook for some of the $20 million that Carlson’s getting.
That’s going to make it hard to prove that Sherman doesn’t have at least some of what he wrote right.
3. It’s great that Carlson won this battle for dignity, and actually won it fairly convincingly. It was only two months ago that this whole controversy broke into the open – often, stuff like this takes months and years to come to resolution.
The settlement gives her an opportunity. TV networks and newsrooms of all kinds aren’t the only workplaces where women are sexually harassed. It happens all over the country, and often to women who don’t feel empowered to fight back.
A woman who’s won big over a powerful media outlet can be quite a symbol for others who don’t have her resources but certainly match her problem.
Carlson is politically conservative. She worked on Fox News. She once implied that Ted Kennedy was a hostile enemy of the United States because he opposed funding for the Iraq troop surge. A member of the Bush White House team actually disputed her characterization.
But this doesn’t seem to be a conservative-liberal thing. Respect isn’t political. Or it shouldn’t be. Respect is basic human civility, and a workplace in which women don’t feel comfortable should be unacceptable to everyone.
Carlson, in her statement released by 21st Century Fox, seems to be on track. “I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life in which I will redouble my efforts to empower women in the workplace,” she said. “All women deserve a dignified and respectful workplace in which talent, hard work and loyalty are recognized, revered and rewarded.”
4. The new president of The Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, is a jackass.
What he did over the weekend, dissing President Obama, is only a microscopic part of why. He and Obama were supposed to meet during a regional summit in Laos. But if Obama brought up a Filipino crackdown supposed to target drug dealers, Duterte would call the President a Tagalog curse that means “son of a whore,” according to The New York Times.
Obama, who only has 4-1/2 months left as President, doesn’t think he wants to waste any of it talking to a crackpot. So he canceled the meeting.
Now, of course, that he looks like the fool he is, Duterte is apologizing. But, instead of having his stature raised by being seen with the most respected figure in the world, he’s reduced himself and his country in the eyes of the world.
Duterte’s crackdown is a serious matter. Estimates put the death toll at around 2,000, as Duterte has empowered police and vigilantes to take justice into their own hands. That thing about giving the accused a trial is too annoying for him to deal with.
So Obama was right to cancel. And because the United States remains an important part of Filipino life – the country was an American colony until 1946 – giving Duterte any sort of standing until reason bites him in the butt is unacceptable.
The U.S. should treat Duterte the way it treats other tinhorns – as clowns on the world stage, undermining their standing with the people of their country.
If Duterte wants to see what happens with that sort of treatment, he need only look at Venezuela, which is on the verge of revolution in the wake of the oil price collapse. The Obama administration, insulted by the late President Hugo Chavez and his successor, isn’t about to help them out.
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