A couple of weeks ago, Michelle Goldberg used her column in the New York Times to focus on the ultimate sense of entitlement displayed by a subset of wealthy white guys–a subset that includes Donald Trump. These men believe they are entitled to take what they want–including but not limited to sexual gratification– without regard for the consequences to others.
The arrogant expression of entitlement has been a prominent feature of accounts relayed by the twenty-two women who have accused Trump of sexual assault and/or rape.
As details emerge about the sordid behavior of Jeffrey Epstein, it is worth pointing out–as Goldberg does–that until a falling-out, Trump and Epstein were buddies.
Epstein, indicted on charges of abusing and trafficking underage girls, was a friend of Trump’s until the two had a falling out, reportedly over a failed business deal. The New York Times reported on a party Trump threw at Mar-a-Lago whose only guests were him, Epstein and around two dozen women “flown in to provide the entertainment.”
It isn’t only Epstein. Goldberg has a list.
There’s Trump’s friend Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, who was recently charged in a prostitution sting. There’s Steve Bannon, who was once charged with domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness; Bill Shine, hired by Trump after he was forced from Fox News during the Fox sexual harassment scandals; former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who left after both his ex-wives accused him of abuse; speechwriter David Sorensen, who resigned after his ex-wife reported his violence toward her.
And who can forget Elliott Broidy, Trump pal and Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman, who resigned last year after media reports that he’d paid $1.6 million in hush money to a former playboy model who said he’d abused her and paid for her an abortion after he got her pregnant.
The casino mogul Steve Wynn, whom Trump installed as the R.N.C.’s finance chairman, resigned amid accusations that he’d pressured his employees for sex.
In 2017, Trump tapped the former chief executive of AccuWeather, Barry Myers, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Then The Washington Post discovered a report from a Department of Labor investigationinto Myers’s company, which found a culture of “widespread sexual harassment” that was “severe and pervasive.” The Senate hasn’t yet voted on Myers’s nomination, but the administration hasn’t withdrawn it.
And just this week, a senior military officer came forward to accuse Gen. John Hyten, Trump’s nominee to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of derailing her career when she turned down his sexual advances. “My life was ruined by this,” she told The Associated Press.
As Goldberg notes–and we’ve all seen– Trump’s first instinct these behaviors become public is empathy. For the entitled abuser.
In May, he urged Roy Moore, the theocratic Alabama Senate candidate accused of preying on teenage girls, not to run again because he would lose, but added, “I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win.” The president has expressed no sympathy for victims in the Epstein case, but has said he felt bad for Acosta.
Epstein is simply the latest specimen to emerge from what Goldberg accurately calls “the depraved milieu from which the president sprang.”
The accusations against Trump–and his “access Hollywood” admissions– have encouraged media attention to the operation and assumptions of that “depraved milieu” –and disclosed the smug entitlement of the men who occupy its bubble of wealth and privilege. In their twisted worldviews, women (and for those like Epstein, female children) exist only to satisfy their urges. Women who aren’t compliant deserve physical abuse.
This is an entitled worldview that goes well beyond misogyny. It’s horrifying.