For the first time since the primary began, we finally have a debate that is a true joy to watch. Knives are out, everyone wants to murder Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar is indulging in her favorite pastime of humiliating Pete—it’s a beautiful, monstrous catharsis and exactly what everyone needed. That said, it seems that the other candidates didn’t really need to bother with Bloomberg, since he’s been doing plenty to torpedo himself all on his own. Namely, when he characterized women who have accused him of sexual harassment as simply not liking his jokes.
Bloomberg’s entire exchange with Warren on the subject was striking. It came after Bloomberg demanded his full time so that he might explain why he’s actually a huge supporter of women and the #MeToo movement—why, did you know he even pays them as much as men? Warren pushed back forcefully, in a way Bloomberg, a billionaire who surrounds himself with sycophants, almost certainly isn’t used to. He did not fare well.
WARREN: I hope you heard what [Bloomberg’s] defense was: “I’ve been nice to some women.” That just doesn’t cut it. The mayor has to stand on his record, and what we need to know is exactly what’s lurking out there. He has gotten some number of women—dozens, who knows—to sign nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace. So Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?
BLOOMBERG: We have very few nondisclosure agreements.
WARREN: How many is that?
BLOOMBERG: Let me finish. None of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told. And let me just—there’s agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet, and that’s up to them.
Meanwhile, as Bloomberg is on national television accusing these women of being humorless scolds, they remain bound by the NDAs that forbid them from speaking for themselves. By the time the segment was over, Bloomberg had repeatedly turned down direct invitations to release them from those gag orders, which he described as “consensual.”