Pour A Stoli While the World Burns: A Mad Men Salon

Sarah Seltzer

Hold on to your hats: the 60s are coming to Sterling Cooper! Will Don Draper and his ilk go from icons of cool to losers holding back the tide of progress?

Last week, Sarah Seltzer, Amanda Marcotte and Pamela Merritt held a spirited salon in anticipation of Mad Men’s season premiere on Sunday. This week, join us for the debrief.

Hold on to your hats: the 60s are coming to Sterling Cooper! The Purple Heart medal Don Draper fingered thoughtfully early on in the first season,
his under a false name, will cause poor Sally and Bobby Draper shame
in a mere matter of years as their dad goes from the epitome of cool to a loser holding back the tide of progress.

The irony of the Mad Men premiere coinciding with the Woodstock
anniversary has not been lost on many–it
was even the subject of Frank Rich’s column this week
.  I’ve been deeply immersed in both
worlds for days, and as I watched footage of barely-clothed women frolicking
in the mud at that seminal concert I couldn’t not think of of
the restrictive
lingerie that Amanda wrote about last week
.
Those freedom-loving hippie chicks throwing off their uncomfortable
clothes really did sound the advance call for organized feminism, even
if they thought they were merely having a groovy time. And they weren’t
the only ones rebelling.

One interview with a concert attendee from
the 1970 Woodstock film revealed the exact opposite of Don Draper’s
philosophy taking root among the younger generation. The young man told
the cameras that he wasn’t interested in "playing the game"
and climbing the corporate ladder that his dad, an immigrant, cared
so much about. "Everything I need is right here, man," he said
(or something to that effect). This "drop out" philosophy
was foreshadowed by Don Draper’s sojourn with the beautiful people he
met in California last season. They weren’t exactly hippies, but they
were rich drifter-philosophers, and their lack of ambition stunned him.

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By Woodstock, awareness of racism and a commitment to racial justice was no longer an anomaly. Many of the
white kids worshipping Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix had become like Paul Kinsey, the hipster who chides his colleagues about their lack
of engagement with civil rights and proudly shows off his interracial
relationship with Sheila, but who ends up out of his philosophizing,
pipe-smoking depth when he joins the freedom rides. As Pamela wrote, it’s part "liberal affectation."  As it is today, seminal
moments of progress are followed by a nasty backlash.

Until now, the marches, sit-ins and legal battles of the Civil Rights
era have blithely passed the Sterling Cooper folks by. It’s
an intentional move, I believe on the part of the show’s creators, a
commentary on the bubble of indifference surrounding the characters. But
the bubble will be burst before long. As the fight for equality reaches
its fevered pitch, the gang won’t be able to ignore it by going into
Don’s room and pouring a glass of Stoli, as they did in last night’s
episode. 

Spoilers ahead!

That glass of Stoli while the world burns epitomizes Mad Men,
a show obsessed with dissecting the ugliness at the top of the race-class-and-gender heap. As Roger Sterling snarkily prevents Pete Campbell from
drinking his precious Stoli, we see two contrasting types of white male
privilege. Pete and Roger are both recipients of gobs of the stuff,
thanks to their family names; but while Pete is entitled and nasty,
constantly convinced he’s gotten short shrift, Roger is an amoral pursuer
of humor, pleasure, and his own interests. The amusingly at-odds dynamic between the cynical elder and
ambitious younger ad-men reveals two equally troubling ways of handling
white male privilege. Roger doesn’t care about anything but the next
indulgence, and Pete only cares about himself. Roger may have an easier
time than Pete letting go of his power as the social climate changes–retiring
to a yacht somewhere and drinking until the onset of oblivion, while
Pete rails against the women, Jews, and African-Americans usurping his
position.

But Roger’s easygoing sarcasm is a function of his privilege. "Oh,
it’s a sad meeting," he says when he drifts in late to a
layoff session. "It wasn’t easy. I’m sure we’ll regret it,"
he recites with flat disinterest.

Roger is a Sterling at Sterling Cooper.
He can be flip, he can be witty, he can mock everyone around him and
get away with it. The further the characters climb into positions
of power, the more luxury they have to be like Roger. Even Peggy got
a crack in at the expense of her secretary last night.

Although little high drama occurred in the season premiere, I’m hoping
that the direction of Salvatore Romano’s plot will foreshadow what’s
going to happen with the rest of the season–bringing the issues that
have been previously gestured at closer to the surface. Sal, the art
department star, has long been deeply in the closet in his own mind,
not so deeply in ours. We’ve watched him turn down gentle advances from
other men and remain silent when a younger employee casually announced
his homosexuality–we’ve seen the misery his wife Kitty experienced
when Sal neglected her at dinner to chat animatedly with a male colleague.
But finally, in a sultry hotel room in Baltimore, Sal gets seduced–almost–by
a very savvy bellboy. It’s hard to watch Sal’s shocked, pleased, horrified
face as he realizes that all his years of repression might be ending,
and the writers definitely get that this is a moment of epic significance
in his life. Alas, then, his tryst is cut short by a fire alarm. As
Don skips down the fire escape with his own half-clothed stewardess
"friend," he sees Sal in a compromised position and a series
of anguished stares ensue.

But Don, himself a man of secrets, never looks better than when he’s
keeping someone else’s. As appallling as Don’s return to manipulative,
womanizing form was halfway through the episode (really, Don? An ambivalent
stewardess?), when it comes to guarding others’ hidden lives he’s as
silent as the grave, showing that he has his own, rather bizarre moral
code. He hasn’t said a word to anyone about Peggy’s baby, and I imagine
he follows suit with Sal. But at the same time he undoubtedly relishes
having juicy knowledge about those around him–he knows it will keep them loyal.

I appreciate the subtle and slow way the show develops, adding to its
mysterious tone, but I do hope Sal’s plot-line is the standard for the
season. I want more frank but rich engagement with race, more gender, more sexuality–and more smouldering,
forbidden romance while we’re at it. 

Amanda and Pamela, and readers, were you satisfied with the first episode or did it seem too slow
and enigmatic? Has Don lost any remainder of his appeal thanks to his
cheesy "It’s my birthday" line with the flight attendant?
What do we hope will happen to our heroines as they enter the turbulent
60s? Will Betty break solidly out of the feminine mystique? What will
Peggy have to sacrifice in order to make it into the boardroom? And
will Joan’s dream of a perfect life be shattered by her awful doctor
fiancée? Who will be the first in the office to follow Paul Kinsey’s
tepid lead and get involved with the radicalizing forces of the day? 

Analysis Law and Policy

After a Year, What Has the Smear Campaign Against Planned Parenthood Accomplished?

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

One year after David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress released the first of a series of videos targeting Planned Parenthood, there is still no evidence of wrongdoing by the reproductive health-care provider.

See more of our coverage on the anti-choice front group, the Center for Medical Progress here.

One year ago, David Daleiden released the first in a series of videos that he claimed proved Planned Parenthood employees were unlawfully profiting from fetal tissue donation and violating the federal “partial-birth abortion” ban. With the backing and counsel of Operation Rescue President Troy Newman and the help of a woman named Sandra Merritt, among others, Daleiden had created a front group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

He then disguised CMP as a legitimate biomedical research organization—despite overwhelming evidence, including CMP’s own corporate documents, to the contrary—and used it to gain access to abortion clinics and private meetings. The organization released 11 videos by the end of 2015; in a year’s time, Daleiden and CMP had released a total of 14 videos. All have been debunked as deceptively edited and misleading.

So what have those videos truly accomplished? Here’s a summary of the fallout, one year later.

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Lawmakers Mounted Attacks on Planned Parenthood

In response to CMP’s videos, more than a dozen conservative governors launched investigations into or tried to defund Planned Parenthood affiliates in their states. States like Arkansas, Kansas, and Utah had their attempts to defund the reproductive health-care centers blocked by federal court order. The Obama administration also warned states that continuing to try and strip Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood centers violated federal law, though that did not stop such efforts throughout the country.

Additionally, congressional Republicans began their own investigations and defunding efforts, holding at least five separate hearings and as many defunding votes. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards provided hours of congressional testimony on the lawful fetal tissue donation option available to some Planned Parenthood patients. Other affiliates do not offer such donation programs at all.

Not a single investigation at either the state or federal level has produced evidence of any wrongdoing. Still, many continue today. To date, Congress alone has spent almost $790,000 on the matter.

Violence Against Clinics Escalated

Just weeks after CMP released its first video, there was an act of arson at a Planned Parenthood health center in Aurora, Illinois. The following month, and after the release of three more smear videos, a car fire broke out behind a locked gate at Planned Parenthood in New Orleans. Abortion clinic staff and doctors around the country reported a significant uptick in threats of violence as Daleiden and CMP released the videos in a slow drip.

That violence spiked in November 2015, when Robert Lewis Dear Jr. was arrested for opening fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, a siege that left three dead. Dear told investigating officers his violence was “for the babies” because Planned Parenthood was “selling baby parts.” A Colorado court has so far deemed Dear incompetent to stand trial. Dear’s siege was not the last incident of clinic violence apparently inspired by Daleiden and CMP, but it has, to date, been the most lethal.

Dear’s next competency hearing is currently scheduled for Aug. 11.

A Lot of Lawsuits Got Filed

The tissue procurement company StemExpress and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) filed suits in July of last year. In January 2016, Planned Parenthood did the same, alleging that Daleiden and CMP had engaged in conspiracy and racketeering, among other things.

StemExpress Sued Daleiden and CMP

StemExpress, one company to whom Planned Parenthood was supposedly selling tissue, sued CMP, Daleiden, and Merritt in California state court. StemExpress asked the court for an injunction blocking CMP from releasing any more videos that were surreptitiously recorded at meetings the pair of anti-choice activists had with StemExpress staff. The complaint also included allegations of conspiracy, invasion of privacy, and conversion of property (based upon Daleiden’s taking confidential information from a former StemExpress employee, including accessing her StemExpress email account after she was no longer employed at the company).

Although it issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), the court ultimately declined to convert that into an injunction, citing First Amendment concerns that to do so would constitute prior restraint, or pre-publication censorship, on Daleiden and Merritt’s right to free speech. In other words, Daleiden and Merritt are free—at least under this court order—to continue releasing videos involving StemExpress employees while the suit proceeds.

The case is set for trial in January 2017.

National Abortion Federation Sued Daleiden and CMP

About the same time that CMP and Daleiden were battling StemExpress in court, NAF filed suit in federal court in San Francisco, alleging civil conspiracy, racketeering, fraud, and breach of contract, among other claims. Like StemExpress, NAF sought a temporary restraining order blocking any further release of the attack videos. Judge William Orrick issued the TRO and later, after a protracted discovery battle, converted it into a preliminary injunction. Thus, CMP is prohibited from publishing any videos of footage taken at NAF’s annual meetings, which Daleiden and Merritt infiltrated in 2014 and 2015, while the suit proceeds.

As they had in their battle with StemExpress, Daleiden and CMP claimed that prohibiting publication of the videos constituted a prior restraint on speech, in violation of the First Amendment. But unlike StemExpress, which was trying to prohibit the publication of videos detailing conversations that took place in a restaurant, NAF sought to prohibit publication of video footage secretly recorded at meetings. Judge Orrick found that Daleiden had waived his First Amendment rights when he signed a confidentiality agreement at those meetings promising not to disclose any information he gained at them.

And, as in other court battles, one of the preeminent claims Daleiden and his cohorts raised to excuse his tactics—creating a fake tissue procurement company, assuming false identities through the use of false identification cards, getting people drunk in order to elicit damaging statements from them, and signing confidentiality agreements with no intention of following them—was that Daleiden is an investigative journalist.

Judge Orrick condemned this argument in strong terms: “Defendants engaged in repeated instances of fraud, including the manufacture of fake documents, the creation and registration with the state of California of a fake company, and repeated false statements to a numerous NAF representatives and NAF members in order to infiltrate NAF and implement their Human Capital Project. The products of that Project—achieved in large part from the infiltration—thus far have not been pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions (at least with respect to the NAF materials) of criminal misconduct. Defendants did not—as Daleiden repeatedly asserts—use widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques.”

In an amicus brief in the same lawsuit, submitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in early June, 18 of the country’s leading journalists and journalism scholars noted that “by calling himself an ‘investigative journalist,’ Appellant David Daleiden does not make it so.”

“We believe that accepting Mr. Daleiden’s claim that he merely engaged in ‘standard undercover journalism techniques’ would be both wrong and damaging to the vital role that journalism serves in our society,” the journalists and scholars continued.

Daleiden and CMP have appealed the preliminary injunction order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case currently sits pending a decision.

Planned Parenthood Sued Daleiden and CMP

Six months after StemExpress and NAF filed their lawsuits against the orchestrators of the smear campaign, PPFA filed a whopping one of its own in California federal court, alleging civil conspiracy, racketeering, fraud, trespass, and breach of contract, among other civil and criminal allegations. PPFA was joined by several affiliates—including Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, where Dear was arrested for opening fire in November.

Daleiden has asked the court to dismiss Planned Parenthood’s claims. The court has so far declined to do so.

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt Were Indicted on Felony Charges

Daleiden and his allies have not fared well in the civil lawsuits filed against them. But both Daleiden and Merritt also have pending criminal cases. After an investigation into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast sparked by Daleiden’s claims, a Texas grand jury declined to indict the health-care organization for any criminal conduct. The grand jury instead returned an indictment against Daleiden and Merritt on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record, related to their use of false California driver’s licenses in order to gain entrance into the clinic. Daleiden was additionally charged with a misdemeanor count related to the purchase or sale of human organs.

In June, Harris County Criminal Court at Law Judge Diane Bull dismissed the misdemeanor charge. Daleiden and Merritt’s attorneys, who called the dismissal a victory for the anti-choice movement, are still trying to get the felony charged dismissed.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Cable News Turned Mostly to Men to Discuss Clinton’s Historic Moment

Ally Boguhn

Even as Hillary Clinton seemed to clinch the Democratic nomination, cable news shows barely had women on to discuss this moment. Also this week, Sen. Marco Rubio announced that his political aspirations didn't end with his presidential run.

This week on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton becoming the first female presumptive nominee of a major party wasn’t enough to push cable news to bring on women to discuss it, and former presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) changed his mind about running for re-election to the Senate. 

Cable News Turns Largely to Men to Discuss ElectionEven Amid Clinton’s Historic Moment

When Clinton became the first female presumptive nominee of a major party earlier this month, cable news tapped more men than women to discuss the historic moment.

As Gender Avenger Founder Gina Glantz, Women’s Media Center President Julie Burton, and Center for American Women and Politics Director Debbie Walsh explained in a Tuesday column for USA Today:

On the day when headlines and large photos of the former secretary of State celebrated her historic role in American politics, not one woman appeared on Fox News’ The Kelly File. In fact, the only time Hillary Clinton was mentioned was when Megyn Kelly speculated about the cost of her wardrobe, referred to a focus group discussing Clinton’s supposed divisiveness and considered whether President Obama’s endorsement would create a conflict of interest with the investigation of her State Department emails. 

Other cable shows did a bit—just a bit—better. On CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and the MSNBC, Fox, and CNN morning shows (Morning Joe, Fox & Friends, New Day) about one in three of the voices in their discussions were women. Only The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC hit 50%.

Gender Avenger, an organization that seeks to “build a community that ensures women are represented in the public dialog [sic]” has partnered with the Women’s Media Center and the Center for American Women and Politics to release monthly reports on how many women appear to discuss the 2016 presidential elections on some of cable news’ most-watched television programs. According to its website, the organization “monitors the highest-rated morning and evening shows on three major television news networks: CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. Any guest who is not the host (or substitute host) and is asked to comment substantively on the 2016 presidential election is counted as an analyst.”

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Analyzing data from March 1 to May 31, the groups found that only CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 had roughly equivalent ratios of men and women on to discuss the election. Of the other nightly programs, only 15 percent of guests who joined Fox News’ Kelly File to talk about the presidential election were women; 33 percent of guests on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show to discuss related issues were women.

All morning programs examined had a poor ratio of men-to-women guests who discussed the election: CNN’s New Day had 31 percent women guests, Fox News’ Fox and Friends had 22 percent, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe had 24 percent.

Glantz and her co-authors explained in their column that these findings coincide with past research from the Women’s Media Center, which found that “in 2014, men reported 65 percent of all U. S. political news stories.” 

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Rubio Decides to Run for Senate Re-Election

After losing the 2016 Republican nomination for presidentand spending months of vowing he would be a “private citizen” in JanuaryRubio has decided to run to keep his Senate seat.

Admitting that he had previously expressed frustrations at the limitations of what he could accomplish in the Senate, (remember, he justified skipping Senate votes because of his “frustration” with the process), Rubio cited the importance of Florida’s position in determining which party would hold the Senate as a key factor in his decision. “Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida,” said Rubio in a press release announcing his decision. “The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

Rubio went on to point to the 2016 presidential as another component to his decision to run for re-election, reasoning that “no matter who is elected president, there is reason for worry.”

Calling Donald Trump’s rhetoric about women and people of color “not just offensive but unacceptable,” Rubio noted that the prospect of electing the presumptive Republican nominee to the White House was “worrisome.” He also criticized Clinton, claiming that electing her “would be a repeat of the early years of the current administration, when we got Obamacare, the failed stimulus and a record debt.”

Rubio’s late-entrance into the race was not unexpected. Last week, Rep. David Jolly dropped out of the GOP primary race for the seat Rubio was supposed to be vacating, instead deciding to run for re-election to the House. Just before he announced his decision, Jolly appeared on CNN’s New Day, mentioning that “Marco is saying he is getting in [the race],” seemingly referencing rumors Rubio would be running.

The New York Times reported that Rubio has already told “colleagues and advisers that he is considering running for president again, in 2020 or 2024.” Yet Rubio told CNN today that “if my plan was to run for president in 2020, jumping into a race like this with all the political risks associated with it would not be the decision one would make.” He did not, however, explicitly rule out a presidential run.

The Florida senator’s time in the presidential race this season was marked by anti-choice positions so extreme even some Republicans questioned his electability. As Rewire previously reported, “Rubio’s anti-choice views were a key part of his platform throughout his campaign, even leading him to create an advisory board of anti-choice leaders and activists to advise his campaign on how to chip away at abortion rights.”

What Else We’re Reading

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Friday said he would vote for Clinton to “focus on defeating Republican Donald Trump,” according to CNBC.

A Moody’s Analytics analysis released Monday found that electing Trump to the presidency would hurt the economy “significantly,” leading to a nationwide recession.

“I hate the concept of profiling. But we have to start using common sense,” said Trump on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, seemingly suggesting that the United States should indeed begin profiling against Muslims.

Ann Friedman wrote in New York Magazine that the “real lesson of the Obama presidency is not that our sitting president is a failure. It’s that having a president who looks like a feminist is not enough.”

Washington Posts Glenn Kessler looked into a claim made in a recent Clinton campaign ad suggesting that the Democrat had worked across the aisle as first lady on child health programs.

Did Trump’s campaign really pay $35,000 to advertising firm “Draper Sterling” (the last names, of course, of two leading characters from Mad Men)?

Aliza Abarbanel highlighted in Elle magazine the 27.3 million Latinos who will vote this November, and what they think about the election.

Politico offered a look into a campaign finance case that could be “the next Citizens United.”