Yashar Ali: Eric Bolling’s Sexting Victims Were ‘Traumatized By It’


The media is filled today with stories about HuffPost writer Yashar Ali’s lawyer demanding that Fox News’ Eric Bolling dismiss the $50 million lawsuit he initiated against Ali on Wednesday or face legal sanctions. And that rightfully deserves coverage especially given that the goal of that lawsuit – as Ali explained on my SiriusXM Radio show Friday – was to intimidate him and others from reporting on the scandal. As Ali described, Bolling sued him personally because “he thought that I was some young stupid freelance reporters for HuffPost that would get scared by this.” Adding, “Good luck!”

But lost in all this is the impact that Bolling’s reported misconduct had on the female victims, a point Ali raised during the interview. Ali detailed how some of the victims he had contacted at first refused to speak to him, even off the record, out of fear of the personal and even professional repercussions.

Ali shared, without revealing the name of the victim, the story of one of the women Bolling had reportedly sent unsolicited images of his genitals to. As Ali explained, this woman kept “putting me off” for months, adding, “She didn’t want to confirm something that had caused her so much pain.”

But over the next three months, Ali noted that he had “kept in touch and she finally spoke to me at length about the experience.” When she did open up to Ali, she made it clear that Bolling’s conduct had a profound and painful impact on her. As Ali stated point blank, she had been “traumatized by it.”

When I asked Ali what did this woman hope to get by finally coming forward, he was very clear: “She has no desire for publicity or money.” Adding that this woman and the other victims he had spoken to had on simple goal: “They want justice – they don’t want someone who does these things to be in a positon of power,” adding poignantly, “they don’t want this to go unanswered.”

Yes, the $50 million lawsuit filed by Bolling on Wednesday was intended to intimidate Ali as well as other media outlets from investigating this story in more detail as Ali explained. But let’s be clear, the lawsuit was also intended to keep the victim’s and other possible victim’s silent. It was to send a message that if you come forward, Bolling may sue them as well, costing them legal fees to defend themselves as well as more pain.

And not only do these women have to endure reliving this painful experience and possibly being publicly demonized by Bolling or his supporters, there’s also the impact on their career if they work in the media. For example, Ali noted that while former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson received a settlement reportedly in the area of $20 million last September after she filed a lawsuit against then Fox head honcho Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, she is no longer hosting on TV.

It might be 2017, but in today’s America, it takes an amazing amount of courage for women to come forward to allege sexual misconduct -especially against men who are famous and wealthy. They often become the victim again as they are attacked in the media.

This especially true in Donald Trump’s America given that Trump publicly shamed the women who came forward to allege that they were sexually assaulted by him. As a reminder, despite Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women in the infamous Access Hollywood tape, Trump called the brave women who came forward to report that he had assaulted them “liars” and threatened to sue them at his October campaign rally – all to the cheers of his supporters there. What message does that send to women thinking of coming forward to report sexual misconduct?!

While Trump didn’t sue any of these women, the lawyer suing Ali is none other than one of Trump’s favorite law firms headed by Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz. The legal battle between Bolling and Ali will continue but let’s not lose sight that the true victims in all of this are the women who had to endure sexual misconduct. Let’s hope they get the justice they deserve.

{image via screengrab]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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