Time’s up for Tina Tchen

Tina Tchen has resigned from her position as president and CEO of Time’s Up, an organization whose mission, purportedly, is to protect women from harassment. Tchen’s resignation follows that of Roberta Kaplan, who co-founded Time’s Up with Tchen and succeeded her as its head.

Kaplan resigned after it was revealed that she assisted in Andrew Cuomo’s effort to smear Lindsey Boylan, one of the women who accused the then-governor of sexual harassment. Tchen took Kaplan’s place.

As I noted at the time, however, Tchen also participated in the effort to discredit Boylan. She and Kaplan both reviewed a letter to the New York Times that Cuomo’s team drafted pursuant to that effort. The letter attacked Boylan. Kaplan and Tchen said the letter would be fine with a little tweaking.

Tchen nonetheless tried to hang there. However, the optics of having her head an organization that supposedly protects women from sexual harassment, as opposed to protecting big-name Democrat predators from sexual harassment victims, were too hard to take.

In her resignation statement, Tchen said:

I am especially aware that my position at the helm of TIME’S UP has become a painful and divisive focal point. Those very women and other activists who should be working together to fight for change are instead battling each other in harmful ways.

In other words, Tchen has resigned because her presence is divisive. There is no acknowledgement here that she did anything wrong.

During a panel discussion the day of her resignation, Tchen did “say:

We clearly see how we can be used as cover. And let’s be clear – what I believe happened with the Cuomo administration was we were used as cover in ways I had no understanding of until the AG’s report. That’s a problem, and we can’t let that happen. Our movement cannot be used as cover for folks who are trying to actually go at survivors or others.

Thus, Tchen pleads ignorance.

But that plea makes no sense. The letter she and Kaplan essentially signed off on was an obvious attempt to help Cuomo deflect a victim’s charge of sexual harassment by attacking her. Tchen and Kaplan couldn’t have viewed it any other way. And neither had any basis, other than Cuomo’s say-so, for believing that the charge against him lacked a good faith basis or was improperly motivated.

The notion that Tchen realized what was going on here only after reading the New York AG’s report is laughable. Keep in mind that Tchen is a long-time, big-time political operative.

She was one of Barack Obama’s leading fundraisers. During the first two years of the Obama presidency, Tchen was the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. After that, she served as assistant to Barack Obama and chief of staff to Michelle Obama.

Before joining Team Obama, Tchen was a corporate lawyer for a major Chicago law firm.

Tina Tchen is no one’s dupe. She knew what she was doing when she went to bat for Andrew Cuomo and against his victim. She was siding with a key Democrat against a woman with a plausible sexual harassment claim.

She did so because she’s a Democrat first and a feminist second.

The only interesting question is whether, with Kaplan and Tchen gone, Time’s Up will become feminist first and Democrat second. It is now better positioned to claim to be. Whether it will behave that way the next time a top-level Democrat faces sexual harassment allegations remains to be seen.

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