Listen up, all women! Joe Scarborough—noted television dude—has some thoughts about sexual assault. Specifically, he’s pretty sure he knows the right time for women who’ve say they’ve been attacked by immensely powerful men to come forward with their allegations. And—surprise surprise!—the growing number of women who have publicly accused Donald Trump of unwanted advances over the past 48 hours? According to Joe, they’re doing it all wrong.
On Thursday’s Morning Joe, Scarborough called into question the timing of the recent allegations that Donald Trump does, in fact, do what he bragged about doing on that now-infamous 2005 Access Hollywood tape: Sexually assault women. Scarborough felt there was something odd about when they all came out.
“I think it’s good to be skeptical when you have stories that are 30 years old that come out days before an election,” Scarborough said. “I’m not skeptical at all of the stories. Skeptical of the timing, that all of this has dropped over the past five days. Days out from an election, because doesn’t it seem that a more appropriate time to drop these stories might have been after the first Republican debate when the front and center issue was how badly Donald Trump treats women?” Scarborough insisted.
Not being skeptical of the stories is good! Insisting he knows the right way to report sexual assault? Not so much.
That, unfortunately, is exactly what Scarborough went on to do.
“Now, if this had happened to me 30 years ago, I would say, ‘This would be a really good time for me to come forward,'” he continued. “Right? Right? Instead of now.”
Actually, most of the women who have spoken up have cited the moment during Sunday night’s presidential debate when Trump flatly denied he had committed sexual assault as a key factor in their decision to come forward. “I wanted to punch the screen,” one woman, Jessica Leeds, told the New York Times.
Scarborough complained that his words were being taken out of context. But his quibbles over timing are less concerning then the fact that he is insistent on what he sees as the “right” way to report assault.
It’s a well-documented fact that women often refrain from reporting instances of sexual assault for fear of reprisal, or over worries that they won’t be believed. But Scarborough seems oblivious to those realities. Rather, as a man who has lived the bulk of his adult life in positions of power–as a congressman, and later an influential TV figure—he seems to think reporting sexual assault should be as easy as waking up one morning and saying “This would be a really good time for me to come forward.”
Well, sorry Joe. The world doesn’t work that way.
Believing survivors of sexual assault is important. But, so is giving them the space to tell their stories when, and how, they want.