LALIT publishes below the Communiqué we received from the Women’s Liberation Movement, the MLF.
It is not really a paradox that the Press in the USA, while having so many of its top bosses disgraced for sex abuse in the past two years, has also seen fine journalists from its rank-and-file bravely denouncing and analyzing this very issue. The close proximity in the US press empires of perpetrator bosses and young women who write about such things – once there was a Pres. Donald Trump flaunting his own predatory behavior – made for a dynamic process that is still in action. The Weinstein denunciations that triggered masses of sackings, not only in the movies industry but also in the Press, were interestingly pre-dated by some high profile denunciations within the media – in both the US and Britain.
To give an idea of the seismic scale of events, here is a short list of the top male journalists in the press and TV-Radio in the US fired for sex abuse of different kinds since Trump’s campaign in 2016. There are many more who have been suspended pending investigation, others have resigned without investigations, and yet others still who have not been reported upon, being less well known men. This is a list of men actually fired, or clearly forced to resign. It took an hour or two on the internet for us in the MLF to dig up this list – from multiple sources.
Roger Ailes Fox News CEO fired June 2016 after sexual harassment.
Tom Ashbrook host on 290 National Public Radio Stations, fired by NPRS, Feb 2018.
Eddie Berganza Group Editor of DC Comics, sexual harassment, fired Nov 2017.
Steve Chaggaris CBS News political director fired, Jan 2018.
Paul Bliss fired by CTV after sex abuse reports, Jan 2018.
Mike Germano boss at media outlet VICE, fired for sexual harassment, Jan, 2018.
Mark Halperin top journalist, sexual harassment at ABC, contract ended at NBS, Oct 2017.
John Hockenberry ABC, NBC and NPR icon, sexual harassment, resigned from WNYC Aug 2017; Dec 2017 report makes clear he was fired.
Jamie Horowitz dismissed by Fox News, July 2017, sexual harassment.
Garrison Keillor radio producer/ host fired by Minnesota Public Radio, “improper conduct” with female colleague, Nov 2017.
Johnny Iuzzini ABC host, sexual misconduct, ABC stopped his show Dec 2017.
Knight Landesman Artforum publisher, sexual harassment, resigned Oct 2017, 100 women+ sign letter denouncing him,
Matt Lauer, host The Today Show, fired by NBC, sexual misconduct, Nov 2017
Ryan Lizza star reporter The New Yorker, dismissed Dec 2017.
Leonard Lopate longtime host WNYC, inappropriate conduct, fired Dec 2017.
Rick Najera fired by CBS, sexual harassment, Oct 2017
Bill O’Reilly Presenter on Fox News, AP, fired by Fox News April 2017
Michael Oreskes top editor, Head of News at National Public Radio, disciplined, sexual harassment, suspended, then resigned, Nov 2017.
Charlie Rose television host, sexual harassment. CBS fired Nov 2017.
Johnathan Schwartz longtime host fired by WNYC, Dec 2017.
Tavis Smiley PBS talk show host, fired Dec 2017.
Lockhart Steele, Editorial director at Vox Media, fired Oct 2017
Leon Wiesteltier editor The New Republic, fired Oct 2017 by Emerson Collective.
Matt Zimmerman Vice President for News NBC, sexual harassment, fired Nov 2017.
This revolution against past moral turpitude in the Press has spread like wild-fire to the rest of the world. But in Mauritius not so. While the Press here usually follows international stories generated in news outlets in imperialist countries, rather like a well-trained colonized puppy-dog, in this case it has balked. This is no doubt the result of the conditioned instinct to cover up on this issue. So, sex abuse has not been properly debated in the Press here yet. Sex harassment abroad has not even been properly reported here – not even “lifted” from the international press! Editorialists have steered clear of the subject altogether. Almost banned it. Even when the subject concerns a massive upheaval in their very own sector, the Press!
Indeed in Mauritius, top men in the media empires have a reputation for reluctance to expose sex abuse perpetrated by powerful men. The Press still bows down to the French feudal tradition of droit de cuissage at the work-place. Women journalists are almost all furious, but they have not yet been able to act together.
In fact, the general omerta has only recently begun to lift. But soon the best journalists in the Press here will no doubt begin to do their research and then take up their pens so as to tell truth to power – in their own sector, as well as about predatory men in politics and in big business. Political parties are changing. The PMSD took the lead and the MMM followed in supporting Jessika Rosun. While there were various disciplinary measures taken by ML, MSM, PMSD, and Mouvement Patriotique over the past months.
But, while journalists prepare to expose cases of sex abuse, they should simultaneously read up on how the US investigative journalists have clearly developed a code of ethics that prevents them falling for set-ups, confabulation, empty allegation or vengeful accusation. There are so many good articles in the American Press on the Weinstein case and on the media bosses’ cases that can act as guidelines – and also articles on how the journalists have had difficulty in getting the stories out. There are even articles on how journalists were targeted, for example, by Weinstein’s private detectives, just as the victims of his sexual assault were. Even on cases of women journalists who were fired for reporting sex abuse to their bosses in the Press. Many of the men responsible for firing women for such reports in the past have, this year, been fired, themselves, for sexual harassment.
The first public case of a sex-related offense to come up in the Press in Mauritius, other than the exposing of Jacques Maunick and former Senior News Editor Ambernath Mossae - both at the MBC - is, to our knowledge, the very serious affidavit signed by a top woman journalist at L’Express against her ex-boss (he has since resigned), who is also her ex-partner, the Director of Publications of L’Express Nad Sivaramen, while calling for him to be barred from seeing their 3-year old child. Journalists at L’Express, starting with Touria Prayag (6 April), then Axel Cheney (7 April) and then editorialist who signs KC Ranzé (8 April), have all had difficulty dealing with the issue. Having got used to covering up sex abuse cases against powerful men, they can’t quite get out of the habit. They can’t yet, as journalists, treat it as they treat any other criminal offense. And this particular case is so serious, so troubling, so acute that they are completely at a loss.
Touria Prayag takes up the defense of the whole L’Express empire from the point of view of the bosses and of the man standing accused. She makes out that the “shock” she suffers is worse for L’Express top cadres than it would be for other people. She calls, rightly, on the enemies of L’Express not to gloat. But she does not have the courage to name the principal gloater, Pravind Jugnauth. And she does not mention that L’Express has taken its own version of investigative journalism into the realm of children playing a gloating game, with programs like Menteur, Menteur! against Jugnauth’s allies. L’Express, including Nad Sivaramen personally, also published the affidavit of a man who was a fantastic confabulator in their denunciation of a Minister, who rightly resigned. The Press recognized its error in lending credence to him. When Touria Prayag then compares her ex-boss Nad Sivaramen favourably to a host of MSM politicians, the pettiness and game-playing only continues. And then, as if to cover for her support to Nad Sivaramen, she calls the complainant Audrey Harelle “an exemplary colleague”, and goes on to vow that, “if the allegations turn out to be true, we won’t find it in us to forgive him [Nad Sivaramen] ever”! It is as if Touria Prayag is trapped in the feudal mind-set of vacillating between excusing sex abuse and lynching perpetrators. This pretense that there are only two choices – to cover up sex abuse or to lynch the perpetrator – is what upholds patriarchy, and what imprisons women in silence.
Axel Cheyney whose main concern is that now, L’Express top staff having been so brave as to slay giants in the past, now, when they denounce anyone, they will be sure to get some énergumène who will say, “Al anket lor zot sef pedofil”. And so the game continues. Even in the face of an affidavit that is so grave. And, worse still, given the generalized silence of the Mauritian press on the subject of sexual harassment and assault at the work-place, and having never ever having exposed sexual harassment by Press bosses, the énergumène will not be as far-fetched as he would otherwise be for such a comment.
KC Ranzé replies directly to Pravind Jugnauth, denouncing him for saying that, while the Press “pe donn leson moralite, zot pa’nn get zot dan laglas”, which happens to be true, even if it is an unfeeling, petty riposte on the part of a Prime Minister. It goes without saying that, as in all cases of criminal offences, the decision as to whether there is enough evidence to find someone guilty is the work of the Courts.
But the silence of the Mauritian Press about the whole revolution taking place – finally denouncing age-old sexual harassment at work – is shocking. The Press has not noticed that, for the first time in history, the patriarchal hierarchies that permit sex abuse at work, in the first place, are being exposed to the light of the sun. The Press has not noticed that, for the first time in history, the Boards of whole organizations (Oxfam and Medecins sans Frontiers) are standing accused as employers of covering up sexual harassment. They have not noticed that, in New York State, the Board members at Weinstein’s firm are individually under criminal charges for aiding and abetting sex abuse by their silence and by their non-action.
It has finally begun to become a question of personal, social and political morality: if the Press, or other bosses, refuse to expose a man who abuses and harasses women at work (as they expose other physical violence), this constitutes complicity with the abuse of more young women – generations of women – by this man. And if the Press, or other bosses, continue to give an audience to the perpetrator, continue to accord him power, then, it is more than complicity, it constitutes aiding and abetting.
for the Muvman Liberasyon Fam
13 April, 2018.
Edited, at MLF request, by adding former Senior News Editor at MBC, Ambernath Mossae.