On Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Tuesday, Michael Moore mischaracterized the rape accusations facing Julian Assange. People criticized both him and Olbermann, and now the MSNBC host has quit Twitter in a huff, thanks to what he described as a “frenzy.” Yep, it’s almost like misrepresenting and minimizing rape accusations can get people upset. Feminists — we’re impossible to please.
Moore, who posted $20,000 towards Assange’s bail, described the inquiry as “stink[ing] to the high heavens.” Moore suggested that governments and corporations are going after Assange with “smears,” and then said that the “charge is that his condom broke during consensual sex.” Check out the clip below and scroll to the 13:10 mark for Moore’s remarks.
This is not true. It’s just not. From The Guardian:
The first complainant, a Miss A, said she was the victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Assange was alleged to have “forcefully” held her arms and used his bodyweight to hold her down. The second charge alleged he “sexually molested” her by having sex without using a condom, when it was her “express wish” that one should be used.
A third charge claimed Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on 18 August.
A fourth charge, relating to a Miss W, alleged that on 17 August, he “improperly exploited” the fact she was asleep to have sex with her without a condom.
Michael Moore was wrong, and Keith Olbermann didn’t correct him, and now Keith Olbermann is mad that people are calling him out. The #MooreandMe tag starting blowing up on Twitter after Sady Doyle wrote a scathing reaction to Moore’s appearance (btw, if you’re not reading Tiger Beatdown on the regular, you’re missing out) — and then Keith Olbermann responded by blocking Doyle and others who agreed with her. He then posted a five-part Twitter non-apology apology, sent some angry @replies, and wrote “I’ll thus unblock all blocks, wish you all a Merry Christmas and I’ll suspend this account until/if this frenzy is stopped.” (He broke the moratorium a few hours later to tweet Larry King.)
Look, if we’re going to talk about Twitter and feminism, we should turn to one of the Internet’s great treasures, Feminist Hulk, whose sage wisdom on such matters is always welcome. ( A classic: “HULK TRY TO BE MINDFUL WHEN COMPLICIT IN SYSTEMS OF PRIVILEGE. SMASH HEGEMONY, WHETHER IT “BENEFIT” HULK OR OPPRESS HIM!”) And on this front, he’s got it exactly right: “AS SURVIVOR, HULK DISTURBED BY ASSANGE COVERAGE. HULK GLAD WIKILEAKS EXIST. HULK SMASH RAPE SHAME. AT SAME TIME.”
Dead on as usual, Feminist Hulk.
I’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby, but I still think drugging and raping a 13-year-old is wrong. I can believe that a radically honest and open government is better for everyone, and I can still think that people who hold women down and forceably have sex with them against their will should go to prison. And you can even be a bleeding heart, pro-union pinko liberal like me and still know that Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore got this really, really wrong.
For more on the differences between Swedish and U.S. laws regarding sexual assault, read this Salon article. For another breakdown of the Olbermann timeline, read this Washington Post story. For more about why “talking about Julian Assange has become utterly terrible,” read this Jezebel post.