Month: May 2018
My Dachshund and I were cruising up West End Avenue yesterday when we spotted a crowd on the next block. People were clogging the sidewalk, and trucks equipped with satellite gear were lining the streets. I wondered what a media circus was doing in the neighborhood.
We advanced toward the mob, propelled by my curiosity and the dog’s inbred urge to chase down badgers. I buttonholed a man cradling a video recorder.
“What’s the fuss about?” I asked.
“Schneiderman lives here,” he said.
No other questions were necessary. Every local news outlet had dispatched a crew for a perp watch outside the apartment house which Eric Schneiderman calls home. Schneiderman is the newly disgraced and resigned New York Attorney General, brought down Monday by four outspoken victims of his alleged domestic violence.
Schneiderman had made a perfunctory denial of the charges, claiming that the sex, however twisted, was consensual. His naturally bemused resting face underscored that he could not believe his own words.
Within a few hours after his statement, Schneiderman walked out of public service. The calculus was clear. There would be no redemption. His physical attacks were allegedly fueled by drunken rage and threats. It didn’t take much to make him walk the plank; it was consensual.
All this had been decided before Tuesday morning. Nevertheless, tan army of professional voyeurs, equipped with cams, video cams and microphones, wirelessly connected to their 21st Century food trucks, was now camping out on an otherwise quiet street.
“What’s the point? He’s already quit and is under investigation. There’s no story here. ‘No comment’ is the most you’ll get,” I said.
Nothing quickened the pulse of a local news director like cornering a wounded pol walking in and out of his home, and broadcasting it every twenty minutes.
“Hey, it’s our job. They assigned us here,” said one guy.
“Wouldn’t it be better to cover something that isn’t over yet?”
“They pay us. We need the money.”
The gang and gear and trucks were still there when we took our afternoon walk.
“Did you get anything?” I asked.
“No, he hasn’t gone out,” said one crew member.
“Or come in,” said another. The impression being that they’d been on this stretch of pavement all day and had nothing to show for it. So much for the glamour of TV news.
This grotesquerie drives ratings, which in turn drive sales and profit. The wall between news and entertainment is long collapsed, time out of mind.
Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer of the New Yorker quietly assembled unassailable facts, charging New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman with sexual violence based on corroborated statements of four victims. The New Yorker published the story Monday evening. Before the clock struck midnight, Schneiderman resigned his post after Governor Andrew Cuomo demanded him to quit.
The Schneiderman takedown was remarkable for a number of reasons.
—His Office led the fight to bring Harvey Weinstein to justice and was a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement. He was investigating Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr., for pulling his punches in his Weinstein investigation. Vance is returning the favor by opening a criminal investigation on Schneiderman.
—Along with other Blue State AGs, he was positioning his office to challenge the Trump regime by challenging action that disproportionately affected New York.
—He was a fierce critic of Trumpism and marshaled the resources of his Department against its agenda.
—His office went after Trump University, based on the complaints of former students, and settled the suit for $25 million.
—His office spearheaded challenges to federal environmental rollbacks by notorious Scott Pruitt.
What stands out most is that the movement to end sexual predation and violence against women is taking down its alleged male allies. Progressive politicians aligned with the movement squirmed when Al Franken’s number was pulled, albeit for violations less serious or well-supported than the brief against Schneiderman.
Democrats who agonized over Franken’s loss in the U.S. Senate did not skip a beat over Schneiderman’s fall. Sure, the acts are lurid, and the charges look solid. Still, progressives must force resignations of their miscreants or face rancor within their own ranks. The swiftness of his ouster may have been accelerated by vote-counting in the New York legislature, where Democratic control likely will replace the outgoing AG with a like-minded successor.