After a slow start, the media has its designated bad guy at the Winter Olympics. No sooner had Shaun White won the half-pipe than he became the snowboarding version of Harvey Weinstein.
Stories surfaced of sexual harassment allegations made against White in 2016. Reporters went into full #MeToo mode, repeating salacious details from a lawsuit filed by Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer in White’s rock band.
White’s dark background suddenly became the Big Story. I’m not here to defend White. If he did what was alleged, it is indefensible.
I’m just wondering why the selective outrage?
When it comes to dark backgrounds, the gold, silver and bronze medals at Pyeongchang all go to Kim Yo Jong. She is the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, though from media reports you might only know her as “The Ivanka Trump of North Korea.”
Yeah, she’s just like the president’s daughter except for the death camps, the mass enslavement, the public executions, the starvation of her people, the torture and murder of U.S. student Otto Warmbier and the threats to turn California into a nuclear wasteland.
Granted, Kim did not personally force the woman to drown her baby in a bucket. Nor did she rub a lethal nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam, the dictator’s half-brother who was assassinated at a Kuala Lumpur airport last year.
But Ivanka, I mean Kim, is an alternate member of the North Korean Politburo, which rubberstamps every move her Dear Leader brother makes. The U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted her last year for “notorious abuses of human rights.”
Such is life when your day job is Deputy Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Worker’s Party of Korea.
How’s that for a title?
It probably took a team of political prisoners a week just to make one of her business cards.
Kim is neck deep in all of North Korea’s behavior. You’d have never guessed that from the media reviews when she hit Pyeongchang.
“Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics,” gushed a CNN column.
The New York Times marveled over her enigmatic smile and deft diplomatic touch. Media gushed about her fitness and freckles.
White is also rather fit and has freckles. As for his misdeeds, he admitted sending texts to Zawaideh but denied her other allegations.
Frankly, I don’t believe him. Fortunately for the accused, we live in a country where they are given the presumption of innocence until they get due process.
These days, an allegation of sexual misconduct is almost as good as a conviction. I’m all for #MeToo’s goal of holding men in power accountable when they sexually harass anyone.
But how about powerful women when they promote genocide?
After being completely nonjudgmental about Ms. Kim and glossing over her past, the media jury had no problem rendering a verdict on the snowboarding dude.
“As Shaun White cements legacy, why so little attention paid to sexual harassment allegation?” USA Today asked.
That’s a question media should answer.
The lawsuit was filed two years ago in open court. It was settled last April. All the details have been out there as the Weinstein aftershocks rumbled.
I wouldn’t expect the butt-kissers at NBC to delve into the story, but there was plenty of time for everyone else to make it part of the White media narrative heading into Pyeongchang.
It wasn’t a big deal to them until Wednesday, when White won the 100th gold medal in U.S. Winter Olympic history.
At the press conference afterward, White foolishly called the allegations “gossip.” He cut out before answering other questions about the lawsuit.
He quickly tried to clean up that mess on the Today Show with the standard mealy-mouthed apology/let’s-move-on routine.
“Nothing Happened to Shaun White” wailed the headline at Deadspin.
What did people expect would happen?
Was the IOC going to take back the gold medal? Was White going to break down and admit he’s a letch?
Deadspin’s conclusion was that the powers that be just want to “preserve the status quo where women learn to keep quiet about harassment.”
Speaking of which, Kim returned Wednesday to a country where everybody learns to keep quiet about harassment, slavery, starvation and using anti-aircraft guns to execute people who step out of line.
The Olympian gush-fest will only strengthen that status quo.
Kim got a media pass. White got the media treatment.
Instead of harassing an American female, maybe he should have just drowned a North Korean baby.