“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski on Tuesday pressed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to explain why she has refused to name the lawmakers who, as the senator recounts in her new book, inappropriately commented on her weight.
Gillibrand previewed her book “Off The Sidelines” last month in an interview with People magazine and came forward with several stories about being called either “chubby,” “fat” or “porky” by male members of Congress. Those accounts then sparked a debate about whether Gillibrand had a responsibility to identify the lawmakers who made those comments.
Brzezinski and her co-host Joe Scarborough had agreed last month that it was “weak” for Gillibrand not to identify the offending colleagues by name. In their conversation Tuesday, the “Morning Joe” host asked Gillibrand why she wouldn’t “name names” and characterized the senator’s experiences as “harassment.”
“Not for me,” Gillibrand countered. “They’re not my bosses. They didn’t affect me. What this is about is how do we elevate the debate to talk about these broader challenges —“
“Wouldn’t you elevate the debate by naming names?” Brzezinski said.
“No, because then it’s all about that individual,” Gillibrand said.
“It didn’t affect me, so for me it’s much more important to elevate it to talk about this very important issue of how are women treated in the workplace,” she later added. “Why don’t we have equal pay? Why don’t we have supports like paid leave?”
Brzezinski continued to challenge that.
“Let me ask you this. Isn’t it a stronger statement when you actually point out the perpetrator?” she asked.
“Not necessarily. Those instances were irrelevant to me. I was very far along in my career,” Gillibrand said. “The instance that was far more undermining to me was when I was a young lawyer, and I worked really hard on a case. And my boss had a celebratory dinner, basically spends half the time saying ‘Look at Kirsten’s great hair cut, look how great she looks.’ I wanted to hear, ‘She’s been working so hard, she’s given up her vacations, she’s really done a great job.”