Even worse, they may not really have been joking.
Two Republican state lawmakers in Oklahoma were caught on a hot mic making what appeared to be revolting comments about an alleged sexual assault on one of their female colleagues.
KWTV-News 9 in Oklahoma City reported Monday on the disturbing interaction, which happened Monday afternoon before the start of a news conference, and identified the two lawmakers as Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore) and Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee).
"You molested this girl after Kannady did?" McBride can be heard asking.
"No, I was at the table and I allowed it," Fetgatter said in an apparent reply to McBride.
"You allowed it to happen," McBride repeated, appearing to reply to Fetgatter. "You knew it was [inaudible]."
Then McBride added: "Are you sure it wasn't a donkey or a goat?"
"Kannady," News 9 reported, likely refers to state Rep. Chris Kannady (R-Oklahoma City) — who is reportedly under investigation for an alleged spring 2017 assault against a newly elected female lawmaker.
The anonymous female legislator said Kannady "inappropriately touched" her leg under a table at an Oklahoma City restaurant where several male House members were present, and that another Republican, Rep. Kevin McDugle, "whipped out his phone" and "started showing me some porn videos."
News 9 reported that McBride and Fetgatter "appear to be joking about sexual misconduct" in the video.
But given the context of the allegations against Kannady, "joking" seems like the most charitable way to interpret their remarks. Neither McBride nor Fetgatter can be heard laughing or using a tone of voice that makes it obvious they're joking.
If their exchange wasn't a joke, it sounds a lot like Fetgatter admitting he was at the table where his female colleague was touched inappropriately and shown porn videos without consent — and that he knew it was happening, and even "allowed it" to happen.
Fetgatter explicitly denied that interpretation in a statement. "My comments have been taken out of context and were only in response to a question directed toward me," he said. "I apologize if my remarks in any way trivialized the serious nature of sexual assault. To be clear I have never seen anything inappropriate happen or sexual harassment occur during my time in the House of Representatives."
McBride has refused to comment.
It's not clear what "context" would make the exchange any less disturbing. If it was a joke, it was a very odd and extremely inappropriate joke.
And joke or not, it's horrifying to hear McBride apparently refer to his adult female colleague as a "girl," suggest that Fetgatter might have also "molested" her, and make a bizarre reference to "a donkey or a goat" that could mean any number of horrible things in this context. (Another demeaning reference to their colleague? A reference to the porn video she was allegedly shown? Something more benign, which unfortunately seems less likely?)
Sexual harassment and assault shouldn't be partisan problems — but the GOP fully embraces misogyny in a way that makes disgusting displays like this a lot more likely.
From boorish state lawmakers all the way up to Trump, Republicans keep finding new ways to make clear that the GOP is the party of rape.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.