Bozell & Graham: Harassment at the Center for American Progress

· May 2, 2018  
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Center for American Progress logo and American flag
U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development | Flickr

The Center for American Progress, founded in 2003 by former Bill Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, promotes itself as pushing “bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action.” On April 23, the left-leaning website BuzzFeed reported there’s a sexual harassment problem at this “politics and policy hub of the Democratic establishment.”

Writer Sarah Mimms began: “One of Washington’s leading liberal institutions grappled with a divisive internal battle over sexual harassment during and in the aftermath of the 2016 election, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News and interviews with 19 current and former staffers.”

In a 2017 tweet still pinned at the top of her Twitter page, CAP President Neera Tanden, a major Hillary Clinton backer, proclaimed, “I don’t think the country has understood how psychologically wounding it was to so many women that Trump won after the Access Hollywood tape.”

But BuzzFeed reports that only an hour after that “Access Hollywood” tape was made public, top officials at CAP received an exit memo from a junior staffer calling herself “Mary” that detailed sexual harassment she experienced by Benton Strong, a former manager on her team.

Mary, who’d just quit, alleged that Strong sent lewd text messages expressing his desire to perform oral sex on her, frequently made comments about her body and “repeatedly asked her to come over to his apartment or let him come over to hers for a drink.” (Another woman had complained of Strong’s lewd office commentary several months before.) She says Strong’s harassment was well-known within CAP’s upper ranks, and that she was retaliated against for reporting the harassment. “I surely expected better out of an organization that housed a national campaign on sexual assault,” she says.

Strong admitted acting inappropriately and left for a job as communications director for then-Seattle Mayor Ed Murray … who had to resign in 2017 after five men came forward alleging he had sexually abused them when they were teenagers.

As champions of the #MeToo movement, surely the liberal media were all over the story of the Democratic policy hub’s problem. No. There was nothing in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today or the Associated Press. The Washington Post passed over it briefly in a Daily 202 post … 3,600 words into the massive post. It wasn’t in the newspaper.

And the TV and radio titans? There was zero coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR, CNN, and MSNBC. Porn star Stormy Daniels is sizzling news, but not this.

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News devoted a segment to it on April 25. The host suggested “a lot of people — the activists on the left, not all lefties but the activists — kind of proceed in the certainty that they are morally superior and that no evidence changes their mind about that.”

There’s been a lot of tough reporting on sexual harassment since Donald Trump became president. So why can’t the media find this story with two hands? Remember this when the members of the Washington press corps pat themselves on the back over how they expose all the uncomfortable news about powerful sexual harassers. All curiosity somehow dies on H Street in Washington, D.C., at the front door of the so-called Center for American Progress.


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Author: L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.