Tuesday, 12 December 2017

TYT Fires Jordan Chariton: Was it the Right Thing to do?

TYT fires Jordan Chariton: Was it the Right Thing to do?

The last few weeks have seen a slew of high profile men ousted for serial sexual harassment, abuse and assault. And deservedly so. All of them are hideous examples of what it means to be a man in a position of power. Even Roy Moore, who we blasted for being a horrible person a few weeks ago has been outed as a serial pedophile. And the names won’t stop dropping anytime soon. I have a feeling we have a long road of disappointment and disgust ahead.

Most of these men have been firmly outside the Progressive wing of the Democratic party. Until now at least. The poison of misogynistic harassment and sexism has finally pierced the veil and popped the bubble of progressive smugness and morality. First Al Franken and now Jordan Chariton.

Of course, when Weinstein went down, nobody felt bad for him. No normal person was empathetic towards him. Nobody cared about his side of the story. And that’s because nobody cared about him beforehand either. He was nobody’s hero and so he was easy to be damned by liberals and conservatives alike.

Shortly after, more powerful creeps were outed for sexual misconduct (allegedly), but still nobody was implicated that anyone in my network really identified with. So nobody was quick to defend any of them.

But then the truth about Louis C.K. came out. And suddenly nuance was something people wanted to discuss. People I know like Louis C.K. They love him. He is one of the most successful comedians in the world and people feel connected to him. They identify with him. Especially white men.

People care about nuance when they identify with the accused

Like Louis, Jordon Chariton is someone people in my circle identify with. Progressives feel connected to him because all of us can agree his work in Flint, East Chicago, South Dakota and during the 2016 election was impeccable. Chariton has been one of the most important voices for Progressives for nearly two years. And so when he was accused of sexual misconduct, some Progressives felt like they were being accused of something too. And suddenly for many, defense mode was activated.

That line of thinking turns principles into dust.

So we have to ignore the urges to defend those we identify with based purely on one’s association. Instead, we must follow the same processes we would as if it were someone we had no connection to at all. With that in mind, we can start to have an honest conversation about if Chariton deserved to be fired from TYT.

READ  Top YouTube Sources for Progressive News, 2016 Election

TYT Fires Jordan Chariton, was it the right thing to do?

Let me be clear. None of the additional allegations made by either side in the last week matter. A misuse of funds? Not important to this conversation. Using TYT to boost Truth Against the Machine? Again, not important in this context.

The only allegation that matters is if Jordan was having sexual relations with his own employees, or with perspective employees as Cenk suggested in TYT’s official statement released earlier today. If you believe Cenk’s statement, you should undoubtedly agree that firing Jordan was the correct thing to do. If Jordan was in any way operating as a superior in the workplace to any of the women involved, he needed to be fired immediately.

Sexual harassment in the workplace takes many forms

Sexual harassment takes many forms in the workplace. A superior using the power dynamics of a workplace to coerce women into sexual situations is one of them. Even if – and to be clear I think it was – a consensual sexual encounter, the fact that Chariton was engaging with his own employees/staffers/freelancers is absolutely a fireable offense. When a “no” has financial implications, a “yes” is hardly consent. If your boss asks you to stay a little late one night at work to finish a project, is “no” really an option?

While I do not believe a crime was committed, these women should have never been put into this situation. Even if they pleaded for him to join (not sure that happens in real life), he had a responsibility to say no. Of which, he failed.

According to Cenk, “We did it to protect the people that work here and make sure that we have professional management in place.” Cenk went on to give sincere credit to Chariton’s great work for TYT in the past but made it abundantly clear: Jordan Chariton is fired.

I applaud how The Young Turks handled the situation. Every step of the way, they followed a procedure designed to protect their employees, their brand and to give Jordan a fair shot to prove his innocence. While Chariton  focused on the legality of his actions, he did not acknowledge the ethical implications of his actions. As Cenk made clear, that is why he was fired. And he deserved to be.

Watch the full response from Cenk below:

Ryan Black is a documentary filmmaker, political consultant, and digital media professional who writes about Progressive Politics.

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