This is why we are afraid of reporting sexual assault. This is how we are shamed.
This is how we are marginalized. This is how we are silenced.
Diehl, 49, resigned both the speakership and his House seat on May 15 after admitting he exchanged sexually charged text messages with XXX, a 19-year-old college freshman from Joplin who was interning at the Capitol.
So, what did the St. Louis Post Dispatch do with this new revelation about Diehl’s affair? Turn it into a piece worthy of the tabloids. Nice job 2015 Pulitzer Prize winning paper!
A recently released police report revealed the name of the woman Diehl was involved with. She had filed the police report because after a night of drinking she was concerned she had been sexually assaulted. Online the story is posted with a picture of Diehl and the woman with the subhead “Raucous Jefferson City Nightlife”
Sexual assault doesn’t rank as raucous nightlife. It is sexual assault.
Here’s the deal – if you want to report a guy had an affair go ahead – by all means. But here’s a few thoughts. If a woman files a sexual assault claim WE DON’T PUBLISH HER NAME – regardless of whether or not the charges were abandoned. Don’t unload what was in the police report – drinking! lobbyists! a former Gov. Nixon employee! – at the expense of the woman who was reportedly victimized. What have you gained? Did you get more clicks? Sell a paper or two more? Smear an already smeared politician? Really? The guy already quit. But splattering the face of the woman on the front page? Really? What the shit “news” paper?
So, I called the author of the piece. She referred me to the politics editor. I left him a long message asking him this:
(Paraphrasing) Why did you decide to out a possible rape victim in service of smearing a now irrelevant politician? What was the editorial decision making behind this? Couldn’t you report the affair without the other shit?
I do encourage you to read the piece and see if I am crazy here — what the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote about this affair isn’t news — its tabloid fodder and goddamn close to if not victim shaming and blaming. This from the piece (I have x’ed out the woman’s name):
Scenes include: XXXXXX paying a bar tab for herself and a lobbyist around midnight for 21 alcoholic drinks, most of them mixed with Red Bull energy drink; a state representative driving around until 2 a.m., trying to find XXXXX after she texted that she was hurt; and Diehl’s statement to police that he repeatedly tried to get XXXXX to leave his apartment, finally succeeding at 5:15 a.m.
A QUESTION OF CULTURE
Partying, drinking and secret liaisons have long been part of the culture of the capital, some say. Legislators, staffers and lobbyists stay in Jefferson City three nights a week during the 4½-month legislative session, often attending evening campaign fundraisers and lobbyist-financed receptions.
“The culture allows for a lot of immature, sort of sophomoric behavior,” said former Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue. “There are a lot of people who revisit the college years, the fraternity years, while they’re down there, and everybody knows it.”
XXXXXX now operates her own public relations and communications firm in St. Louis. She declined to be interviewed for this article, saying: “It’s a very personal, humiliating and embarrassing thing I went through.”
What purpose does this serve? It isn’t about Diehl anymore, is it? It’s about USING this woman to stir the pot. What. The. Shit. Y’all. What is going on? Was there some personal score settling going on? And where is the name of the alleged abuser? Can’t name him cause he will sue so let’s drag the woman through the mud? I don’t understand how this made it through editorial. I don’t understand why the reporter felt the need to get into graphic detail for no apparent purpose? Red Bull? Really? This is news?
If you would like to contact the politics editor like I did here’s his name and number:
Christopher Ave: 314-340-8341 Or you could write a letter to the editor if you live in those parts. Here’s the author: Virginia Young 573-556-6181 who also named the teen intern in the original Diehl scandal.
Here is a wonderful example of a very, very measured letter to the editor registering disgust over the publication of the woman’s name. This is from a friend of mine – she sent it over today:Dear Mr. Bailon, I am a fellow journalist, currently working as an investigative reporter at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. I am writing to question The Dispatch’s publication of the name of a potential victim of sexual assault in the publication of the article “Police report reveals past Diehl affair with Nixon staffer.” As someone who has reported on sexual assault extensively, I am aware that it is against industry standards and unnecessary to do so, unless you have the permission of the individual for the piece. I am writing in hopes that you consider altering or removing the article and consider revising your internal policy on such matters.—Article written by Andy Kopsa, originally appeared on Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality.