Matt Bailey takes a hard look at cancel culture and its effects on the latest episode of “Fair Questions with Matt Bailey.”
Kicking off the show was a look at the latest on embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and his refusal to step down amid scandals involving nursing home deaths in his state during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as allegations of misconduct by nine accusers.
Bailey welcomed former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to discuss the Cuomo saga. The former Republican leader, who served 2010 – 2014, said he would rather “defer to the people” of New York on whether their Democrat governor should resign.
As for Cuomo’s pandemic response, McDonnell said he gives “leaders a pass” for decisions made early on in the coronavirus outbreak, though he insisted he was not necessarily defending Cuomo.
“Bad judgment? Perhaps,” he said, adding that the governor “clearly” had “limited good medical advice” at the time the pandemic ravaged New York last year.
McDonnell added, however, that “if he’s intentionally trying to downplay the results of what turned out to be a bad healthcare decision by putting all these elderly people back in nursing homes…and if he intentionally made sure these numbers were underreported in order to make him look good, then that’s a serious problem for him,” especially in light of his daily press conferences, his Emmy Award and his book “about how great his leadership was.”
If the accusations against him are true, McDonnell told Bailey, then “the hypocrisy is just palpable,” adding how Cuomo and others jumped on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process and he is now facing nine accusers himself.
McDonnell seemed willing to cut Cuomo some slack, considering his own career challenges. The former GOP leader was the first Virginia governor to be indicted or convicted of a felony when he and his wife were indicted on federal corruption charges in 2014. In 2016, however, the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out his conviction.
Although he said he “can’t make that assessment” for Cuomo or others about if and when to step down amid allegations and controversy, McDonnell said , at some point, it can all get in the way of accomplishing the work one was elected to do.
“If the combination of investigations, and allegations and calls for resignation are so significant that you’ve lost the confidence of the people you govern, then you should step down,” he said.
“Fair Questions” continued on to see “how cancel culture affects people’s personal lives,” as Bailey welcomed Alec Klein, an award-winning journalist formerly of the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Klein was a professor for more than a decade at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism – where he led the Medill Justice Project – but resigned after being caught in the crosshairs of the #MeToo movement. Bailey described Klein’s 2020 book “Aftermath: When It Felt Like Life Was Over,” as an attempt by the author to “perform a post mortem” on the #MeToo movement.
Klein told the host that it’s a “complicated story” as he recounted how he led the Medill Justice Project at the university which investigated wrongful convictions before he found himself on the “other side” when a former employee leveled accusations of misconduct against him and the media perpetuated the “wildly false” narrative.
Klein noted that he was never sanctioned or fired over the list of grievances brought against him but he voluntarily resigned so as to protect his family. He revealed that his father had attempted suicide during the ordeal and he had considered taking his own life as well at one point.
“The way the cancel culture works, it doesn’t matter if the accusations are true or not, it’s just the accusations themselves that, when thrown out there, immediately destroy the individual,” he said.
He went on to note that, in order for America to get back to its founding ideals, which do not include today’s cancel culture methods, it will take people to “stand up” and declare “enough is enough.”
Bailey ended the latest “Fair Questions” episode with a previously recorded segment of his thoughts on cancel culture.
“Cancel culture virtue-signalers claim that getting rid of all things they deem toxic in society will help us become the America we want to be,” he said, noting that – in some special cases – the outward expression can be acceptable. However, it should be “reserved for the worst among us.”