Lots Of Smoke

Wednesday night I had a chance to settle down in front of the television for a few hours. Earlier that day there was a report of a woman who claimed to be in a Donald Trump “sponsored” teen beauty pageant years ago where Trump walked in on her and her fellow contestants while they were in various state of undress including in some cases fully naked. As the evening wore on reports of several other women accusing Trump of fondling and/or making unwanted, uninvited advances broke. By the time the clock struck 11pm the total number of reported incidents for the day had risen to 5 and it was time for me to shut off the television and go to sleep. Let’s take a look at the factors around this rash of reports.

Last Friday David Farenthold of the Washington Post broke the story of the now infamous Access Hollywood tape. In it Trump bragged of kissing and groping women at will and with impunity. During Sunday night’s debate Anderson Cooper continuous pressed him on the point of having said he committed sexual assaults. Trump buried a denial of the actions he bragged of in some convoluted “answer”. So either Trump lied to Billy Bush or he lied about his actions. At that point it was a you are the judge situation.

As of this writing four women have come forward (with no apparent coordination, in fact a seemingly lack thereof) with stories of unwanted advances from Trump involving kissing or groping. These reports came from the New York Times, People Magazine and the Palm Beach Post. I must admit to unfamiliarity with the Florida publication, but the other two are known to employ a cadre of libel attorneys and do not make a habit of publishing things they cannot defend in court. In fact the New York Times is the world’s most influential newspaper.

The motivation to come forward appears to be universal in each case. The women became angry when Trump denied actions they had been on the receiving end of. If you believe their stories he outright lied about his sexual assaults on women to Anderson Cooper and the millions watching. In his “defense” he told the truth to Billy Bush.

Now that brings up a key question of whether or not we believe these women. In each case they had told people close to them almost immediately after the alleged incidents but chose not to go public because they felt powerless against someone as wealthy and famous as Trump. That falls in line with Trump’s admission to Billy Bush that he could get away with such actions.

Another reasonable question is why the delay between Sunday and Wednesday (the delay of years between the incident and the report was already explained). Let’s accept the women’s stories for a moment. They listened to Sunday’s debate and felt violated all over again. Monday morning you contact a news outfit. Perhaps by as early as that afternoon you sit down with a reporter. The reporter takes the raw story to an editor who brings the Legal Department into the picture. Tuesday and part of Wednesday is needed to authenticate the story to the point the news organization is confident that it is legitimate and publishes it. That is called responsible journalism; something Trump and his Breitbart advisors know nothing about. Outside the Donald Dome right wing mythology is not synonymous with truth.

I expect more women to come forward with similar stories. One of the things bullies rely on is the sense of aloneness and helplessness their victims feel. I was very difficult for the first few to come out; it will be much easier for those who inevitably will follow them.

Are some of these stories embellished or false? It is reasonable to at least ask that question. This has moved well beyond a he said/she said situation; it is now a he said/they said situation and there are a lot of them. Are they all total malarkey? I cannot reach that conclusion. Where there is this much smoke I have to believe there is fire.

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