1 We know that the FBI had told the Trump White House about allegations from Porter’s two ex-wives that he had been physically abusive. Apparently, the FBI did not confirm, or could not, that the accusations were true. The allegations were still sufficient to prevent Porter from getting security clearance, whether they were true or not. There are good reasons for this. That does not mean that it is fair that someone’s career can be derailed and his reputation smeared without proof of wrongdoing, but it is necessary.
2. The position of an employer that has its own integrity and reputation to protect when an explosive allegation of personal and criminal misconduct regarding an employee arises is an ethics conflict. The Golden Rule suggests that such an employer should not jettison such an employee absent due process and sufficient proof of wrongdoing. However, the greater duty in this case is to the administration.
3. Porter should have resigned. In fact, that he did not resign was the best reason to fire him. This was his domestic problem, and he had no right to inflict it on the White House, even if he was innocent.
4. There was nothing inconsistent about President Trump’s tweets condemning domestic violence and regretting the lack of due process and fairness in the current #MeToo witch hunt environment. He is right on both counts. As usual, he was not as articulate as he needs to be when opining on such delicate topics. He is not going to become more articulate, however.
5. Porter’s denials of wrongdoing, absent more, should carry no more nor less weight than the accusations against him.
6. Nobody who does not know Porter, the women involved or the intimate details of their relationships should be saying things in public like “I believe the wives” or “I don’t believe them.” This flips us back to “I believe Anita Hill but don’t believe that slut Paula Jones” territory. People believe who they want to believe. Women who accuse men of abuse have no more claim or right to be believed without evidence than any other accuser, including those who accuse you.
7. Domestic disputes are infamous for the frequency with which previously honorable combatants will use false or exaggerated accusations to gain legal leverage or for old-fashioned revenge. It is possible that Porter’s two wives want to destroy his life. They seem to be doing a good job of it, if that’s their objective.
8. Neither of Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness or Jennifer Willoughby, ever called the police or filed charges against Porter. That matters. I know all the reasons why abused wives choose not to file charges—I have known a few— but that matters. That’s how the law works. You can not ethically seek punishment for wrongdoing by making an unsubstantiated accusation of criminal wrongdoing in a manner that ensures personal destruction of your ex-spouse because the opportunity arises years later. That is wrong, and not only is it wrong, it is a method that invites abuse.
9. This op-ed, in the Times, is unconscionable, but typical of the news media’s and the pundit class’s attitude in this matter. Lindy West, who Ethics Alarms flagged for this unethical commentary, writes in part,
CNN reported that chief of staff John Kelly, aware of the allegations for months, “told associates that Porter was one of the few competent professionals on his staff and wanted to ensure that he was being used to his full potential.” One wonders if Kelly saw the photographs of Porter’s ex-wife’s face, the gold and the purple nimbus around her eye, the angry swell, the throb of it.
That was the photo of a Colby’s black eye, above, It was not connected in a verifiable way to an incident, a doctor visit or a police report. Porter may have done it, or he may not have. It could have been an accident, his or hers. My wife once had to have stitches in her scalpwhen she startled our English Mastiff (she bussed her on the neck) and she nicked my wife with a tooth when she jerked away. It was a complete accident. She could have used a bloody photo to have Patience killed. The black eye could have been self-inflicted. It could be make-up. West is endorsing bias, prejudice, and emotionalism.
What a luxurious degree of compartmentalization we afford white men — to not only separate Porter the guy-whose-ex-wife-filed-a-protective-order-against-him from Porter the guy-who-is-pretty-good-at-being-a-staff-secretary, but then to weigh their relative importance and choose the latter. (I believe that unit of measurement is called “capitalism.”)Inasmuch as we can judge a person’s interior based on their actions, it’s fair to say that a man who disregards women’s physical and sexual boundaries, as President Trump reportedly has, does not care about women. If it is possible to simultaneously care about women and subordinate their wishes to yours, to prioritize your sexual urges over their bodily autonomy, then what does “care” even mean? I think it’s also fair to say that a man who lashes out at women with physical violence, as Porter allegedly has, harbors some degree of hatred for them. What else does “hatred” mean if not this — the object of our fury, the thing we love to hurt?
She’s a sexist bigot, but at least she makes it screamingly clear how biased she is. I wonder what “alleged” means to Lindy. This paragraph piles alleged on to alleged, making it clear that to West, if the alleged accusation comes from a woman, it means the man did it.
10. Once again, we see the truly unprofessional standards of the Times by printing such inflammatory and dishonest junk. Would they allow this kind of screed under their banner it it didn’t involve impugning Trump? I wonder.
Feminists and sexual assault activists are misplaying a strong hand so egregiously and dishonestly—dealing from the bottom of the deck, hiding cards up their sleeves, shorting the pot, that they guarantee a backlash from those—like me—who should be their natural allies.