A look at the Wheeling News-Register’s hypocrisy on sexual harassment (with 12/8 update)
Coverage of a black Democrat (Conyers) vs. a white Republican (Farenthold)
Here are some excerpts from three recent Wheeling News-Register editorials on Democratic Congressman John Conyers from Michigan:
From the Monday, Nov 27 editorial titled
“If Guilty, Conyers Should Be Removed”
According to the News-Register:
Using the power conferred upon one by voters to harass women sexually is reason enough to be dismissed from Congress. Add to that using taxpayers’ money in attempt to cover up wrongdoing, and the case for removal is ironclad.
The News-Register tells us that fellow lawmakers should investigate and if true, Conyers “should be booted off Capitol Hill.”
In 2015, his office allegedly paid $27,000 to quiet complaints by a woman who said she was fired for rejecting Conyers’ advances. If true, that allegation alone would be enough to kick him out of the House.
On Friday, Dec 1, the editorial tells us
“Take Formal Steps Against Conyers”
We are told that because Conyers had not stepped down, “members of the House Ethics Committee should hold public hearings on allegations against him as soon as possible.” The $27,000 settlement figure is again mentioned.
And yesterday we are told
"Investigate Conyers Despite Resignation”
Apparently getting him to resign is no longer enough for the News-Register – he needs to be fully investigated.
Beyond the editorials, a search of Wheeling “newspapers” yields 23 articles that mention John Conyers since November 22.
And here is the story on Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold from Texas. Politico was the first to report this last Friday:
Rep. Blake Farenthold used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former spokesman — the only known sitting member of Congress to have used a little-known congressional account to pay an accuser, people familiar with the matter told POLITICO.
Lauren Greene, the Texas Republican’s former communications director, sued her boss in December 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.
Greene said another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene. She also claimed that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her in February 2014 that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”
When she complained about comments Farenthold and a male staffer made to her, Greene said the congressman improperly fired her. She filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, but the case was later dropped after both parties reached a private settlement.
The settlement paid by the government, according to Politico and a number of sources, was for $84,000.
The Associated Press, which is the local papers’ source for national news, started covering the story that evening. However, if you type “Farenhold” into the Wheeling “newspapers” online search engine nothing comes up – not a single mention of him anywhere in either paper.
Final thoughts: the News-Register editorials (three of them in a two-week period) accuse Conyers of sexual harassment and using public money ($27,000) to cover up wrong. On the other hand, neither paper has said one word editorially about Farenthold or his use of public money ($84,000). Despite similar stories, what could possibly be the difference between Conyers and Farenhold that could justify major coverage for one and no coverage for the other? How about that Conyers is a black Democrat and Farenhold is a white Republican?
Updates - December 8
It should be noted that the morning Intelligencer published the first third of an AP article on Farenhold on page 6 one week after the story broke. Among information not included in the Intelligencer version was the $84,000 amount paid by the government.
A number of news sources reported early last evening that conservative Republican Representative Trent Franks was resigning:
According to a statement, Franks will leave Congress on January 31, 2018. Earlier on Thursday, the Associated Press reported on Franks' decision to resign, citing two Republican consultants who spoke on condition of anonymity.
News of Franks' resignation came, as the House Ethics Committee issued a statement on Thursday that it will establish an Investigative Subcommittee to determine whether Franks engaged in conduct that "constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct."
Needless to say, this did not make the morning paper.
What did make the morning editorial page, however, was another Conyers reference:
Behavior such as that in the headlines involving Conyers, Franken and many others will not end until predators understand no one will protect them for any reason — simply because what they do is wrong.
Of course in the case of Ogden Newspapers, exceptions for Republican congressmen and a certain Republican president apply.