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Town Hall - Tipping Point: Secual Harassment in America. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 9, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH: It's a watershed moment.
ANNOUNCER: What started in Hollywood...
ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: ... wanted to meet me on the patio. And they said, he's in his room. I was like, are you kidding me?
ANNOUNCER: As dozens of stars accuse mega-producer Harvey Weinstein of lewd and even criminal acts...
LAUREN SIVAN, JOURNALIST: It was disgusting and kind of pathetic, really, to stand there and look at this man.
ANNOUNCER: ... has unleashed a tidal wave of anger.
ALYSSA MILANO, ACTRESS: I have been harassed so many times I can't count.
(UNKNOWN): It has to stop.
ANNOUNCER: Women are speaking up.
(UNKNOWN): We just need to keep talking about it.
ANNOUNCER: And powerful men are losing their jobs, from TV stars to top executives.
ROSE MCGOWAN, ACTRESS AND SINGER: It's time to clean house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. And welcome to a live CNN town hall, "Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment in America."
We've all seen the headlines, powerful men falling like dominos after stories of sexual misconduct. And just hours ago, new revelations. Emmy Award-winning comedian Louis CK accused of lewd acts, accusations he has yet to respond to.
And Roy Moore, U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, accused of engaging in sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30s. He calls the allegations completely false and a desperate political attack.
It feels like every day there are new allegations. And it feels like, after decades of silence, we're at a tipping point. We have a lot to discuss tonight, so let me bring in our guests.
We all know Anita Hill, one of the first women to highlight the issue of workplace harassment with her testimony against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991.
We want to welcome you.
Also, former Congresswoman Mary Bono. She's speaking out about being sexually harassed while she was in Congress. We also have Gretchen Carlson, whose lawsuit brought down Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes. And actress Jessica Barth, who created a campaign called "Who Is Your Harvey?", inspired by her own encounter with Harvey Weinstein.
So thank you all very much for being with us right now.
So, Jessica, let me start with you, because you are one of scores of women who has a Harvey Weinstein story. You say that in 2011 he called you to a work meeting and then he asked you to give him a naked massage, which you refused to do. You are also pursuing charges against your former manager, David Guillod, who you say drugged and assaulted you. So what has this last month been like for you since you've gone public with this?
JESSICA BARTH, ACTRESS: It's been chaotic. I have had emotions ranging from empowerment to frustration to anger. It's been difficult on my family, as well. When everything happened with Harvey Weinstein, I knew that this was my opportunity to speak out, thinking always in the back of my mind that I was going to speak out against my former manager. Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed me. David Guillod sexually assault me. So that was my main goal. And having the platform to speak about Harvey Weinstein only gave me more courage to come forward about David Guillod.
CAMEROTA: And, Jessica, just to let our viewers and everyone here know, you are a brave woman.
BARTH: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: We invited dozens of Hollywood actors with stories here tonight, and you're the only one who agreed to have this conversation on national television. So we appreciate you being here.
BARTH: No pressure.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, listen, you know, why do you think that so many people are reluctant to now talk about this in this sort of public forum?
BARTH: It's scary. I think there's a lot of fear that comes with it, as what we just read about Harvey Weinstein and his ties with the Black Cube, there's a lot of fear. There's shame with speaking out. And I think part of the process in moving forward is to try to alleviate that shame.
I think women who have a story and need to speak out can look at the media right now. I don't know how it's going to be in the future, but right now, it seems to be that the media is a powerful tool in getting justice and -- for these perpetrators to get consequences.
We see every day, you know, Kevin Spacey being scrubbed from a Ridley Scott movie. We see agents being fired, executives being fired, just based on allegations. Of course there's investigations to be followed through, but the media is a powerful tool right now to out your assaulter and get the conversation going.
And my reason, my initial reason is to get more people, get more women coming forward to make it a topic. You know, there is a sexual assault in this country every 73 seconds. So that should really take shame -- help to take shame out of the equation.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. I mean, listen, talking about it breaks the taboo. That's part of why we're having this national conversation.
CAMEROTA: So, for the record, I do want to say that Weinstein has said that he sincerely apologizes for his behavior. He's denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex. And David Guillod, his attorney declined to comment to CNN about Jessica's claims beyond saying that no charges were ever filed. The LAPD, however, confirms that there is now an investigation under way.
So I want to turn now to Gretchen Carlson. Gretchen, can you believe everything that has happened since July 2016 when you filed your suit against the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes?
GRETCHEN CARLSON, AUTHOR, "BE FIERCE": No. How could I? I mean, when I jumped off the cliff by myself, there was no way of knowing what would happen to me the next minute, hour, day, weeks.
But immediately what happened, Alisyn, was so many women across this country started reaching out to me and telling me their own stories of shame and pain and agony. And I realized that it was a pervasive epidemic. And it wasn't just TV, and it wasn't just Hollywood. It was waitresses and lawyers and bankers and teachers and members of our military. And I realized I had to do something about it.
And if I wasn't going to do anything about it, who was? And look where we are today. This is so heartening to me to see where we have come. And one of my favorite quotes is: "One woman can make a difference, but together we rock the world." And look where we are. I'm so proud of all the women who have come forward and who are feeling brave and courageous.
CAMEROTA: Gretchen, that is so powerful and so strong. And we do have women in the audience who do want to talk to you and ask you questions. So let's bring in our audience.
The first question comes from Carrie Goldberg. She is a victim's rights attorney representing one of Harvey Weinstein's accusers. So, Carrie, your question, I understand, is to Anita Hill. So go right ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. Anita, it's been 25 years since you gave your incredibly courageous testimony against Clarence Thomas. But everyone here knows that you were put through the ringer publicly. Your motivations for coming forward were wrongly mischaracterized in order to cast doubt on you.
Unfortunately, we're still seeing that kind of retaliation going on right now against other accusers of Weinstein, Cosby, Ailes, O'Reilly. As somebody who has experienced this firsthand, what is your advice to my clients and other victims of sexual assault and harassment who are coming forward against predators, from the powerful and famous to the sexual harasser next door?
ANITA HILL, PROFESSOR, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY: One of the things that actually helped me to deal with the retaliation that was coming toward me, and actually just outright attacks, was to realize that they weren't really only trying to discredit my testimony. They were just really trying to destroy my character.
But it was a playbook that has been played over and over again. And so I think the more that we tell people that, yes, there will be retaliation, it's something that typically happens, and in some ways, it's not even about you personally. It's about the only way that they know how to prevail and to counter the accusations that are coming against them.
But I also tell people to remember that the sexual assault, the sexual harassment is something that has happened to you. It is not who you are. You are bigger and more than that incident or that series of assaults that have occurred.
So if you reach back and know who you are, know your value, know your worth, and surround yourself with people who do know that and who love you, that's one way to weather it. And always believe in yourself and exclude all those people who are the naysayers.
CAMEROTA: And so, Professor, from where you sit, 26 years later, after your testimony, do you feel like we're at a tipping point right now?
HILL: I absolutely do. You know, I've been in this for 26 years now. And I've seen stories come and go. And some of them are quite powerful. I've seen movements come and go. And some are quite powerful.
I've not seen something like this. And I'm hoping that not only will it bring lasting change, but I'm really hoping in two areas in particular that change comes: One, that we start looking at how harassment and harassing behavior is enabled, and all the, really, structures and people who are complicit in it, in making sure that harassment either continues or gets disguised.
And that's one of the things that we can clearly learn from the Harvey Weinstein story, that there's just -- every day, there were revelations about who was helping him and who was covering it and who was being used to attack women who came forward to accuse.
The other thing that I hope is that the believability factor gets transferred, and that it gets transferred to people, again, outside of Hollywood, but also to women who have been marginalized on this issue for years.
I mean, part of the response to me had to do with my race. There are people who are not believed, not because their stories aren't true or credible, but because there's a certain kind of skepticism that comes with all kinds of identity factors, whether it's sexuality or race or class.
And so we tend to think about Hollywood. And I want us to understand that this is -- sexual harassment, sexual assault is something that happens to women of all races, all ages, all sizes, you know, all backgrounds, religions. And until we can believe all women, every woman's voice has value, none of us really will be seen as equal.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. I mean, it feels like this is a universal experience. Almost universal experience. So, Congresswoman Bono, great to have you here.
MARY BONO, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN (R-CA): Thank you.
CAMEROTA: I know that you have been speaking out about the sexual harassment that you experienced inside the halls of Congress. What happened?
BONO: My story is little bit different, luckily. First of all, I spoke to a reporter who had remembered stories from years back when I'd mentioned something had happened, rather. So my story was that on the floor of the House of Representatives, there are, you know, fewer than 20 percent are women. So you're in a guy's world. And I've always felt, if you're going to play in a guy's world, you need to be able to suit up and really play.
But one day, this one colleague of mine just said something that was just way wrong, just completely wrong and offensive, and he said he thought about me while he was taking a shower. And I just -- a couple of things happened. He said it in front of other colleagues of mine. So to me, it wasn't about sexuality; it was about being demeaned.
So what happened, it was a teaching and a learning moment for me, because I found my voice. And I said, "Knock it off, that's not OK, it's not cool." And I think he kind of was taken aback. I think it was the first person to say don't do that. And, you know, he changed.
And so there is a lesson in that, that if we can find our voices -- and it's hard. And again, these are my colleagues. They're my peers. It wasn't a boss. It wasn't somebody giving me a career. It wasn't something I was going to lose, other than maybe the respect of colleagues or would I be heckled more, hassled more.
But then this week -- I still work on the Hill. I'm there a lot. And I thought all my male colleagues would be very stand-offish. And to a man, they're saying we are so sorry that happened to you. And, you know, it's not widespread. It's very, very rare. But when it happens, it's really about just taking you down a notch.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, no, that's so true. And I really appreciate you saying that about men, because I, too, have found men to be really supportive. The good guys are really supportive when they find out, and they're really appalled, frankly, at this. But, Gretchen, I see you -- I see you nodding. What was resonating with you about both these ladies' stories?
CARLSON: Well, so many things. I mean, I think, how do we fix this? We have to change enablers and bystanders into allies. We have to encourage men in the workplace to find the same amount of courage that women do in coming forward in coming to our defense.
And what Mary just said is so true. When you stop it cold like that, it goes away. And so we just need to encourage more of that to happen.
I will say, in my unscientific study of New York City and the people who stop me on the streets, more predominantly men stop me and they want to shake my hand and they say, "Thank you for my daughters." So we have so many men out there. The majority want safe work environments for women. What we need to encourage them now is to just please stand up and have a voice.
And we're starting to see it on social media. I really believe that will be the final aspect of the tipping point, women coming forward and the men defending the women.
HILL: Well, can I just say something? I agree that very often it can happen that the problem stops when someone steps up and says stop it. But what we know in reality is that very often it escalates when someone steps up.
CAMEROTA: That was your experience.
HILL: Yeah, that was my experience and I expect that that's a lot of women's experiences. And so I think we have to be very careful.
The whole idea about men stepping up, I absolutely agree. When I first started, you know, speaking out after the hearing about -- I'd get mail from a lot of women. And most of them were very supportive. The majority of them were supportive. I'd got mail from men; most of it was not very supportive.
But what I have -- what has happened over the past 26 years is that more men are stepping up. And that is an important change in what is going on. And it will take men to stand up for equality in the workplace on the streets and in our schools. And it comes a lot of ways because they have daughters.
HILL: But, you know, you also wonder, OK, don't these same men have mothers? They have sisters maybe. So you kind of wonder why...
CAMEROTA: Where have they been?
HILL: Yeah, where have they been? But as long as they're here, I'm happy. I'll take them.
CAMEROTA: You know, Congressman Bono, it was, I think, really sort of startling to hear that this was happening still in the halls of Congress, right, where lawmakers are. In fact, we've heard from Congresswoman Linda Sanchez who says that it's still happening, that there's this whisper network that she refers to where the women warn each other which of the guys to stay away from. And so in that vein, I'm wondering, have you considered naming the person who did this?
BONO: The reason that I don't is because he stopped. And I wouldn't say that if he didn't, but he did. And so when somebody changes their way, they should be thanked.
But, you know, Anita is 100 percent right. Look, my experience was what it was, and it was on the floor of the House of Representatives, different. The people I think about the most, they're the 24-year-old single working woman. Now, courage and a voice are great. But they don't put food on the table at the end of the week if you lose your job. So my example is different. But, yes, Congress is not immune, Republicans, Democrats, independents. It happens everywhere.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. Jessica, what about you? In terms of the whisper network, is there such a thing in Hollywood, where women warn each other? I mean, certainly we now know that Harvey Weinstein was an open secret.
BARTH: Absolutely. And I think it's really important for men -- and I say men, because men are mostly in the power positions in Hollywood -- but with these open secrets, you know, I don't think anybody is shocked about anybody that's coming out. People have heard about it in one form or another.
The responsibility when you hear an accusation over and over again is to stop working with these people. I've said this before. If everybody who knew about Harvey Weinstein just refused to work for him or work with him or hire him, he would be rendered powerless. So that's what we need to do.
When we hear stories over and over again about predators, stop working with them. And that's how we threaten their finances. And then we threaten their freedom by getting them prosecuted and put behind bars for things like rape. Obviously, you can't do that for sexual harassment, but once we start seeing huge consequences, once we see that first person behind bars, I guarantee you, there's going to be a shift in behavior across the country.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Gretchen.
CARLSON: And, Alisyn, one of the things that I figured out in my analysis in the research in writing my most recent book, "Be Fierce," was the idea that almost all the women that reached out to me by the thousands, all of them are no longer working in their chosen professional field, and that is outrageous. Why should women be stripped of the American dream? And we watched predators fall, and then the next week we're talking about, well, where will they land again with their job?
Here is my challenge to American companies tonight. Let's go out and find all of those American women who work just as hard as all the rest of us for the American dream, who had it taken away from them because they had the courage to come forward and blow the whistle on somebody else. Let's go back and hire those women and put them back into the economy, and forget about whether or not the predators are coming back into the workforce.
CAMEROTA: Such a good point. I mean, speaking out cannot be a death sentence for a woman's career. I mean, that has got to change.
So I want to bring in the audience again. The next question comes from Susan Ho. She's the founder and CEO of a travel start-up called GoJourny.com. She's one of six women who recently came forward to accuse a Silicon Valley investor of sexual harassment. She has a question for Gretchen. Hi, Susan.
QUESTION: Hi. Gretchen, how can America drive real progress in addressing sexual harassment of women and men in Silicon Valley, in Hollywood, in all industries and in everyday places, when we have a man sitting in the White House who's boasted on tape of grabbing women's crotches and is currently facing allegations of sexual harassment himself?
CARLSON: It's such a great question. I get it asked every single day. In simple terms, the difference is that every American has a vote. We can fire people in private business, but we can't fire somebody that's been voted into office until the next election.
But here's what I'm doing on Capitol Hill. I am working in a bipartisan fashion to change the laws to take the secrecy away from this issue. And I am very optimistic. I was just there Tuesday meeting with senators and members of the House that I'm going to get this bill passed. It will take the secrecy out of forced arbitration, which is in so many employment contracts right now and gives no voice to women when they are sexually harassed. And then when that bill passes, it will land on the desk of President Donald Trump. And I hope that he will sign it to help women.
CAMEROTA: The president has said of these accusers and these accusations, "It's all one big, ugly lie." But, Mary Bono, I'm just curious, why do you think, Mary, that voters overlooked the Access Hollywood tape and the accusations against then-candidate Donald Trump?
BONO: Look, if I could explain this election, I probably would be sitting in your chair, not mine.
(LAUGHTER) It's a great question. Look, again, I can't explain this election. And so many things resonated differently to different people. Clearly, the economy mattered to a lot of people. It mattered more than these other issues.
You know, my pet issue is actually the opioid epidemic. Parts of the country are very hard hit. And those people put those things ahead of that. And they saw something.
Look, I was in France a couple of weeks ago. People see Donald Trump as -- look, he's a -- you know, he's a disruptor, you know? It's not politics as usual. So I think that's what they saw in him. But he has four years to prove himself. And hopefully he'll be successful. I always think that rooting against him is like rooting against the pilot of the plane you're on. And I don't tend to do that.
CAMEROTA: OK, so imagine this scenario. You report sexual harassment and then you're told you're the one who needs counseling. That's happening to women in Congress. That's coming up.
CAMEROTA: Welcome back to "Tipping Point," a CNN town hall on sexual harassment. I'm Alisyn Camerota.
New reporting by CNN has exposed a little-known government program. It turns out that for years, Congress has been paying out settlements to victims of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill with our taxpayer dollars. And that's not the only outrageous part.
The current policy also says that if you work in Congress and you accuse someone of sexual harassment, you are required to go through 30 days of counseling, then 30 days of mediation, and then you have to wait another 30 days before you can file a formal complaint. Oh, and lawmakers have no idea how much settlement money is being paid out.
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced new legislation to overhaul this entire system, and she is joining us live tonight from Capitol Hill. Senator, it's great to see you.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (R-NY): Hey, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: This is jaw-dropping info. But before we get to this relatively secretive system, I know that you have your own personal story of a fellow senator touching you inappropriately. So what happened?
GILLIBRAND: It was a story that I told in my book. I had a chapter on how people focus on appearance and how, when they do that, particularly in politics or in other professions, it really undermines women. So whether they're saying positive things about you or negative things
about you, it undermines you in the view of voters, in the view of your constituents, because you're not talking about what you're doing and what you're for, you're talking about how you look. And so that was a chapter about when I lost weight and how people felt very free to comment about my weight all the time, and how that's hard as a member of Congress, because -- or anyone, because it's undermining you.
CAMEROTA: And but -- did the fellow senator pat you on your body somewhere?
GILLIBRAND: I was grabbed by the waist, just with one hand, gently. And the gentleman said, "Don't lose too much weight, I like my girls chubby."
CAMEROTA: Oh, boy. OK, so you're introducing legislation. And you can't legislate against that. However, you are trying to change things. And it is stunning that the U.S. government is using taxpayer money to pay for these settlements. Do you know how many of these secretive settlements there have been?
GILLIBRAND: No, I don't. And hopefully, we can find that out. But the system is broken. And Congress should never be able to play by their own set of rules or ever be above the law.
And so what I've done with a number of colleagues, and we're going to try to introduce a bipartisan bill soon, is to change how it works, and so that the process can now be transparent and accountable so that you don't have to do that mandatory counseling and mandatory mediation, that you can choose what you want -- what process you want for yourself. It will have confidential advisers in place.
And I think the most powerful piece of the legislation will be a survey done every two years to determine, what's the climate here? Because how many interns out there have never felt they could report these things? How many young staffers feel if they report something that they will be scorned or will never have a job on Capitol Hill again? And I'm most worried about them.
And so we need to change the process for them so that they can have accountability and have at least some process that doesn't marginalize them or embarrass them or try to stifle their views.
CAMEROTA: But why aren't the people accused of sexual harassment paying out of their own pockets?
GILLIBRAND: It doesn't make sense. I think it sounds like a -- it's something that shouldn't be. And so we should unwind it and try to change it. And that's what I'm going to work on in my bill.
CAMEROTA: I mean, again, this is why we're having this national conversation, because people don't know about it. They haven't spoken about it. There's all of this secrecy surrounding this subject.
So, Congresswoman Bono, you personally confronted the man in Congress who said the inappropriate thing to you. What happened? And then what was it like working alongside of him?
BONO: What happened is he stopped. Again, I think he was sort of taken aback, but he never did it again. And I think that's really important.
But, you know, there was another time I also spoke about, and what was interesting is there was a bystander. There was a man who overheard, and he was visibly agitated and angry. So one of my colleagues, again, a bystander stepped in, in a big way to stop it.
But you know what, the senator is talking about -- we didn't even know that this existed. We did not know that there was a fund that was being paid out there. Until this conversation was occurring, we didn't even know what was happening. We didn't know about the -- she might have, but I certainly didn't.
CAMEROTA: No, CNN reported on it today. Today we're finding out about it. And who knows how long it's gone on? Who knows how much taxpayer money has been paid out in settlements? I mean, all of this is, you know, very swept under the rug. And that, again, is why it's important to remove the stigma about all...
GILLIBRAND: And, Alisyn, it's about institutional bias. I mean, you have to recognize, in all of these examples we've been talking about, you have powerful institutions that are protecting the powerful. Whether you're talking about Hollywood, whether you're talking about -- even college campuses, when you're, you know, favoring star football players, whether you're talking about the military, each of these instances, you have institutions that are trying to protect their own. And that's why Congress cannot tolerate this kind of system that is really undermining survivors and giving them no possibility of justice or even a process where they can be heard.
HILL: Well, this is exactly what I was talking about when I said the structures that keep into place the behavior. If the Congress just keeps paying off people and nobody even knows how much or who's gotten paid off or who has been the harassers in the past, there could be serial harassers that no one is ever -- you know, holds accountable.
And it does happen, especially in universities. I'm in university. And it not only happens to star football players, it happens with the protections. And it's not about even protecting the player. Trust me. It's about protecting the football franchise.
But, importantly, in universities, it could be grant winners, big grant winners, people who bring in lots of grant money or contracts. We all see it. And it happens in large ways and small ways. It's about that power hierarchy that is maintained through certain structures and contracts and systems.
And this is a chance to expose some of those. And I think -- I'm glad CNN reported the story, because I think it will require many businesses to look at what is going on in their own enterprises and to determine that -- finally determine that it is not in any business's interest, because even if they don't lose money, because of the reputational loss is there.
CAMEROTA: Yes, their liability, absolutely. These guys are liabilities. So there's a lot of soul-searching going on. Ladies, hold your thoughts for one minute, because I want to go back to the audience. We want to bring in Cynthia Shapiro. She's worked in human resources for many years. She now works as an employee advocate and is the author of "Corporate Confidential." So, very fitting. She has a question for Gretchen. Go ahead, Cynthia.
QUESTION: I know firsthand that HR is bound by a strong edict to protect the company first and employees second. What this often means is that when an employee comes to HR with something as potentially damaging as a sexual harassment claim, the company may act to protect itself instead of protecting them.
We all know that retaliation after making a claim is illegal and we all know it happens every day. One of the reasons I wrote "Corporate Confidential" is to educate people that going to the company HR department may actually be a conflict of interest. Having been through this, what do you think could be done to make it safer for victims of sexual harassment to come forward and be protected?
CARLSON: Thank you so much for the question. In the research that I did for my own book, "Be Fierce," I found the exact same thing. I want to preface it by saying that there were a lot of great HR people that did reach out to me who want to be on the right side of history on this, but you're so right about the conflict of interest.
If the perpetrator happens to be the one signing the paycheck, then that's not a fair system. So what I advocate for in "Be Fierce" is that companies hire an ombudsman of sorts where the victims would feel much more comfortable coming to an independent source and not necessarily going to HR.
But also the way in which we solve this -- because the common thread we're hearing all throughout tonight is the secrecy. And what companies or Capitol Hill or universities have been doing is figuring out ways to continue to silence victims. And that is why taking away forced arbitration clauses for 60 million Americans across America right now, they don't even know they have these contracts. It means you go to a secret chamber when you go to report these things.
Or what we're just hearing about Capitol Hill. Secrecy is the thing that we have to lift so that women's voices match up with the power pendulum within the company of the predator. And then other women know what's going on within the company, as well, and they feel the bravery to come forward. So this is my mission on Capitol Hill right now, to get a bipartisan bill. Senator Gillibrand, I'm going to be calling you.
GILLIBRAND: I'm ready. I'm ready.
CARLSON: I know that you'll be onboard. I know. And I'm really optimistic that we can get something done for women along with the bill that you are trying to do, as well. CAMEROTA: And, Gretchen, just remind us quickly of your personal
story. Did you try to tell someone, anyone, at Fox what was happening?
CARLSON: Well, you also worked there, Alisyn, and you can probably better say than I, because the other way in which we choose to silence women is through settlements. And that was the end result for me.
I was not given the option of going to an open jury process. This is what people don't know about the way in which our country has decided to resolve sexual harassment. Forced arbitration within companies to keep the women silent and let the perpetrator stay on the job, or settlements that also keep the women silent, this is why silencing is the key to eradicate in order for more women to have the power to come forward.
GILLIBRAND: I agreed with an earlier statement that we need to see more convictions. One of the things that I keep seeing over and over in the context of military sexual assault is that the conviction rate, the rate of cases actually going to trial keeps going down.
And like in these other contexts, the retaliation is real. Fifty-nine percent of survivors who reported last year alone reported that they were retaliated against because they reported. These are all the tools that institutions use to, again, silence victims to make sure they don't report, to make sure that justice is not seen.
So I think we need to show leadership, at least in our military. If the military could get this right, it would at least provide guidance for other places. But right now, they're getting it woefully, very inadequately. And we need to do better. So it's really about providing justice, transparency, and accountability.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. I want to bring Jessica Barth back, because, Jessica, you, obviously, work in Hollywood. There's no Hollywood HR department. You're sort of all on your own to fend for yourself. You have gone to the police about this. I mean, what's the -- what's the solution for people who don't have a functioning HR department?
BARTH: That's a big question in Hollywood right now. So there is questions about our guild, the Screen Actors Guild. One thing that just came out today was the Los Angeles district attorney just opened a special task force for sexual abuse. So that's huge for L.A. There's going to be veteran -- sorry -- there's going to be veteran sexual abuse prosecutors on that team. So it will be easier to come out in L.A.
You know, it's hard when, you know, in my case, you have a representation, you have a team behind you. And in my case, my perpetrator was my manager. And that's somebody who was supposed to represent me and somebody that I was supposed to trust. So that's somebody that I'm supposed to go to if something like this happened.
And the only thing that I can encourage is that women keep speaking out, keep speaking up. That's why I created "Who Is Your Harvey?", because I wanted a safe place for women to be able to name their perpetrator. And if I have -- if I have an e-mail naming a perpetrator, and I get another one, I have the -- they have the option of being connected to each other or to an investigative reporter.
CAMEROTA: Right, and it's been working. I mean, I know that you've been relying on that. That's been happening.
But I want to bring in another audience member. We want to bring in Sari Kamin. She's one of the hundreds of women who have accused Hollywood director James Toback of inappropriate behavior, charges that he has called, quote, "just too stupid. These are people I don't know." She has a question for Senator Gillibrand.
QUESTION: Hi, Senator Gillibrand.
QUESTION: In the case of James Toback, over 300 women have come forward to say they were sexually harassed or assaulted by this one man. However, due to the statute of limitations in New York and California, there is currently no way to pursue criminal charge against him. Should state legislators re-evaluate sexual abuse policies so that victims who are too scared to speak up when abuse happens can still seek legal justice down the line?
GILLIBRAND: Yes. I don't think there should be a statute of limitations. I think it's a huge mistake.
CAMEROTA: And -- but since there are statutes of limitations, I mean, where are people supposed to go to get justice if they it's expired?
GILLIBRAND: I think they can go to the public. I think it's really important. I think the #MeToo campaign is changing everything. To have a public forum where men and women can come forward to tell, unfortunately, the worst stories of their lives publicly is creating pressure.
I mean, look at how much accountability we've seen in the last few weeks alone. People who are being accused of heinous crimes, of horrible assault and harassment, they are now being held accountable. They're losing contracts. They're losing jobs. They've lost reputations.
And so even if you can't perhaps sue your perpetrator because of the statute of limitations, I would still tell your story if you have -- if you feel safe enough to do so, and if you have the ability to do so, because that is the way we create change, just by speaking out. And because of the brave souls who have responded to #MeToo, it's creating a revolution and it's creating enormous oversight where we hadn't seen any before.
CAMEROTA: And we feel it tonight. So thank you all, ladies, for all of the information and the questions.
Up next, the men's perspective. What do they think about the #MeToo movement? We'll find out.
CAMEROTA: Welcome back to "Tipping Point," a CNN town hall on sexual harassment. I'm Alisyn Camerota.
Since the Weinstein news broke, more than 24 million people have posted a personal story with the hashtag #MeToo. That's the campaign created by Tarana Burke, program director for the Brooklyn-based nonprofit Girls for Gender Equity. She is joining us now.
It's so great to have you here.
TARANA BURKE, DIRECTOR, GIRLS FOR GENDER EQUALITY: Thank you for having me.
CAMEROTA: I also want to bring in Matt McGorry. He is an actor you might recognize from "Orange is the New Black" and "How to Get Away with Murder." He's written about the role that good men need to play during this #MeToo moment. Welcome to both of you.
Matt, I want to start with you, because I know that this is a confusing and skittish time for men. Just yesterday at work, a very nice guy said to me, "I know it's dangerous in this climate to say this, but that's a pretty dress you're wearing." I mean, has it gotten to the point where men are afraid to compliment women?
MATT MCGORRY, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: You know, I think, as men, we tend to resist engaging in the questions in sort of a deeper way, right? So we're approaching this from a point of view where we're going through our own personal experience, which is not remotely close to what women are going through, right?
So the only way we can really bridge that gap -- and I'll speak to the fact that it was only three years ago for me personally that I began to ask these questions of myself and to consider this other perspective. So unless we can really close the gap by actually taking a proactive role and sort of educating ourselves about what it's like to be a woman and, like, what it's -- how to be a man other than just watching these stories thinking that's terrible and saying, well, I'm glad I didn't do that, you know, we have to actively be a part of the solution.
And unless we actively take a role in doing that, by putting ourselves sort of through the process of re-education, you know, we're going to have a hard time having those questions.
CAMEROTA: All right, let's go to our audience, because Cathy Young is an author who writes about gender, and she has a similar question about men. Cathy?
QUESTION: Yes. So, obviously, I think we can all agree that there's been a really positive effect with this new attention on sexual harassment, of bringing accountability to powerful predators, but do you think that there is a danger of the pendulum swinging too far, and, for instance, of people's careers being destroyed over really very minor transgressions, over, let's say, making a single sexual advance to somebody at a kind of drunken social event that is work- related? So do you think that is a problem? And how do we find the nuance...
CAMEROTA: Is there an overcorrection? Is there a danger of an overcorrection?
MCGORRY: You know, I don't think I'm probably the person to answer that. I think, you know, from my mind, you know, the best thing that we can do as men, if that is a consideration, is to work actively to create the world where people are equal, right? And so we don't have to have these conversations.
So I think that is a -- I would say a bit of an overblown worry. And it's something that we can really mitigate against if we just ask, right? This idea of, like, asking for consent on all things, right? Even saying -- if you ask about the dress and you can say, is that OK? Right? Or even like, you know, whether -- do we kiss the person or not? We can just ask, right?
CAMEROTA: Yeah, no, we do have a conversation. I mean, that ended up being a nice conversation, because I gave him permission to compliment me.
CAMEROTA: And he felt better, and I felt better. And that's just where we are right now. Everybody is sort of feeling their way and trying to figure out where the parameters are.
So, Tarana, I want to bring you in, because you started -- I was so fascinated to hear this. You started the #MeToo movement 10 years ago?
CAMEROTA: And it's just now caught on like wildfire.
BURKE: Well, yes.
CAMEROTA: So what was the motivation?
BURKE: Well, for me, I was working with young black and brown girls in the South. And I needed to find a way to connect with them around sexual violence. I needed to find a way to be able to talk to them, and the best way was an exchange of empathy, which #MeToo is, an exchange of empathy between survivors.
CAMEROTA: And do you have any fear that the #MeToo movement, because it's taken off and exploded in this way, and women are using it to connect and to realize that there's strength in numbers, but is there some fear that it also kind of opens it up for public shaming of men? Or just, you know, the public knowing sort of about things that have not been litigated?
BURKE: Well, I'm not concerned about litigation. I'm not concerned about men being publicly shamed. I'm more concerned about survivors who have been holding shame for years. This is a moment for men, women, people who are survivors, who have
been holding these stories in the pit of their stomach for God knows how long to be able to be heard and believe and stand up. And that's a very important moment in the trajectory to healing.
CAMEROTA: I want to bring in Mike Kasdan from the Good Men Project. That's a group that fosters a conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. So, Mike, you have a question for both of our experts.
QUESTION: I did, thanks. So I think we're seeing in tonight's conversation, and in general, that this is a problem that's not going to go away without the active involvement of men in the solution. So my question is, for men who are seeking to be involved, to participate in helping to end sexual abuse and sexual harassment, how would you like to see them stand up as active allies?
BURKE: Well, I think there are a lot of ways men can be allies. I think there are interpersonal ways. There are ways that you can do that being civically engaged, and there are ways that you can do that systemically.
And so for a lot of individuals, like, if you've seen somebody hashtag #MeToo on your social media page, maybe reach out to that person, right? A lot of what survivors need is to be heard and to be believed. So if you're a man and you have somebody, a friend of yours, don't be afraid to say, listen, I saw that, and I just want you to know that I'm here.
But beyond that, if you want to be proactive, there are many organizations across the country who actively engage men in doing this work. So, seek it out. Like, a simple Google search will help you find -- you know, Men Can Stop Rape. There are a lot of different organizations out there that exist. Men have to be proactive. You have to stand up and want to engage, sort of what Matt was saying. You have to want to engage. And there are a lot of people waiting to help you do that.
CAMEROTA: Matt, what's your call to action for men?
MCGORRY: I think there's a reframing of a question that is important for us as men, and the question is not "Are we sexist?" It is, "Do we know that we are sexist?"
Right? We live in a society where this is normalized, right? And unless we're watching TV and every time we see a woman is objectified, and we don't see equal representation, we're saying, "Hey, I realize that," we're receiving those messages.
So the question is not how do I be a perfect human being, right, and how do I not be a good man or a bad man, but how do I be a better man and understand that that's going to be a lifelong process, and do the sort of interpersonal work, too, which -- makes us understand that, like, we are all complicit in this as men. And we actually benefit materially from the privilege when these women are pushed out of the workplace, and unless we're actually doing something to be a part of the solution, we're sort of part of the problem.
CAMEROTA: Gretchen, go ahead.
CARLSON: Yeah, and I'm just going to say that I think it's so imperative the way in which we choose to raise our children. I have a son and I have a daughter, and I wrote an entire parenting chapter in my book, because it starts young. They watch and they see and they hear everything.
They're watching what's happening in the home, and it's my hope that we will be very careful about the messages that we're sending about gender equality to our children, because what they see when they're young is what they're going to transfer when they go into the workplace. So it's crucial the way in which we raise our kids.
And also, just on the man point, of all the thousands of women who reached out to me, these stories were so horrific, there was no gray area. It was like, "Get up on the desk and spread 'em for a raise." It was like, "Hey, let's write the sexual favors that she can do on a cocktail napkin and she'll just get an office with a window." It wasn't, "Hey, you look nice in your dress tonight."
So I don't want to confound the issue here that suddenly we're going to have all of these false allegations that are going to come forward. I think what we have to realize is that, even in 2017, this is a pervasive, scary epidemic, and it's rampant. And, again, I just want to applaud all of the people and the men, too, who have had the courage to come forward and be part of this fight.
CAMEROTA: Jessica, do you have some thoughts on what you'd like men to do?
BARTH: I do. I have some thoughts. I don't want men to be afraid to compliment women, OK? That's not what this issue is about. These stories that are coming out with assault allegations, they're not just accusing people and then people are losing their jobs. These stories are investigated. They're vetted. They're asking witnesses. I mean, they need proof before they're printing these articles.
So don't think walking down the street -- I'm sorry, not walking down the street. Don't think in your office if you say, oh, you look pretty today, that we're going to sue you for sexual harassment. That's not what this movement is about. This movement is about sexual harassment and sexual assault. I don't want people to get desensitized because they think, oh, I can't even give a woman a compliment. That's not what this is.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, and, listen, again, by having this conversation, I do think that it helps everyone understand sort of the boundaries. I think that it's important to talk about those and not just keep it all secret.
So, anyway, thank you very much all of you for that. Up next, my personal story, and it's a doozy.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: Now for a personal story.
As some of you may know, I spoke out about my experience at Fox News with Roger Ailes. But that was not my first experience with sexual harassment.
In 1988, I was a college intern at a news bureau in Washington, D.C. One day, word came down that a famous reporter and producer were coming in to work in our bureau for a couple of days, and I was assigned to help them. This was my big chance to make important contacts for a future job.
So off we went to Capitol Hill. My job would be to take notes so I could help the reporter put together his story for the evening news. But about a half an hour in, he started pestering me to have dinner with him. Part of me thought that might be good for my career. But he seemed too aggressive. So I said, "No, thank you." I told him I had to be up early.
Then he asked me to have a drink with him at his hotel. Again, I said, "No, thank you."
By that point, we were seated next to each other about to eat some breakfast. And I noticed him intensely watching me spread cream cheese on my bagel. And when I lifted it to my lips, he leaned over and whispered, "Never before in my adult male life have I ever wished I was a bagel."
Today, it's humorous. At the time, it was humiliating. I got up. I threw the bagel in the trash. Then I ran to my cameraman and said, "Save me from this guy. He's really creepy."
I begged my cameraman not to tell anybody because it was so embarrassing. But he did tell people. And a week later, I got a call from the reporter's producer. I refused to get on the phone, knowing that she would berate me for making her reporter look bad.
But she called back, and then she called again, and finally my boss made me take the call. And when I got on the phone, that producer said, "Alisyn, I heard what happened, and I am so sorry. There is no excuse for what he did and I have told him that. You did not deserve to be treated that way. And I want you to know you are terrific, and if you ever need anything in this business, you call me."
I never called that woman, until now. As we were putting together this town hall, I got a hold of her and said, "I could use your help." And Rosemary Freitas Williams joins me now.
So great to see you.
ROSEMARY FREITAS WILLIAMS, FORMER TV NEWS PRODUCER: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you so much. So, Rosemary, explain that moment. Why were you such a bad ass in 1988? OK? This isn't yesterday. This is 1988. Why did you defend a lowly, no-name intern over your big, famous reporter? WILLIAMS: Well, first of all, I hate bullies. And not all bullies are sexual predators, but all sexual harassers and predators are bullies. Also, it happened on my watch. I felt somewhat responsible. This was my correspondent. And, you know, looking back then, you were so sweet and you were so intense, and you had this blue dress on with the matching shoes, and you were going to be the best journalist ever...
CAMEROTA: I was lugging the tripod for you guys.
WILLIAMS: You were, and -- absolutely. And you -- you know, your enthusiasm was so charming, but also slightly annoying, so sending you out with a reporter for the day was great for your professional development. But, you know, you weren't just harassed; you were humiliated, as you say. And so he says this thing to you, and there are other men at the table, and then you have to spend the rest of the day with these men.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, working for him.
WILLIAMS: So I'm in an edit room, and I get -- there's another woman at the bureau who came in and said, "You cannot say anything, but I'm going to tell you something." And I said, well, it must be pretty important, and she told me what happened.
And for those in the audience who aren't familiar, when you accept a confidence, there's a thing called duty to warn, and it's harm to self, harm to others, or breaking the law. And I felt like there was a duty to warn. So I -- and I -- he's a very tall man, and I'm 5- foot-nothing, and I sat him down, and I was very close to his face, and I had a one-way conversation with him.
CAMEROTA: I'm so impressed, Rosemary, that you not only stood up for me, because obviously that went -- that made me no longer feel humiliated. It made me feel empowered -- but that you took that opportunity to tell him off. I mean, that is just so impressive. Again, this was, you know, years and years ago. And I just think that we can't say that enough. And so that's the answer, is that also women need to stand up for each other.
CAMEROTA: And I think that that's really important.
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And empowerment breaks the cycle, because getting to talk to you was very important, because shame cannot be unpacked. You immediately think, "It's something I did, it's something I said." And you have to be able to break that. That's how you break that cycle, is through empowerment.
CAMEROTA: You did it for me. Rosemary, so great. Thank you so much for being there for me all those years ago.
WILLIAMS: Well, thanks for being such a great journalist. Seriously. This is wonderful. CAMEROTA: Thank you. And I want to thank all of our brave guests.
Many thanks to our studio audience, as well. And for those of you at home, you can go to cnn.com for resources on sexual harassment. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.