California State Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia sat down with a local NPR affiliate to clear her name after a string of sexual assault and harassment allegations and found the interview to be a walk in the park, complete with jokes and laughter.
The interview with KQED begins immediately with a reference to the multiple ongoing investigations. Garcia claims that she hasn’t commented further on the allegations because she “can’t talk about personnel issues.”
When asked specifically about a particular alleged incident where the California Democrat “played or encouraged people to play spin the bottle in a hotel room,” Garcia denied ever even playing the game in her entire life.
In response, the interviewer said Garcia wasn’t “missing much,” prompting laughter and zero scrutinization.
The San Francisco-based station’s failure to push back on Garcia is even more startling due to the fact that she is considered one of the founders of the #MeToo movement. One of the fundamental goals of the anti-sexual assault movement is to encourage society to believe women when they claim they’ve been assaulted or harassed.
Throughout the entire segment, the interviewer never addresses the inconsistency between her support for the #MeToo movement and her claim that the allegations against her are efforts by “political opponents … to discredit her soon after she emerged as a leader” in the movement.
During one question about an incident where Garcia allegedly grabbed a man’s rear end and genitals, the interviewer doesn’t even leave the question open-ended.
GARCIA: I’ve never assaulted anyone physically.
KQED: Sexual or otherwise.
GARCIA: Sexual or otherwise. I try to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Similar to how I want to be treated.
KQED: So this one gentleman says that you tried to grab his butt reached for his crotch, to be graphic about it. You never did that.
Most strikingly, the conclusion of the interview comes across almost as a planned public relations stunt.
KQED: Assemblymember, is there anything else I should ask her or that you want to cover? Or is there anything that you didn’t think was fair that I asked?
GARCIA: No no no. Just, you know, this process needs to get done because the real injustice here is that my community doesn’t have a voice and I don’t get to be the advocate that they elected me to be. And so I hope that the people that are playing these games take this seriously like I have, and help move this investigation along.
As if that wasn’t enough, the interviewer then asks Garcia’s spokesman if there is “anything else you think should be covered” because the station wants to “give you all ample opportunity.”
In an extra measure of kindness, KQED offered “to take five minutes” for the politician and her team to “think about” anything else they’d like to say. The assemblywoman and her spokesman declined.
Back in December 2017, Garcia criticized the mandatory two-hour harassment training that California lawmakers must participate in.
“Some people do take it seriously — and some people are on their phones, some people are cracking jokes,” said Garcia, who is also chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. “I would say the large majority of people are not as attentive.”
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