Ex-M Bret Boone makes light of sexual harassment, then apologizes
Since The New York Times reported accusations of repeated sexual assault against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein in October, it seems like you can't go more than a day or two without another high-profile man being accused of being a sexual predator.
Wednesday was no different, as two titans of media -- NBC's Matt Lauer and public radio's Garrison Keillor, host of "A Prairie Home Companion" -- lost their jobs following allegations of inappropriate behavior.
After tweeting my disappointment about the Keillor allegations, I received a direct message on Twitter from former Seattle Mariners second baseman Bret Boone, the three-time All-Star who was instrumental in the M's success in the early 2000s. That was notable in and of itself, as I don't get many (read "any") unsolicited DMs from professional athletes, former or current, let alone bat-flip and frosted-tip trailblazers like Boone.
But my jaw dropped when I read Boone's message.
"I got sexually harrased twice today," he wrote. "The Starbucks girl smiled at me and the woman at rite aid flirted with me.Im gettin a lawyer,unacceptable.lol" (sic)
After gawking at the message for a few minutes, trying to figure out why a former 14-year Major League Baseball veteran felt the need to reach out to me on the subject -- and what I should do about it -- I responded, asking him to clarify exactly why he felt like reaching out to me was a good idea.
"Because it's a joke and I have no clue who u are,nor do I care.Just sick of all the liberal bs and everyone all the sudden is offended.sorry that bothered u.go back to whatever you do in your pc world,and once again,I apologize if u were offended...You definitely would not be allowed to play golf in my foursome"
A few minutes later, he added, "Oops,just happened again,the girl at vons told me to have a good day....lol...are you serious guy."
So I decided to share the messages.
Update: Boone apologized for the messages on Twitter later in the day.
Maybe the 48-year-old Boone was earlier trying to make a bad joke. Or several bad jokes. Maybe he was lashing out for reasons only known to him. Maybe something else is going on -- Boone wrote about some of his personal struggles in his 2016 autobiography. In the aftermath of my posting of our conversation, he messaged several of my colleagues and others on Twitter, explaining that he was "sick of b******* people" and was simply "being real and telling it like it is." Then, it seems, he blocked the lot of us.
It goes against any instincts I have as a journalist to write a story in which I am a "subject," but equating politeness or even flirtation with sexual harassment is stupid and harmful. Characterizing allegations of sexual misconduct as the unfortunate byproduct of living in "PC world" shows a shocking lack of empathy and understanding of power dynamics.
Sometimes it's a journalist's job to expose creeps, even (or especially) if they're subjects, sources or colleagues. Journalists like Lauer, Charlie Rose of CBS/NPR, Glenn Thrush of The New York Times, Mark Halperin of NBC/Bloomberg and David Sweeney of NPR have each been outed for sexual misconduct at work. They won't be the last.
But sometimes the creeps do the job for you.
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