‘Come on! She wasn’t raped’: in radio recordings, US lawmaker Jason Lewis mocks harassed women
- Republican Jason Lewis’ previous career as a radio shock jock is back to haunt him
- In 2012 he ridiculed the idea that a woman kissed against their will or grabbed on the thigh had undergone a traumatising experience
Republican UN Representative Jason Lewis, locked in a tight re-election battle in Minnesota, is facing fresh controversy over past comments as a conservative talk-radio host, this time for mocking women who said they were traumatised by unwanted sexual advances.
CNN, which has delved into past recordings of Lewis’s show, found audio from a November 2012 broadcast in which Lewis talks with a caller about allegations of sexual harassment that had been levelled against then-Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain from his tenure as president of the National Restaurant Association.
“I don’t want to be callous here, but how traumatising was it?” Lewis said of the women who had made allegations against Cain. “How many women at some point in their life have a man come on to them, place their hand on their shoulder or maybe even their thigh, kiss them, and they would rather not have it happen, but is that really something that is going to be seared in your memory that you’ll need therapy for? You’ll never get over it?”
Lewis then shifted tone, speaking as a distraught woman. “It was the most traumatising experience …” he said. “Come on! She wasn’t raped.”
CNN said Lewis and his campaign did not return requests for comment. A call to his campaign by The Washington Post was not immediately returned Friday.
The Jason Lewis Show, a syndicated radio programme, aired from 2009 until 2014. Lewis was elected to the House in 2016 to represent a suburban Minnesota district south of Minneapolis and St Paul.
In the latest batch of recordings, Lewis also said in 2012 that “I detest sexual harassment law,” CNN reported.
“Sexual harassment law bestows in the eye of the beholder anything he or she wants it to be it,” Lewis said. “It distorts our free speech rights. The law is wide enough to drive a semi through.”
CNN previously reported that Lewis, amid the uproar over law student Sandra Fluke’s advocacy for mandatory insurance coverage for birth control in 2012, lamented that it was no longer acceptable to refer to sexually active women as “sluts.”
Also in 2012, the network reported, Lewis made broad and demeaning statements about African-Americans, saying they had an “entitlement mentality” and are “addicted” to government subsidies.
In the thick of the 2012 presidential campaign, Lewis also repeatedly belittled those receiving government assistance, calling them “parasites” and “scoundrels.”
After CNN unearthed those statements in July, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters that he separated Lewis’s past career with his present service as a lawmaker.
“He was a shock jock; that was his job at the time,” Ryan said. “I’ve seen some of these comments. And I obviously don’t support those comments. But the Jason Lewis I know here, who is a congressman, is an extremely conscientious man, a very hard-working, a very effective member of Congress who has been nothing but an exemplary congressman who represents his constituents well.”