The story broken by the New York Times today that revealed Hillary Clinton protected a male staffer accused of sexual harassment during her 2008 campaign against President Obama does not look good for the former first lady and Secretary of State. However, it is important to keep perspective on the story and avoid the predictable onslaught from the right wing media, the beltway punditry and leftist militants using it to further their shopworn narrative that Hillary Clinton is “just as bad” as Donald Trump and the most evil person to have ever lived. The Times reported the following:
A senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young subordinate was kept on the campaign at Mrs. Clinton’s request, according to four people familiar with what took place.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager at the time recommended that she fire the adviser, Burns Strider. But Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling, and the young woman was moved to a new job.
Mr. Strider, who was Mrs. Clinton’s faith adviser, a co-founder of the American Values Network, and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.
He was fired after several months for workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to Correct the Record’s management.
Let’s get this out of the way first: there is no positive way to look at this story for Democrats and supporters of Hillary Clinton. The fact that Clinton did not fire Strider shows a lack of moral courage on her part, and she should apologize for her mistake. That being said, Strider is not a rapist and did not sexually assault anyone — he was just a creep who engaged in inappropriate behavior. The Times report went on:
The complaint against Mr. Strider was made by a 30-year-old woman who shared an office with him. She told a campaign official that Mr. Strider had rubbed her shoulders inappropriately, kissed her on the forehead and sent her a string of suggestive emails, including at least one during the night, according to three former campaign officials familiar with what took place.
Clearly Strider should have been fired for his clearly terrible behavior, but his actions were not criminal and Clinton did not do anything illegal. However you wouldn’t know that by looking at the media’s reaction to the story:
WP reporter on CNN just claimed the Hillary Clinton story today abt her **2008** campaign could have deep implications for Democrats in **2020**
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) January 26, 2018
REPORT: Hillary Clinton PROTECTED Top Staffer Accused of Sexual Misconduct in 2008 https://t.co/fIfGAJd2AB
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) January 26, 2018
it's almost as if framing Hillary as the unimpeachably feminist candidate was a branding exercise devoid of empirical evidence https://t.co/syGS9BQyXB
— Natalie Shure (@nataliesurely) January 26, 2018
The notion that Clinton can no longer claim to be a feminist is or represent women in their struggles to gain equal footing in society, well, ridiculous. Like everyone, Clinton is a flawed human being with a history of making some bad decisions. Yes, she should have fired Strider, but this hardly makes her an evil person and hardly detracts from her historic bid to become the first female president of the United States.
It is also worth pointing out that that this story is about as relevant to the national discourse as Joe Biden’s TV habits are. Hillary Clinton is not the president, is not running for president, is not an active politician and has little to do with anything. It is 2018, not 2016, and the media attention directed at her over this story is yet another distraction from the fact that there is a genuine sexual predator in the White House who likely colluded with a foreign government to upend American democracy and tried on multiple occasions to obstruct the course of justice.
But by all means, lets shift the story to Hillary Clinton and the “both sides” narrative so we can make the same mistakes in the midterms this year as we did in 2016. Because it’s all working out so well, right?
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.