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Sexual Harassment Allegations in Media, Politics in 2017

The Media Is Finally Punishing Sexual Harassment — It's Time For Washington to Do the Same

Allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct have surfaced on a near-daily basis over the last few weeks. As a result, an ever-growing number of ultrapowerful men have been removed from their positions in a whole range of professions. Thanks to the phenomenally brave victims who have come forward to tell their stories, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, we're seeing a reckoning — one that doesn't care what his excuse is or just how sorry he may be. Finally, there's a sense of justice being applied to a formerly unfair world — unless, of course, we're talking about politics.

As reporter Ana Navarro pointed out on Twitter on Nov. 29, despite the fact that a growing number of individuals have shared their painful, harrowing stories with the world, there's no punishment being doled out to those individuals who are involved in politics. "Matt Lauer lost his job. Mark Halperin lost his job. Glenn Thrush lost his job. Harvey Weinstein lost his job. Kevin Spacey lost his job," she wrote. "But in politics . . . Conyers still in Congress. Moore still running. Trump still President." What we all need to be asking ourselves right now is just why that is.

In The Atlantic, Julian Zelizer points to a systemic failure as the root cause of a lack of recourse in Washington. "The last time Congress faced a moment of reckoning like this, it failed to pass strict rules governing sexual harassment that would ensure accountability. That is why we are where we are today," he wrote, adding, "Rules, regulations, and enforcement are the only mechanisms that can revolutionize what work is like in the House and Senate, and make sure that the kinds of improprieties becoming public on a daily basis finally become a thing of the past."

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While Zelizer may have the right idea, it's the hard questions that come out of scrutinizing incidents such as these that seem to have the so-called swamp stumped. "Should all politicians accused of sexual harassment resign? Or is an apology sufficient? Has our tribal politics infected this story, with Democrats and Republicans defending their own ranks?" Meet the Press pondered on air and in print, going one step further and asking, "Is it justifiable to support an accused child molester winning a Senate contest to keep the other party from winning it? And what does this entire story say about the current president of the United States, who has been accused of misconduct by more than a dozen women?"

There are no easy answers here, but that doesn't mean that we can stop pushing for the truth to come out, for crimes to punished. At the end of the day, it does not matter who you are, what party you represent, or how powerful your donors may be. Inappropriate sexual contact or suggestion of any kind should never be tolerated — and it's up to us, as the American people, to press our political system to recognize that fact.

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