Journalist and beloved advice columnist E. Jean Carroll is the latest woman to accuse President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. In an excerpt from her upcoming book, What Do We Need Men For?, published in a cover story for New York magazine, Carroll describes in detail how Trump allegedly assaulted and raped her in a fitting room at the luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman in 1997.
In a statement, Trump himself has denied the claims, saying, “I’ve never met this person in my life,” despite New York’s running a photo of him with Carroll alongside her story. He insisted that Carroll is trying to promote her book, though Trump is only referenced in the section that she provided to New York and his name doesn’t appear in the title or the book’s blurb. He ended his statement with a veiled threat, saying, “The world should know what’s really going on. It is a disgrace and people should pay dearly for such false accusations.”
Despite the litany of stories about groping and other forms of sexual misconduct, Carroll’s is the first clear-cut accusation of rape against the president. (His ex-wife Ivana Trump did use the word “rape” in a divorce deposition to describe an encounter when the two were still married, but she’s since walked that back, saying she didn’t mean it in a “criminal sense.”) And the media reaction so far has been tepid. Granted, Carroll’s article came out at the same time as reports of Trump calling off a retaliatory attack on Iran and multiple stories of unsanitary and unsafe conditions inside his administration’s child detention camps.
But The New York Times ran the story in the paper’s “Books” section, well past the front page, treating it as a story about an upcoming memoir and not a rape allegation against a sitting president. As HuffPo points out, despite Carroll’s appearance on MSNBC, none of the Sunday morning shows of the five major networks—ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC—devoted more than a passing reference to her accusations. On CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter discussed it in the context of “media fatigue” over all the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct from the president.
In an interview early Monday morning, Carroll told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that Trump’s response to her accusations is no different from how he’s handled all the others he’s faced since he entered politics:
As Vox documents, Carroll is the 22nd woman to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwanted kissing to groping to full-on sexual assault. Those women include makeup artist Jill Harth, Trump’s ex-wife Ivana Trump, former model Kristin Anderson, businesswoman Lisa Boyne, former Miss Utah Temple Taggart, former Miss Vermont Teen USA Mariah Billado, Mar-a-Lago diner Cathy Heller, yoga instructor Karena Virginia, former Miss New Hampshire Bridget Sullivan, former Miss Arizona Tasha Dixon, People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff, Trump Tower receptionist Rachel Crooks, Mar-a-Lago visitor Mindy McGillivray, former Apprentice contestant Jennifer Murphy, adult film star Jessica Drake, former Miss Finland Ninni Laaksonen, former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, former Miss Washington Cassandra Searles, Trump 2016 campaign staffer Alva Johnson, former Fox News anchor Juliet Huddy, and businesswoman Jessica Leeds.
As for why Carroll waited so long to come forward, she wrote in New York: “Receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud, and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested, and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack them, never sounded like much fun.”