Election '18

CNN Threatened With Lawsuit After Reporting GOP Candidate's Gross Comments About Women

Andrew Kaczynski reported on Rep. Jason Lewis' prior comments as a talk radio host. Lewis' former broadcaster is now threatening to sue CNN.

Photo Credit: U.S. House Office of Photography

This week, a new report from Andrew Kaczynski of CNN's KFile revealed yet another round of shocking comments made by Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) during his days as a right-wing talk radio host. In the clips, from a show in November 2011, Lewis mocked women who feel traumatized by sexual harassment in the workplace.

"I don't want to be callous here, but how traumatizing was it?" said Lewis, his voice breaking at times into a mocking pitch. "How many women at some point in their life have a man come on to them, place their hand on their shoulder or maybe even their thigh, kiss them, and they would rather not have it happen, but is that really something that's going to be seared in your memory that you'll need therapy for? You'll never get over? It was the most traumatizing experience? Come on! She wasn't raped." He also argued that sexual harassment law was a violation of the First Amendment.

Incredibly, the story has now drawn a legal threat. On Thursday, Lewis' former broadcaster, Genesis Communications Network, sent a "cease and desist" letter to CNN, threatening a copyright infringement lawsuit for use of material from Lewis' old shows.

For their part, neither CNN nor Kaczynski are backing down, and nor do they have any reason to. The threat is completely baseless; "fair use" law in the United States allows the use of snippets of copyrighted work without the permission of the owner, in the context of commentary, criticism, or parody.

Lewis' campaign has declined to comment on the matter.

The radio program, in which Lewis styled himself "America's Mr. Right," was a known part of his resume when he was first elected to Congress in 2016 — he used the show to help launch Michele Bachmann's failed presidential bid. But the show has become a matter of increased controversy as journalists have gone back through his commentary, which is full of toxic and inflammatory rhetoric.

As a talk radio host, Lewis complained that single women are "simply ignorant of the important issues in life," compared gay marriage and taxing the rich to slavery, and bemoaned the fact that it's not socially acceptable to call women "sluts" anymore.

Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, which Lewis represents, covers the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities, and while voters there have consistently elected Republicans for over a decade, they also voted for President Barack Obama twice. Lewis' Democratic opponent is Angie Craig, an openly gay former newspaper reporter and human resources director best known for winning a landmark case in Tennessee that made her and her partner the first lesbian couple to adopt in the state. She previously ran against Lewis in 2016, losing by less than 2 points, and is ready for a rematch.

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.