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Mika Brzezinski Continues to Fundamentally Misunderstand the #MeToo Movement, Remains the Worst

Joe Scarborough is a close second.

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski is back with yet another round of misinformed attacks on the movement of women and men coming speaking out against their abusers.

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Earlier this month, when Al Franken resigned, Brzezinski posited the very easily answerable question, “I’m just wondering if all women need to be believed.” The answer to that is, obviously, yes. (I don’t want to hear your “but what about false accusations?” handwringing. Princess already destroyed that argument.) But Brzezinski is worried that “we are being the judge, the jury and the cops here.”

Yesterday on Morning Joe, she shared more thoughts on the #MeToo movement. In discussing Franken’s resignation, Brzezinski and her guests talked about the process of going through the ethics committee’s investigation. (Franken originally said he would cooperate with an investigation, but announced his resignation instead after a number of his colleagues called for him to step down.)

MSNBC’s Willie Geist addressed claims that the process of going through the ethics committee is flawed. Essentially, he said that it may be, but it’s better than nothing–”it’s the process you’ve got, and you can’t throw out due process altogether. You’ve got to have due process.”

Brzezinski interrupted to say “It’s going to be complicated, but I think women feel that they are maligned and mistreated through the process and therefore they’re afraid to step forward. So we need to look at the process.”

She then proceeded to malign and mistreat the women who are coming forward.

“But right now any woman, can say anything, and a man’s career is ruined,” Brzezinski continued. “Now, a lot of women can say things that are true, and [the men’s] careers should be ruined. But the problem is that any woman can say anything, and that’s it, it’s over. Is that how we’re running businesses now?

She insists that she gets how the process of speaking out is stacked against women, that HR departments and other established channels aren’t really designed to provide help for victims. “I totally understand what women face here,” she says.

“But,” she continues–because of course there’s a but–”I just also am stricken and I’m chilled by some of the cases I’m seeing of people being run out of their jobs, bankrupted, and absolutely no due process.”

Co-host Joe Scarborough jumps in to say, “Whatever the movement is, whatever the cause is, if you think it is bigger than due process, giving people an opportunity to be heard and making sure–I know there are some people that say ‘Well, you know what, if some people get destroyed, if their lives get destroyed, that’s a small price.'”

Except no one is saying that. These are the most predictable straw arguments, and they’re rooted in a belief that women are weaponizing some sort of newfound power (the power to be listened to like a human being?), and using it to take down any man who ever dumped them or used a tone they didn’t like. They seem to view women as if we’re all the boy from that Twilight Zone episode who could set people on fire or banish them to cornfields, and at any moment we might just do that, for no reason at all.

Women, apparently

Brzezinski says that because of this fear of vengeful women, she knows some men “who say they won’t hire women now.” Guest Sam Stein responded appropriately, saying “That’s stupid.” Because it is.

Brzezinski and Scarborough then detailed an elaborate hypothetical, asking what Stein would do if some imaginary woman came forward 20 years from now and said he once, long ago, touched her leg and thereby ruined his career. That’s what they think is happening here. It is very clear that at the most basic level, they do not believe what women are saying. They do not believe what women have said about Franken, not even the parts he’s admitted to. Scarborough brings up an unnamed journalist (who sounds an awful lot like Ryan Lizza) who he says was fired without being told what his alleged misconduct even was. If he is talking about Lizza, that’s not what was actually reported as having happened, but it fits the narrative they’re going for–that if they themselves haven’t been personally convinced that each individual woman with a story of harassment or assault isn’t lying, then they probably are. Maybe they all are.

We’ve heard this same line of thought from men like Matt Damon, who insist we take these accusations on a “case by case” basis, as if that’s not actually happening, as if we don’t know that sexual harassment is different than groping and groping is different than rape. We see it when a public figure is fired after a company investigated a claim where the details weren’t released to the public (as in Lizza’s case) and so the public assumes there were no credible details to investigate.

Brzezinski worries that “we are being the judge, the jury and the cops here.” But what she actually seems to want is the authority to be all those things herself, to arbitrate all cases and have authority over the ultimate verdict. That, though, is not due process. Women do not need to convince Mika Brzezinski, or Matt Damon, or hordes of angry men on the internet, that they are telling the truth.

The problem of the #MeToo movement is not that a woman could lie. It’s definitely not that many women might be lying. It’s that people like Brzezinski and Scarborough hear about the systemic abuse and silencing of women, and immediately worry about a man. When it’s a case of he said/she said, the “he” is always believed first. And now that people are actually listening to women, they assume something in the system broke.

(image: YouTube)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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