Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., did not suggest Tuesday that Congress could avoid sexual harassment scandals by hiring fewer women.
Rather, the Illinois congressman said specifically that his office is looking for ways to make sure this exact thing doesn’t happen as a result of increased awareness regarding harassment.
“I have a female-led staff, and I asked them their opinion,” Davis said during the hearing. “They were concerned ... that an unintended consequence may be some offices just take a shortcut and not hire women as a way to avoid these issues.”
“Obviously that’s not the right approach,” he added.
Unfortunately for the congressman, his not-at-all ridiculous remarks have made him the target of a Twitter rage mob.
The Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel – who did nothing wrong here, let’s just emphasize that – tweeted Davis’ remarks as she covered the hearing.
“Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) says he’s worried congressional offices will hire fewer women to avoid issue of sexual harassment,” she wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) says he’s worried congressional offices will hire fewer women to avoid issue of sexual harassment.— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) November 14, 2017
That was all it took to spark a Twitter riot among politicos and pundits, many of whom assumed from Terkel’s single tweet that Davis had actually suggested Congress hire fewer women.
The Nation’s Ryan Cooper wrote, “can't see a way out of this problem...nope, it's impossible.”
“Snake eats tail,” tweeted the Atlantic’s Vann R. Newkirk II.
Francisco J. Pelayo, director of Hispanic media and Regional press secretary for the Democratic Party tweeted a single, “Unbelievable.”
“Seriously?! Excluding women from Congress is NOT how we should address sexual harassment,” said EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock.
Schriock then added in an endorsement of Democratic House candidate Betsy D. Londrigan, “Let's get this buffoon out and elect [Betsy] instead.”
The official EMILY’s List Twitter account even published a note of endorsement:
We've got a better idea than excluding women from Congress. Why don't we elect @BetsyforIL to replace you? https://t.co/zMNLKDxSry https://t.co/Q6NwI45nSC— EMILY's List (@emilyslist) November 14, 2017
Londrigan herself wrote, “Changing culture around sexual harassment starts w/leadership. Excluding women from workforce is not an acceptable solution.”
Nj.com investigative reporter Payton Guion added elsewhere, “For fuck's sake, it's not the presence of women that leads to sexual harassment/assault.”
“Don’t worry, Rod. Soon those Congressional offices will be filled with women and this won’t be an issue,” said anti-gun enthusiast Shannon Watts.
Raw Story’s Sarah Burris said, “Maybe hire fewer creeper predators? Just a thought.”
“Actual solution: hire more women in positions of power. Implement sexual harassment training. Fund sex ed programs so the future looks better. Or we can hire more women as members of Congress,” tweeted Planned Parenthood president Cecil Richards.
BBC’s North American editor Paul Danahar added, “and news now from the 1950’s and this just in from the nation’s capital Washington DC.”
As for Terkel (whose use of the word "worried" in her original tweet should have tipped off readers about Davis's meaning), she tried her best to calm the mob by pointing out Rep. Davis had not said anything wrong or controversial.
“For the record, Davis is not saying he will do this. He said he had female staffers who were concerned about this. That's why he asked what to do about it,” the Huffington Post reporter tweeted. “And Davis specifically said: ‘Obviously that's not the right approach.’ Thought it’s smart that he raised it and asked what is being done to prevent this from happening.”
She added, “Everyone chill out on Rep. Rodney Davis. He did not say he will hire fewer women to avoid sexual harassment. He asked how to prevent other offices from doing that.”
But, alas, there was no putting the genie back in the bottle Tuesday. The We Hate Davis mob continued its merry way, and they’re still piling on him for saying a thing he didn’t actually say.
God bless the Internet.