Newt Gingrich: You are fascinated with sex, and you don’t care about public policy.
Megyn Kelly: Me, really?
Newt Gingrich: That’s what I get out of watching you tonight.
Megyn Kelly: You know what, Mr. Speaker? I’m not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by the protection of women and understanding what we’re getting in the Oval Office, and I think the American people would like to know…”
There’s a clip going around of Megyn Kelly and Newt Gingrich sparring over the sexual harassment accusations levied at Donald Trump. I saw it retweeted on my timeline several times, but I was hesitant to watch it for several reasons. One, I have a hard time watching people defend sexual harassment, and I was sure Gingrich was going to attempt to do that. Two, it’s Fox. I don’t watch Fox if i can possibly help it. Three, I loathe Gingrich for many reasons, some of which I’ll delve into later. In short, I didn’t think I’d be able to watch it with equanimity. What changed my mind? Seeing several people marvel at how Megyn Kelly handled Gingrich. I decided to watch it.
It went about as I expected, at least on Newt Gingrich’s side. He was pompous and patronizing, interrupting Kelly several times. When he couldn’t interrupt her, he simply talked over her. It’s something very common to dudes–talking over women and interrupting them, I mean. Side note: I did a simple study for my Gender and Psychology class in college in which I sat in on four classes. One was a male-dominated class (math). Two were neutral classes (can’t remember what they were), and one was my own Gender and Psychology class. In these classes, I didn’t say anything. I simply observed who interrupted whom and made a tally. The results were startling and depressing. Men interrupted men; men interrupted women; women interrupted women, but women never interrupted men. Even when the teacher was a woman (such as my Gender and Psychology class), they didn’t interrupt their male students. I expected to find that women rarely interrupted men, but never? That was a sobering discovery. Obviously, it’s a really rough sample and a crude study, but I would bet it’s not far off the mark. There have been legitimate studies on this subject, and it’s clear that men interrupt women more than they interrupt men. Women also interrupt women more than they do men. The jury is out as to the reason (including geographical difference in speech patterns, a play for dominance, and establishment of intimacy); indeed, it may be different reasons in different situations.
When it comes to the political talking bobble-heads, however, it’s pretty clear that it’s a sign of dominance. Watch the video above the fold as Gingrich blusters and bloviates in an attempt to intimidate Kelly. It’s easy to tell that Kelly is getting pissed, but she manages to rein in her temper and keep at Gingrich. He tries the narcissist’s tried-and-true tactic of deflecting the blame back on to the other person by bringing up Bill Clinton, but Kelly is having none of that bullshit. As Gingrich demands that she says Bill Clinton is a sexual predator*, she firmly states that she has covered Bill Clinton’s sexual harassment charges as well, but he’s not the one on the ticket. Gingrich won’t shut up about Bill Clinton,** but Kelly is not fooled into going down the Bill Clinton side path. She points out that he’s not on the ticket and that women are concerned with the man who is–Donald Trump. Gingrich blusters some more, but Kelly cuts him off, ending the section. The last thing she says to him is, “We’re going to have to leave it at that and you can take your anger issues and spend some time working on them, Mr. Speaker. Thanks for being here.” He automatically replies, “And you, too.”
Kelly put the hurt on Gingrich, and I have to give her credit for being unflinching as she went after him. Sadly, it’s probably because she’s had her own run in with a sexual predator–Roger Ailes–but for once, she stood up for her moral principles. I don’t agree with Kelly about much of anything, but she’s not a stupid woman (she’s a lawyer), and here, she shows that she’s more than just a mouthpiece for right-wing talking points. The anger in her voice as she verbally cuts Gingrich to shreds is palpable–and genuine. Too often, the anger the anchors of Fox display is so fakey, it’s almost embarrassing to watch. This time, it was clearly real. As someone who is adept at biting down on my anger, I recognized it immediately. Gingrich was displaying faux outrage as he so often does, which only angered Kelly even further. Sexual harassment is very real and damaging to countless women,*** and it was offensive to watch Gingrich smirk his way through defending Trump. Gingrich, who served his wife with divorce papers as she was dying in the hospital from cancer so he could be with his mistress. Birds of a feather flock together, which is why it’s not surprising that Gingrich and Giuliani are Trump’s last defense. They’re all pompous, narcissistic, adulterous, arrogant, entitled assholes who think they’re much smarter than they actually are.
I never understood people saying Gingrich is smart and wonky. He’s not stupid, but he’s not smart. Maybe they mean it in comparison with other congresspeople, but I think that’s being a bit mean to the other congress members. I know he prides himself on being ‘thinky’, but it doesn’t go very deep. Basically, he’s for everything that benefits him and against anything that doesn’t. I don’t know why he’s backing Trump, though, unless it’s because he thinks he’s going to have a place in a Trump administration. Even if that’s the case, a smart man would realize that even if Trump were to become president (ARGH!), being in his administration would be hellish. Can you imagine working for a man like Trump? Moody, raging, megalomaniacal. One day he’d love you, the next day, he’d fire you. But, Gingrich hasn’t been relevant for decades, so I can see him scrambling desperately for his last shot at being somebody (in his mind). I think Giuliani is on the same track, and I hope both of them are relegated to oblivion after Trump loses (please, please, please).
The thing that impressed me the most with Kelly’s handling of Gingrich is that she never let him wrest control of the interview. Clearly, his intention was to get them talking about Bill Clinton and his indignation that she didn’t care about that as much as she did about Trump. She neatly deflected by saying she had already covered Bill Clinton, just as she said she’d covered the latest Hillary Clinton ‘scandal’ after Gingrich brought it up. Now, to be honest, she’s usually aiding and abetting right-wingers as they try this bullshit, so it’s not surprising that she’s particularly adept in dealing with it, but still. It’s not easy to stay the course with someone who’s an expert in derailing. He tried so hard to get her to have to either defend Bill Clinton or publicly denounce hem, thus deflecting from Trump’s transgressions, but she declined to do either. She handled him perfectly, as evidenced by him getting increasing agitated and dickish as the interview continued. I’m sure he expected her to be a fawning sycophant as she has been in the past, but not this time, Newt!
Here’s the thing. He had every reason to believe that the Trump accusations would blow over in a day or so because no one has talked about them before this. It’s not as if they haven’t been known before this. I have known of at least three serious accusations, including one from his ex-wife, Ivanka, since the beginning of the election. The most serious is that he raped a thirteen-year old girl, and there has been a case filed against him. There will be a hearing for the case in December–well after the election is over. You would think this would be talked about in the news more often than never, but you would be wrong. My guess is because Trump is notoriously litigious, they were afraid to bring forward any allegations without three forms of backup. Still. you’d think the fact that a presidential candidate was being accused of raping a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL would have garnered SOME attention. When women talk about rape culture, this is part of it. Roger Ailes systematically sexually harassed women for half a century, and it wasn’t until Gretchen Carlson stood up**** that he suffered any repercussion for it. Look at Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi as well. In the case of all four men, once one woman came forward, several others soon followed. I remember someone who knew Ghomeshi in college talking about how he was an RA (or whatever is the Canadian equivalent), and everyone knew to tell the first year students to stay away from him. There are at least 48 accusers against Cosby, and they date back to 1965. He, too, has been molesting women for fifty years, and while the stories were always out there, they never really gained traction until Hannibal Buress, a comedian, did a searing bit about him. Then, the accusations came pouring out, which makes sense because a sexual predator is a sexual predator for life. It’s one of the hardest deviant behaviors to change, and most sexual predators don’t think there’s anything wrong with them–as evident by Trump’s blustering and blathering about how no one respects women as much as he does.
There are people who still defend him, but not as many as I would have thought. I think it’s because they reluctantly supported him in the first place (party before nation!), holding their noses as they did. He’s crass and vulgar, and part of politics is knowing whose palms to grease and how to make backroom deals. With Trump, what you see is what you get, He doesn’t do nuance and he doesn’t do finesse. The ones who do support him through this all, I give a massive side eye to and wonder what kind of unsavory sexual behavior we’d find in their pasts. It’s also depressing how many Trump supporters, including women, say that this is just locker room talk (parroting Trump) and that all guys say what he did–in the leaked tapes in which he talks about grabbing women by the pussy. Here’s the thing. Most guys do talk about what women they’d like to bang or hook up with, but that’s not the problem. The problem is the ‘grab them by the pussy’ part (personally, I think many people were just shocked at how baldly he put it). He followed it up by saying when you’re a star, they let you do anything. In other words, he admitted on tape that he’s sexually assaulted women. He also talked about how he had to kiss a beautiful woman–he just couldn’t help himself.
People questioned why women started coming forward now. It’s because he denied that he actually did what he said he did on tape. In other words, he was lying his fucking face off, and his victims weren’t having any. I cannot tell you how difficult it is to come forward. Despite what some people think, there is nothing to be gained by accusing someone of sexual assault. Your life is ripped apart, and people question everything you say and do. There is no other crime for which the victim is more on trial than is the perpetrator than sexual assault, and it takes a strong person to weather the attacks on her personal character and morality. That’s why I applaud anyone who does it, no matter if we’re on the same political team or not. When it comes to sexual assault, the victims come from all over the spectrum, and I stand by any one of them, if only in this cause. I’m hoping that sexual harassment will be taken more seriously, but I’m doubtful. Still. At least we’re finally talking about Trump’s transgressions, even if it’s too little, too late.
*What is he, twelve? “I dare you to say it! I double dare you!”
**Just like when he was the speaker of the house and Bill Clinton was president. What happened next? Oh, right. Gingrich had to resign because he had a problem with ethics–namely, he doesn’t have any. I do have concerns about Bill Clinton, which I’ve written about before, but that doesn’t mean that Trump is off the hook for his own horrible behavior.
***And men. I’m talking specifically about women in this instance, though.
****Also have to give Gretchen Carlson mad props for coming forward. It couldn’t have been easy, but because of her, countless women will be spared the same traumatic situation.