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The Fall Of Eric Schneiderman: Gossip Speaks Truth To Power

The Fall Of Eric Schneiderman: Gossip Speaks Truth To Power
09 May
1:43

Gossip gets an overly bad rap. And leaders for centuries have attempted to exploit gossip’s terrible reputation to silence rumors and reports about their own mistakes and misdeeds. Some managers even maintain “zero tolerance of gossip” rules to shame or squelch dissent within their own teams.

But while gossip carries a stigma, many keen observers of human nature have argued that it’s a social construction that has allowed human society to flourish and to flush out abusers.

We see this again this week. In a powerful report in The New Yorker, four women came forward to accuse New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman of being guilty of the very sort of abuse that he has been fighting against so publicly.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been brought down by allegations that he committed the very sorts of abuse he has publicly campaigned against. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Knowing what we now know, a look back at a Page Six item three years ago seems frustrating, even frightening. It casually announces a seemingly amicable parting of Schneiderman and activist/journalist Michelle Manning Barish:

Sources tell us the beautiful redhead ended her relationship with the Empire State’s top law enforcer in January. One source said the pair has remained on friendly terms, and the reason for the split was because “Eric is very much focused on his political career.”

Manning Barish, who was famously pursued by Salman Rushdie, has a daughter, Bee, with her former husband, hospitality guru and producer Chris Barish. We’re told she wishes to focus on her daughter and her own career — she has a political show in development with Art Not War and is also being encouraged by friends to run for office.

That “report” is one of the more unfortunate forms of gossip—a collaborative game of subterfuge to conceal bad behavior by a person in power. Everyone says nice things in a roundabout way, everyone moves on. The victims of abuse may not get justice, but they do get to avoid harassment by media and especially by loyalists of the leader.

Manning Barish did not then plan on being a whistleblower who would bring down Schneiderman, a man whose professional work she and many others admired. As The New Yorker reports, she changed her mind after it came to light that Schneiderman abused other women just as he abused her.

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