There’s severe flooding in Mississippi.
There are people quarantined on cruise ships at this very moment, some of them with coronavirus and the others desperately wishing they were home.
There are probably even still people who, in this day and age, had their bank accounts denuded by Nigerian 419 scammers within the past few days.
In short, there are people who have had worse weeks than former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But there aren’t a whole lot of them.
After having spent almost half a billion dollars on ads in order to buy his way into being a presidential front-runner, Bloomberg arrived on stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday night looking very much a man who had never even watched one of the Democratic debates, much less prepped for one.
At the end of the night, he came away looking like Montgomery Burns without the charm.
Never before have I seen a major candidate simultaneously so unready for and so savaged by his competitors.
They hit him over his history with stop-and-frisk.
They hit him over his campaign spending.
They hit him over the fact he used to be a Republican.
And they hit him especially hard over his treatment of women.
Bloomberg never offered any effective response to this other than to say that his company was a great place for women to work and had been recognized with accolades to that effect — which isn’t exactly what’s going to endear anyone to the Democratic electorate when their competition is saying they call women “horse-faced lesbians” and they somehow manage to make things worse by saying the women who they’ve signed nondisclosure agreements with all just kind of took a joke the wrong way.
“But let me tell you what I do at my company and my foundation and in city government when I was there. In my foundation, a person that runs it [is] a woman. Seventy percent of the people there are women,” Bloomberg said in his response.
However, he did flex on his current record regarding sexual harassment or other gender-based indiscretions: “Anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it’s appropriate, they’re gone that day,” he said.
Unfortunately, even that one is going to fly in the way a penguin doesn’t. Exhibit A: Martin Sorrell.
Sorrell, for those of you who don’t know him, is a British advertising executive who was kicked out at WPP, a firm he turned from a shopping-cart manufacturer into a global marketing leader.
He’s also on the Bloomberg Family Foundation’s board — something that its namesake might indeed begin to regret after this week.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Sorrell’s removal from WPP came after allegations from female assistants who described a “toxic environment” at the company.
How toxic? One described it as “being in an abusive relationship.” Another said that there was “routine verbal abuse.”
Women at the company were subjected to “brutal and inhuman” treatment, according to the allegations.
The claims were serious enough that he was removed from his position as CEO in 2018.
When The Financial Times did a story on the matter, they found 20 to 25 employees to talk about Sorrell’s alleged verbal abuse.
According to the New York Post, he wasn’t terribly apologetic when asked about it during a Q&A with journalist Ken Auletta in Cannes, France, June of 2018.
“Am I an easy person to deal with? The answer is no. Am I demanding? Yes,” Sorrell said, in what the newspaper described as a “glib” manner.
“I don’t know who the FT talked to. They claimed to be talking to 20 to 25 people … maybe they spoke to the wrong 20 to 25 people.”
Oh, and there was the matter of allegedly using £300 of company cash to hire a prostitute, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. Sorrell denied that one in Cannes, as well.
“We’ve dealt with each and everything that’s been said and we’ve responded formally to everything that’s been said,” he said. “We dealt with that by strenuously denying. It’s not true.”
Here was his takeaway after the Q&A: “The first thing I’ve learned is never do an interview with Ken Auletta,” he said. “The second thing is never give a press conference.”
Your board member on the Bloomberg Family Foundation, ladies and gentlemen!
At least he hasn’t hired a prostitute with Mini Mike’s money — not that we know of, anyway.
Sorrell is one of those people whose name seems to attract the adjective “disgraced” before it as if by some kind of magnetic force.
I’m fairly certain there’s nobody who believes his story that doesn’t have the surname Sorrell, and even they probably have their doubts about it.
Remember what Mike Bloomberg said: “Anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it’s appropriate, they’re gone that day.”
WPP investigated Martin Sorrell and he was gone. Ken Auletta queried him and Sorrell said he was merely difficult to deal with and that maybe journalists spoke to the wrong people.
Mind you, this alleged abuse was concentrated on women, too.
If it was enough for him to be banished from the company he founded, why wasn’t it enough for Mike Bloomberg to banish him from the board of his charity?
Elizabeth Warren is right about 1/1,024th of the time, and one of those times was at the debate on Wednesday: “We are not gonna beat Donald Trump with a man who has who knows how many non-disclosure agreements and the ‘drip, drip, drip’ of stories of women saying they have been harassed and discriminated against,” she said.
Martin Sorrell is part of the drip, drip, drip that’s hiding in plain sight.
There’s probably more behind the scenes.
This is enough of a leaky faucet to turn a really bad week into a really bad campaign for Michael Bloomberg, no matter how much he wants to brag about his empowerment of women or his zero-tolerance policy on this sort of thing.
I hope he kept the receipts for those half-billion worth of television ads.
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