HLN’s S.E. Cupp devoted her one-hour “Unfiltered” program Thursday night to sexual harassment — and she began with three experiences of her own.
Her all-female panel felt more like therapy as the women opened up and shared hard stories about what men in their workplaces as well as on the street have said and done that left them feeling helpless and demeaned.
Large screens of the late Fox News President Roger Ailes and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein flashed on large screens in the background with the words “Enough!” on them.
Some accounts struck a slightly humorous tone. Like CNN “New Day” host Alisyn Camerota, who shared about famous newsman cracking, “What are we today, an Italian sex kitten?”
She was 22 and working for a “very famous newsman” as a desk assistant. Many other famous newsmen would come to the office and said inappropriate things about how she looked. When she informed a male editor, he said the aforementioned remark was as much an ethnic slur as much as a sexual one. She went to an executive producer, who told her, “Choose your battles very carefully, that’s my advice to you.”
Camerota suggested that for her the show was less therapeutic and more a “public service” for every woman out there.
Cupp’s own stories were difficult, but she said she had dozens more and not enough time on a one-hour program to share them all. “I’m betting if you’re watching, one of these stories will resonate with you,” she told viewers.
“One, an anchor grabbed my ass,” she said.
Another: she was on set with a senator who grabbed her thigh under the table while on camera.
The last one: On her first day at a new network, she was doing a remote hit. She put her earpiece in. A male anchor in another location informed her in her ear that he had a nickname for her.
“Welcome S.E., I just want you to know, I’ve been calling you C-cup around the office,” he said. “I thought, ‘You’re an idiot. What an idiot. You’re mic-ed. I’m mic-ed. You’re saying this in an earpiece and I’m pretty sure that was just sexual harrassment.’ I said, ‘No it’s not ok that you do that.’ And I didn’t laugh at the joke that he thought would be funny and I avoided him.”
She refused to ever work with him again. She said she knows not every woman in the TV business has that luxury.
The other three women on the panel were The Daily Beast‘s Erin Gloria Ryan, criminal defense attorney Midwin Charles, a contributor to Essence Magazine, and Christine Brennan, a sports columnist for USA Today and a TV commentator on ABC, CNN, PBS and NPR. Ryan shared a memory from her time in the comedy business.
Her memory was one that involved that involved her legs. She was a writer for a comedy TV show. She was at a shoot with a male comedian and was wearing tights. He kept messing up his lines. He eventually said, “I can’t do it with her in here, her legs keep distracting me.”
Charles, the attorney, shared a more potentially violent encounter of a man she encountered on the street in broad daylight.
He was a typical guy who said, “Hey how ya doin’?” She ignored him.
“Leave me alone, I’m not interested,” he said. At which point he hurled a bunch of expletives and called her the b-word. She hit back. She whipped out her phone and warned him he’d take her picture, go to the police and “blow him up.” Then he yanked her arm and tried to take her phone. She hit him with her purse.
This was Manhattan in the middle of the afternoon.
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