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Why sexual misconduct is too often ignored

A variety of powerful men in America have been accused of sexual misconduct, causing many to leave their careers. (AP)

Yesterday it was Matt Lauer, today it’s music mogul Russell Simmons stepping away from his empire of companies for an allegation of sexual misconduct.

sexual misconduct

On Nov. 30, 2017, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons stepped down from companies he founded following a new allegation of sexual misconduct. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Many people are wrestling with the question of why? In most of the recent cases where men have have been accused of sexual harassment to assault, they have only risen to allegations — no criminal action. But it has been enough to force many out of their careers years after the problem persisted, and only after it became public.

It reminds me of one my favorite quotes from the late president of NBC Don Ohlmeyer: “The answer to all your questions is money.”

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Case in point, a new report from Variety says that the Today Show brought in $1.25 billion a year for NBC. Over $500 million of that was in the first two hours. So when the powers that be had the opportunity to listen to the rumblings in the building, it was difficult for them to hear from behind that giant mountain of money.

Garrison Keillor? Same thing. Initial reports from yesterday say that Minnesota Public Radio stands to lose millions of dollars with the loss of his stable of shows.

One of the reasons that I believe it is easy for these powerful men to put profits over the lives of the women in their companies — to tolerate sexual misconduct — is that they may score high on the psychopath test.

I first heard about this concept from author Jon Ronson, but the checklist was developed by Robert Hare.

As I read the traits of a psychopath, keep in your mind the growing list of men connected to sexual misconduct allegations: Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, Charlie Rose, Harvey Weinstein …

In a clinical setting, a potential psychopath is graded on 20 central elements of character. Here are 14, the other 6 deal with criminality.

  • glib and superficial charm
  • a grandiose estimation of self
  • need for stimulation
  • pathological lying
  • cunning and manipulativeness
  • lack of remorse or guilt
  • shallow and superficial emotional responsiveness
  • callousness and lack of empathy
  • poor behavioral controls
  • sexual promiscuity
  • impulsivity
  • irresponsibility
  • failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • many short-term marital relationships

That description fit? Anyone else come to mind?

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The thesis of Ronson’s book is that this suite of character traits produces criminals. But in just the right mix, also occupies the corner office. The bottom line, psychopaths in business and politics know how to make money.

I’ll say it again, the answer to all your questions is money.

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