"I've been abused worse than the detainees have been abused," J.D. Gordon, then the Navy's spokesman at Guantanamo Bay told The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz in 2009, lamenting the lack of a media uproar over his accusations that a Miami Herald reporter was sexually harassing him. Two years later, though, Gordon is the spokesman for Herman Cain's presidential campaign, and confronted with questions about whether his boss sexually harassed two women while he ran the National Restaurant Association, Gordon's tone can be a bit more dismissive about those who allege a hostile work environment: "Inside-the-Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain ... political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts," he told the Associated Press. "The story doesn't hold any weight," he pleaded to Fox News's Geraldo Rivera.
But he thought his own claims were very serious. In making his case against Carol Rosenberg, who covered Guantanamo for the Herald, he wrote a letter to her editor saying, "I do not look upon her behavior as 'newsroom humor' but rather a deeply serious matter of egregious professional misconduct requiring significantly more action ... I eagerly look forward to working with the Miami Herald to assist in any investigations appropriate so that we may finally put an end to such appalling behavior by one of its reporters." The Herald did investigate. It cleared Rosenberg of everything but cussing too much, saying the paper "did not find corroboration" for Gordon's story. Executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal explained, "We found some inconsistencies in [Gordon's] version of events." (Former CNN correspondent Jamie MacIntyre said he had no memory of an incident Gordon described in which MacIntyre was supposedly directly involved.)
Rosenberg was allowed to keep her beat but told not to say so many swears, but Gordon didn't let his beef go. A year later, Gordon wrote a column for Fox News objecting to the military's decision to allow Rosenberg and three other reporters to cover the detention facility after a brief ban. Bigger newspapers had backed the Herald's push to get Rosenberg allowed back on the base. Again, Gordon complained of a media conspiracy: "Once the 'big media' were brought in to the legal picture on the banning issue, it was all but over for the Pentagon," he wrote. Asked about the incident by The Daily Caller's Will Rahn earlier this month, Gordon was a bit softer in his tone: "I think there’s a certain standard of professionalism for journalists in the workplace that everybody expects ... And that wasn't happening." Whether dismissing or making sexual harassment charges, Gordon has been nothing consistent: it's always the media's fault.
Update 3:15p.m.: Rosenberg emails with this comment: "The record is clear. Gordon's claims were unfounded, part of a long string of abusive efforts to block meaningful coverage of Guantanamo. He was removed from Guantanamo responsibilities, I was not. No further comment is merited."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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