If you blinked — or if you watch CNN — you may have missed Lindsey Boylan’s harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, another sign that the #MeToo movement has lost its mojo when it comes to Democratic luminaries.
Ten days after the 36-year-old former Cuomo aide tweeted that the governor “sexually harassed me for years,” which he promptly denied, the story has all but disappeared. It barely nicked Mr. Cuomo’s status as an A-list Democratic star while making a further mockery of the party’s “believe all women” mantra.
As far as conservatives are concerned, the lesson is that women — even liberal Democrats like Ms. Boylan who can prove their proximity to the accused — shouldn’t expect the Christine Blasey Ford treatment if the man in question is a Democratic heavyweight.
“I think it suggests that the usual logic is back in play, which is, you’d better have a decent load of evidence if you’re going to accuse a powerful liberal Democrat,” said Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the conservative Media Research Center. “She doesn’t have what they would consider ‘the goods.’”
And that’s on her. After leveling the explosive charge on Dec. 13, Ms. Boylan offered no evidence and said she would have no further comment. In a message on Twitter, she said, “I have no interest in talking to journalists,” even though she was a public figure as a candidate for Manhattan Borough president.
Within hours, the Cuomo team went on the defensive. Leaked internal documents showed that Ms. Boylan left the governor’s office after other staffers claimed she exceeded her authority. Three Black employees said Ms. Boylan was a “bully” who treated them “like children,” according to the New York Post.
Days later, Ms. Boylan’s campaign communications consultant quit over the allegations, the New York Daily News reported.
Elsewhere, the story received perfunctory coverage. Major newspapers covered her allegations and Mr. Cuomo’s denial, and the broadcast networks ran online stories. Fox News reported the story on the air, but the incident apparently was ignored entirely on one cable network: CNN.
More than a week after the story broke, Mr. Graham said his organization, which tracks media bias, had found no evidence of coverage from CNN, where Mr. Cuomo’s brother, Chris, works as host of “Cuomo Prime Time.”
The Washington Times has reached out to CNN for comment on the absence of reporting, which conservative critics have cited as evidence of political favoritism when it comes to Andrew Cuomo.
“I don’t think [CNN producers] have even tried to demonstrate that they can be fair on Cuomo,” Mr. Graham said. “I could sit here for several hours scratching my head trying to come up with an example. No segments where [host] Brian Stelter chews out the rest of the network for being soft on Chris’ brother.”
Democrats have been similarly mum on the accusations, although one political figure took them seriously enough to call for an investigation.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, New York Republican, issued a statement saying: “I am publicly calling for an independent investigation into the serious allegations of pervasive workplace sexual harassment and verbal abuse by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The people of New York deserve a Governor who lives up to his own public statements on sexual harassment.”
Ms. Boylan, who described the office atmosphere as “beyond toxic,” also said she was certain that other women had been harassed.
“Not knowing what to expect, [that’s] the most upsetting part aside from knowing that no one would do a damn thing even when they saw it,” Ms. Boylan tweeted. “No one. And I *know* I am not the only woman.”
Without details and corroboration, it may be unsurprising that her allegations have gone nowhere, although that was hardly the criteria in the confirmation case of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, as Republican operative Scott Jennings noted.
After USA Today reported that Ms. Boylan had no “validating evidence,” Mr. Jennings tweeted, “Oh, is that the standard? I’ll let Brett Kavanaugh know.”
The case against Justice Kavanaugh amounted to a he-said/she-said, with Ms. Blasey Ford unable to prove that she had even met him, yet her uncorroborated 2017 sexual assault allegations became a national rallying cry that nearly toppled the Supreme Court nominee.
That could mean that the #MeToo movement has stalled after taking out the most egregious high-profile transgressors, starting with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, or that the movement has evolved to the point that an allegation alone isn’t enough to trigger a media inquisition.
If so, “that would be convenient, wouldn’t it?” Mr. Graham said. “Well, ‘We learned our lesson from Kavanaugh, so now we’re going to go easy on Andrew Cuomo.’ I would love to hear someone actually say that.”
If not, then the case could be made that top Democrats are benefiting from a #MeToo double standard.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden survived sexual assault allegations in March by a former staffer, Tara Reade, which he denied. Coverage of her accusations included reports about her misrepresenting her academic credentials and praising Mr. Biden a few years earlier on Twitter.
Mr. Biden came under fire last year for touching women at events and smelling their hair, which some women said made them uncomfortable. He never quite apologized but did say in April 2019 that he would be “more mindful about respecting personal space.”
In August 2018, Karen Monahan accused her ex-boyfriend, then-Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, of abusive behavior, which he denied. Three months later, he won his race for Minnesota attorney general.
Although the allegations were arguably stronger than Ms. Blasey Ford’s — both Ms. Monahan and Ms. Reade could prove they knew their accused — neither ever became a feminist folk hero as Ms. Blasey Ford did.
Of course, not every Democrat emerged from the #MeToo heyday unscathed. Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, resigned in January 2018 after allegations from multiple women of inappropriate behavior and touching.
Then again, the damage to the party was minimal. Unlike Mr. Biden and Mr. Ellison, Mr. Franken was not viewed as pivotal to the party’s future. He was promptly replaced by Tina Smith, a Democrat who won a special election to keep the Senate seat in November 2018.
In a staff editorial, the New York Post said Mr. Cuomo was lucky to be a Democrat, lest the episode result in “political challenges and media shame.”
“You have to regard Boylan’s claims with skepticism, since she offers no details or back-up and won’t even discuss the matter,” said the Dec. 14 editorial. “But will the left and the media be so skeptical next time it’s someone from the political right facing such charges?”