Editorial: Sexual misconduct’s double standard

Miami Herald

By the time you read this, there’ll probably be yet another powerful man — or two, or three — dethroned, cast out because of serious allegations of sexual misbehavior with subordinates. Wednesday, Americans awoke to the tweets, Facebook posts and Savannah Guthrie’s catch-in-her-throat announcement that Matt Lauer, reigning host of “Today,” was sent packing.

NBC tried mightily to get out ahead of upcoming stories of his sexual misconduct on the job, allegations of lewd talk, prying into women’s sex lives, gifting unwanted sex toys, showing off his thingy — the usual. But it was too late. His womanizing apparently was an open secret to some, and it’s alleged that anyone with the authority to confront him would not do so. Women, anonymously, said they couldn’t get a hearing. Lauer was the powerful rainmaker and, therefore, untouchable. Until this week.

And the garrulous Garrison Keillor, former host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” aired on NPR stations, was fired Tuesday by Minnesota Public Radio for alleged misconduct.

A lot of other men have paid big time, too, losing positions of power, public trust and reputation. And deservedly so. But when the miscreants serve in Congress, turns out that Americans are paying big time, too. And that’s where taxpayers should draw the line. Buzzfeed reported last week that, in 2015, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers, now 88 and one of the lions of Congress, paid more than $27,000 to settle a sexual harassment complaint against him. Only Conyers didn’t pay, we did.

The payout money came from a hush-hush bureaucratic process that Congress uses to handle harassment claims. In addition, lawmakers who are accused of misconduct get free legal representation, courtesy of the House counsel.

If the point is to punish misbehavior, picking taxpayers’ pockets to pay up misses the mark.

Miami Herald

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