Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) says she is “stunned by the attack on black women” by President Donald Trump’s administration and "conservative talking heads."
In a tweet posted Wednesday afternoon, Lee singled out three women in particular who she believes have been systematically targeted: veteran White House correspondent April Ryan, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and former national security adviser Susan Rice.
I am stunned by the attack on Black women by the Trump Admin and conservative talking heads: April Ryan, Maxine Waters and now Susan Rice!— Sheila Jackson Lee (@Sheila Jackson Lee)1491424305.0
Last month, Ryan, a reporter for the American Urban Radio Networks, made headlines over her clash with White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who told the Washington bureau chief to “stop shaking her head” — a remark many observers immediately claimed was both “racist” and “sexist.”
Ryan, for her part, said she is concerned there is a “pattern” developing regarding how the White House spokesman treats women in the press. She told CNN she would be “looking more closely” into Spicer’s behavior.
Around the same time, embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly joked about Waters’ hair, saying it resembled a “James Brown wig.” Much like Spicer, O’Reilly was swiftly lambasted for his “racist” and “sexist” attack. The Fox News anchor quickly apologized for the “dumb” comment, but the damage was already done.
“I am a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated, I cannot be undermined, I cannot be thought to be a friend of Bill O’Reilly or anybody,” Waters said in response. “And I’d like to say to women out there everywhere: Don’t allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you.”
And in the wake of the allegations that O’Reilly sexually harassed multiple women in his years at Fox, Waters said the commentator should be thrown in jail: “Bill O’Reilly needs to go to jail,” she told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Wednesday.
So far, 47 companies have withdrawn their commercials from O’Reilly’s programming in response to the bombshell report from the New York Times, alleging that Fox and the anchor have settled several sexual harassment lawsuits for roughly $13 million.
Lastly, there’s Rice, who served as former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. This week, a report surfaced suggesting she ordered the “unmasking” of several Trump transition team associates when their communications were incidentally collected in foreign intelligence surveillance.
Rice has maintained she did nothing wrong by requesting to know the identity of American individuals who had been caught up in U.S. surveillance.
“I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have, and never would,” she said.
Trump, though, has a different take.
When asked Wednesday by the Times if he thinks Rice acted unlawfully, the president said: “Do I think? Yes, I think.” He added that he believes the controversy “is one of the big stories of our time.”
A spokesperson for Rice responded to Trump’s suggestion that Rice committed a crime, saying, “I’m not going to dignify the president’s ludicrous charge with a comment.”