THE REACTION

Sonia Ossorio, president of National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) of New York, reacts to Schneiderman’s resignation. She joins us in the studio to explain the betrayal felt by many women who thought of Schneiderman as a champion of gender equality.

Aired on May 08, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> I THINK THESE WOMEN WERE ESPECIALLY COURAGEOUS.

THEY WERE DEALING WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE TOP LAW ENFORCEMENT, ACCORDING TO THE ARTICLE, THEY WERE THREATENED NOT TO SAY ANYTHING.

AND ANY CAME FORWARD ANYWAY.

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO THIS MORNING CALLING THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN ESPECIALLY SHOCKING GIVEN HIS VERY PUBLIC ROLE AS CHAMPION OF THE ME TOO MOVEMENT AND ADVOCATE AND ALI ON WOMEN'S ISSUES OVER HIS CAREER.

IN 2010 WHILE STILL A STATE SENATOR SFR MANHATTAN SCHNEIDERMAN INTRODUCE ADD BILL TO MAKE INTENTIONAL STRANGULATION A VIOLENT FELONY.

THAT YEAR THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN BRANCH ENDORSED HIM FOR HIS SUCCESSFUL BID FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL, CITING HIS UNMATCHED WORK IN PROTECTING WOMEN WHO ARE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE.

TODAY THE ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR THE ONE-TIME ALLY TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE TO THE HIGHEST STANDARD OF THE LAW.

AND JOINING ME NOW IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN'S NEW YORK CHAPTER, SONIA ORSILLO.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU.

SONIA, FIRST OF ALL, YOUR FIRST REACTION WHEN YOU HEARD THE SHOCKING AILS?

UTTER SHOCK.

YOU HAD TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT TWICE TO LET IT SINK IN FOR A MOMENT.

DID YOU KNOW MR.

SCHNEIDERMAN?

CERTAINLY.

UM-HUM.

WE HAVE WORKED WITH HIM OVER 15 YEARS.

UM-HUM.

SO IT WAS QUITE SHOCKING TO HEAR THESE ALLEGATIONS THAT WERE VERY CREDIBLE.

UM-HUM.

AND CORROBORATED.

AND EGREGIOUS.

YEAH IT'S NOT JUST -- IT'S NOT ONLY HARASSMENT, IT'S ACTUAL ATTACKS, BUT PHYSICAL ATTACKS.

I MEAN OF THE KIND -- AND ADDED TO THAT THERE WAS RACISM INVOLVED IN SOME OF THE COMMENTS THAT HE MADE SO SOME OF THE WOMEN.

BUT MY QUESTION IS, YOU KNOW, AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, HE WAS A VERY PROGRESSIVE POLITICIAN WHICH IS WHY YOU GUYS ENDORSED HIM OVER THE YEARS.

AND I WONDER SWB SWUB SAID THIS MORNING -- AND IT SEEMED TO STRIKE A TONE WHICH IS WHY DO PROGRESSIVE POLITICIANS HAVE A SENSE OF SECURITY THAT SOME OF ENEMY CAN DO THINGS LIKE MR.

SCHNEIDERMAN DID AND ONE PERSON SUGGESTED THAT IT WAS PERHAPS THE LINGERING CONSEQUENCES OF THE -- OF THE MONICA LEWINSKY SCANDAL AND BILL CLINTON.

WHEN WOMEN ORGANIZATIONS SAID ALL IS FORGIVEN AS LONG AS THE POLITICS ARE CORRECT.

DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANYTHING TO THAT.

THAT'S BEEN A LONG TIME.

WHILE YES THERE HAVE BEEN MANY PROGRESSIVES WHO HAVE REALLY BEEN GUILTY OF REALLY BAD WAIVER IN THIS CASE UNLAWFUL BEHAVIOR, IT'S -- IT'S NOT JUST IN THAT DOMAIN.

WE HAVE SEEN OVER THE LAST YEAR THAT IT IS -- IT MEETS NO CLASS ISSUE, RACE ISSUE.

UM-HUM.

INDUSTRY, I MEAN THERE ARE MANY IN THE MEDIA, MEN IN HOLLYWOOD.

SURE.

THERE HAVE BEEN POLITICIANS FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME.

I THINK IT'S MORE AN ISSUE OF THEY BEGIN TO THINK THAT THEY'RE ABOVE THE LAW.

YEAH, AND OF COURSE IT'S NOT JUST PROGRESSIVES.

I MEAN CONSERVATIVES HAVE BEEN CHARGED AND PROVED TO HAVE BEEN ABUSERS AS WELL.

NOW, WAS THERE EVER ANY HINT THAT THIS PERSON HAD THAT KIND OF RESPONSE.

AND WE'RE ONLY ALLEGING BECAUSE IT HASN'T BEEN PROVEN.

ALTHOUGH AS YOU SAY THE WITNESSES, THE VICTIMS ARE VERY CREDIBLE.

WAS THERE ANY BEHIND BEFORE THIS?

NOT -- NOT TO ME.

UM-HUM.

AND I DON'T BELIEVE TO MANY PEOPLE.

BUT THERE IS ALWAYS A CIRCLE OF PEOPLE WHO KNOW.

UM-HUM.

WHEN YOU HAVE SOMEBODY WHO IS A SERIAL ABUSER.

YEAH.

THERE ARE GOING TO BE PEOPLE IN HIS CIRCLE WHO HAVE WITNESSED IT OR SEEN IT.

AND I THINK THAT'S THE NEXT PHASE IN THE ME TOO MOVEMENT IS THINKING ABOUT THOSE OF US WHO ARE COMPLICIT.

RIGHT.

IN ALLOWING THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOR TO FESTER.

RIGHT, ENABLES EVEN IF ONLY BY THEIR SILENCE.

UM-HUM.

BUT, YOU KNOW, THE REASON I ASK -- I'M SURE YOU'VE SEEN THIS IN THE NEWS TODAY -- BECAUSE BACK IN 30U DONALD TRUMP TWEETED WIENER IS GONE, SPITZER IS GONE NEXT WILL BE LIGHTWEIGHT A.G.

ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN?

IS HE A CROOK WORST SINCE SPITZER AND WIENER?

JUST A COINCIDENCE OR WAS HE ONTO SOMETHING FIVE YEARS AGO.

I THINK IT'S A COINCIDENCE PROCESS.

HE WAS TARGETING ANY ELECTED OFFICIAL, ANYBODY ELSE WITH POWER WHO WAS ACCUSEDING HIM OF SOME KIND OF CRIME OR LOOKING INTO BUSINESS DEALINGS.

BETRAYAL OF WOMEN.

YEAH, WE WERE TALKING IN THE GREEN ROOM.

HOW IN THE WORLD -- I MEAN UNLESS THAT SMALL CIRCLE THAT YOU WERE JUST MENTIONING, YOU KNOW, BEGINS TO SPEAK UP, AND IT'S USUALLY A SMALL CIRCLE.

YOU ARE RIGHT -- UNLESS THEY BEGIN TO SPEAK UP, WHAT DOES AN ORGANIZATION LIKE N.O.W. VET THE POLITICIANS WHOSE POLITICS SEEM TO BE FINE?

YOU KNOW, I WONDER IF WE WILL START HEARING ABOUT THESE STORIES SOONER RATHER THAN LATER.

UM-HUM.

THESE FOUR WOMEN DID NOT HAVE TO COME FORWARD.

RIGHT.

AND THEY DID IT UNDER VERY -- CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WERE -- WERE DANGEROUS.

BECAUSE HE HAD THREATENED THEM IN THE PAST.

UM-HUM.

BUT THEY CAME FORWARD AND THEY HAVE SAID THAT THEY DIDN'T WANT THIS TO HAPPEN TO ANYBODY ELSE.

AND ALSO ONCE ONE OF THEM FOUND OUT THAT THERE WERE OTHERS THAT THAT REALLY EMBOLDENED HER.

AND I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED IF WE START HEARING STORIES, GETTING THOSE TESTIMONIES FROM WOMEN WHO HAVE THE STORIES TO TELL ABOUT PEOPLE RUNNING FOR OFFICE.

SURE.

BEFORE THEY ACTUALLY GET INTO OFFICE.

SO, YOU KNOW, YOU TWEETED THIS MORNING AS IT STANDS RIGHT NOW THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY CY VANCE IS THE ONE INVESTIGATING MR. SCHNEIDERMAN.

YOU DON'T THINK THAT'S A GOOD IDEA.

TELL US WHY.

MR. VANCE WAS -- IS UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE A.G.'S OFFICE HERE IN NEW YORK.

UM-HUM.

FOR MISHANDLING OF THE HARVEY WEINSTEIN CASE INVOLVING AMBRA BATTILANA IN 2015 JOO.

RIGHT.

THAT'S AN INHERENT KRSKT OF INTEREST.

HE CAN'T BE INVESTIGATING THE AG'S OFFICE OR ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN.

SO I THINK THE MOST TRANSPARENT THING WOULD BE SOMEBODY ELSE INVESTIGATE, A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR OR ANOTHER OFFICE.

IS N.O.W. GETTING INVOLVED IN TRYING TO MAKE THE SELECTION FOR THE IMMEDIATE REPLACEMENT?

ABSOLUTELY.

WE ARE ALREADY THINKING ABOUT WHO WOULD BE A GOOD REPLACEMENT.

CERTAINLY IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE A WOMAN IN THE POSITION.

UM-HUM.

THAT WOULD BE A NICE CHANGE OF PACE.

SO THERE ARE -- THERE ARE A LOT OF CAPABLE AND READY WOMEN WHO COULD DO IT.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO, YOU KNOW, SUPPORTING SOMEONE WHO, GREAT FOR THE JOB.

WELL, SONIA THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

I KNOW IT'S A LAST-MINUTE CALL BUT I REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

GRASSIA.

DE NADA.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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