Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Blocked on Twitter by "This Week" Panelist Matthew Dowd

As a political nerd, I enjoy watching the various Sunday morning news/commentary shows.  My favorite is This Week, at least when George Stephanopolis is hosting.   I know Stephanopolis worked for President Clinton, but, despite his liberal personal views, he does an excellent job of bringing balance to his program and has a knowledge for domestic politics that is matched by maybe only Chuck Todd, host of Meet the Press, my second favorite Sunday morning program.

This Week generally features a strong panel of commentators who bring balance and thought to discussion of the issues.  One of my favorite panelist is (was?) Matthew Dowd, formerly chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign and currently an ABC political analyst.  I don't always
Matthew Dowd
agree with Dowd, but I think he approaches issues thoughtfully and with independence.   We need more of that from political commentators.

Last Sunday though Dowd had an off day.  During the panel of This Week, Dowd stated that in any situation in which a man is accused of sexual misconduct by a woman, absent proof of innocence put forward by the man, the woman must be assumed to be telling the truth and the man should be assumed to be guilty.   Dowd's reasoning?   That for the past 250 years when there has been "He Said She Said" moment, the woman has not been believed.

I certainly do not buy Dowd's working assumption.  The fact is in the "He Said She Said" cases, there often is no corroborating evidence and credibility of the parties is a draw.  It isn't that the woman isn't being believed, but that we don't assume that people who are accused of wrongdoing are guilty.  In baseball, the tie goes to the runner.  When there is an accusation of wrongdoing, the tie goes to the person accused. That is fundamental fairness because it is virtually impossible to prove a negative, that something did not happen.

Setting aside Dowd's faulty working assumption, he is taking the position that a man accused of wrongdoing by a woman should be assumed to be guilty because of how completely unrelated women accusers' allegations have been handled in the past.   That is a preposterous position.

Just days before his appearance on This Week, Dowd tweeted that Clarence Thomas is a "sexual predator."   Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines a "sexual predator" as "a person who has committed a sexually violent offense and especially one who is likely to commit more sexual offenses."   Anita Hill's allegation was that Thomas described to Hill scenes he had seen in pornographic movies and asked her for dates.  Assuming that those allegations were true (and they were highly disputed) they establish Thomas is a sexual harasser not a "sexual predator."  Huge difference.

Although I generally agree with Dowd, I felt compelled to let him know he is wrong on the issue.  I took to Twitter.  When I saw a comment by someone who agreed with Dowd's commentary, I posted this response, which not only went to that person but also Dowd.
"So women, unlike men, never lie?  That is such an incredibly sexist, denigrating attitude."  
I then started to write Dowd directly to demonstrate why his position is wrong, i.e. to give him examples of women falsely accusing men. (Maybe Dowd should try talking to some former male Duke lacrosse players?)  Before I finished my comment, which took more than one tweet, Dowd blocked me from following him or seeing any of his tweets.  Wow.

I just assume that people who appear on TV panel discussion shows have thick skins, that they are used to criticism of their views and are willing to listen to alternative views.  I especially assumed that was true with regard to Dowd who had criticized Trump for being thin-skinned and for only soliciting positive feedback.  (I would link to those many tweets of Dowd's but I'm blocked from doing so.)  Dowd clearly does not practice what he preaches.  On what little I can see of his Twitter feed via a Google search,, Dowd says he "rarely" blocks anyone on Twitter and only those people who "won't listen to facts."

"Won't listen to facts?"  Actually that precisely describes Matthew Dowd's approach to the sexual harassment debate.   Dowd complains about Trump's dishonesty (rightfully so) while engaging in his own brand of own dishonesty telling Twitter followers he only blocks those not open to an honest discussion of the issues.  Clearly Dowd is not going to tolerate any criticism of his views and will shut down anyone who dares to prove him wrong.

Dowd is too thin-skinned to take the criticism and feedback associated with being a political analyst.  He should consider another line of work.

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