Top 10, Top 20, Top 100 — you find your list. Or even rely on Richard Posner‘s pre-9/11 list, and public intellectuals who are not SLAMs or SCAMs (and not fiction writers) are not women. They are the default identity: straight liberal Anglo men or straight conservative men — the defaults or the embodiments of the “norms,” the 5 percenters.
I’ve been teaching this in Writing Politics for so many years it gets boring, old, trite, frustrating, maddening . . . oops, now I sound like a w/b-itch . . . something not nice, I suppose. The first repair is please, please, please let’s forget Charlie Rose and Leonard Lopate and John Hockenberry and start filling the NYC airwaves with women public-intellectual interviewers.
The second repair — stop featuring how difficult it is to spot sexual harassment. The definition is very, very clear, and the difference between civil and criminal law is VERY basic, yet even Brian Lehrer seem to have a problem with this.
The first thing is that you can’t say you didn’t know it was happening (male or female bosses either). Indeed, the only reason sexual harassment — not pay inequity, nor paycheck discrimination — has had any impact since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is that the federal courts (including the Supremes) put their employers/managers/co-workers on the hook. The whole head-in-the-sand approach doesn’t work — in CIVIL law (not criminal law, needless to say; criminal law carries a higher burden).
Aren’t we in the Anita Hill moment for public television and public radio, meaning her bravery despite Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas taking a seat was worth it? Without her, NOW would not have increased and sexual harassment would have remained obscure (even though the press still can’t get a definition of it . . . or explain the difference between sexual crimes and civil crimes).
Here’s an exercise. Compare the Forbes 400 with any top list of PUBLIC intellectuals and you might well find yourself on a stick, a broom, etc. You get the idea.
Now, I get it for Roger Ailes/Rupert Murdoch’s baby Fox News(?), but public radio and public television, particularly in New York City, being conducted or run by mainly men?
To be sure, Terry Gross could don a cool cape and fly from station to station, but she’s only one person. . .
Here’s my challenge — don’t submit your pledge until we’ve heard bell hooks, Melissa Harris-Perry, or anyone but Doris Kearns Goodwin* absolutely refuse to interview for these openings. This could be a call-in or petition campaign we might actually win!
* (who signed more than one settlement for more than one case of plagiarism — or one of the ultimate public intellectual civil crimes — unconscionable in my book 🙂 )