When the leader of the free world endorses someone who is a serial sexual harasser it is tantamount to giving sexual predators not just permission, but encouragement, to misbehave. Yesterday Donald Trump told the New York Times about allegations against Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, “Personally I think he shouldn’t have settled...I don’t think Bill did anything wrong. I think he’s a person I know well. He is a good person.”
In my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I discuss how absolutely critical it is to alter the attitudes of organizational leaders in order to create psychologically healthy, safe, fair and inclusive workplaces. But for this to happen, and the bullying and abuse to end, the entire organization requires a major shift in attitude. Trump, with his endorsement of O’Reilly, has destroyed any shift that has taken place in recent years.
I don’t buy O’Reilly’s claim that the lack of complaints to human resources over the last 20 years means that allegations are baseless. With Roger Ailes as boss, what would be the point to put in a complaint? The fear factor outweighed the O’Reilly Factor when it came to seeking justice.
Clearly, sexual predators like O’Reilly, Trump, Ailes and Bill Cosby are from a generation that sees women as objects. The New York Times pointed out that O’Reilly’s “hectoring braggadocio and no-apologies nostalgia for a bygone American era mirror Mr. Trump’s own.”
They have become the worst kind of role models—symbols not just of privilege, but of disrespect and even harm for women. It’s particularly surprising for someone of this ilk dotes on his own daughter, Ivanka. And yet Trump’s track record speaks volumes about his disregard for women. From his disparagement of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, to his multiple settlements against sexual harassment claims, to his well known fraternization with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Trump is no different than Ailes and O’Reilly.
I believe that Trump’s endorsement of O’Reilly might be one comment too many when it comes to reelection and may even make Russiagate pale in comparison. When you examine his comments to Billy Bush, his support of Roger Ailes and his recent comments about O’Reilly, I predict he has painted himself into a corner as a sexual predator that will end his political career.
Photo credit: The Daily Beast/Reuters