The Trump rape claim

It is often a mystery why some news stories become major stories and others stay below the radar. For weeks there has been a low-grade story about Donald Trump floating around, and the national political press corps has been avoiding dealing with it.

In the 1993 book Lost Tycoon, Ivana Trump was quoted—based on a sworn affidavit—saying that her former husband Donald Trump raped her during their marriage. According to Talking Points Memo, the affidavit says “Trump flew into a rage, attacked her, held her down and began pulling hair out of her head to mimic his pain and then forcibly penetrated her.”

In the years since, relations between the two have improved and Donald Trump has elicited statements from her to ameliorate the rape charge. But she has never recanted it. Yet few journalists have raised the issue with the candidate.

Trump seems—even now, as a candidate—amazingly preoccupied with sex in general and rape in particular, which would seem to call for some scrutiny from journalism, but that has not happened except when he makes sensational statements that are impossible to ignore. It’s hard to believe in this day and age, but some media entities may be uncomfortable with the topic.

In 1992, after boxer Mike Tyson was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, Trump came up with the idea that Tyson—instead of going to jail—should pay a fine and then Trump would manage his fight career. The billionaire made a disagreeable appearance on the Letterman show, seeming to suggest that Washington had invited the rape by dancing in a hallway outside Tyson’s hotel room.

His announcement of presidential candidacy, of course, dealt with rape and immigration: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

When Trump cited a Fusion article for his source on the rape claim, a reporter pointed out that the piece dealt with women and not with immigration. Trump replied, “Well, somebody’s doing the raping, Don. I mean somebody’s doing it. Who’s doing the raping?”

Trump even freaked out when Marco Rubio said of him, “And you know what they say about men with small hands.”

Last weekend, Trump called Bill Clinton a rapist and later produced Juanita Broderick, one of Clinton’s accusers from the 1990s.

When one reporter raised the issue of Ivana Trump’s accusation, Trump spokesperson Michael Cohen said, “You’re talking about the front-runner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse. … It is true. You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”

It is not true. Nearly every state addresses spousal rape. Nevada Revised Statute 200.373, for instance, reads, “It is no defense to a charge of sexual assault that the perpetrator was, at the time of the assault, married to the victim, if the assault was committed by force or by the threat of force.”

Given Trump’s history of verbally describing women as “disgusting animals,” “fat pigs,” and other such terms, and given further reports that he has sexually harassed women, journalists need to report this story like any other. The affidavit, if it exists, should be brought to light.

Journalism needs to do its job.