David Mueller is the DJ who tried to sue Taylor Swift because he lost his job. Because he put his hand on her ass during a photo opportunity. He denies this. Taylor sued him back and won the case. And, if you recall, she was a boss during that trial.
David Mueller has now been hired by a radio station in Mississippi. When some of Taylor’s fans found out about it, they blasted the station for hiring someone with that kind of reputation. Larry Fuss, the owner of the radio station, spoke to the New York Daily News defending his decision. And then he sent out an email defending his decision because he and the station have been harassed by Swifties. You can read the text of that email here.
To be clear, no one should be threatening Larry Fuss and the radio station and threatening his children and his loved ones. This is wrong. And no one here is supporting those actions. If Larry Fuss’s email had been just about that, condemning the violent harassment, this conversation would be different. The problem is that Larry’s message wasn’t just about the sh-tty behaviour of a few sh-tty fans. The problem isn’t even about Larry hiring David Mueller, really. Because if he was hiring a man who needed a second chance, who had atoned for his misdeeds, who came to him, humbled, and needed a job it’d be a different story. This is not that story.
Larry Fuss, in his email, dismisses the case against David Mueller and the court that found him guilty in a civil trial. He calls the jury “seemingly star-struck”. And he basically says that even though the jury found Taylor believable, he, Larry Fuss, found that her “account of the story simply did not add up”. Then he cites the polygraph tests that David passed which are inadmissible in court – but supports their findings anyway! (Polygraph tests, more and more, are being discredited. This American Life had a great episode about it last year that you should listen to when you have time.) And then, because he met with David Mueller and they had several face-to-face discussions, Larry’s all like, yeah, we’re good.
The legal system too often does not work in favour of victims of sexual harassment and assault. When it does, those victims are often, like Taylor, privileged and resourceful. But even when it does, even when the legal system works for that privileged and resourceful victim, her story is still doubted and cancelled and the person who wronged her, without contrition, can still find a soft landing. This is why people are so frustrated. This is why people are so angry.
If the guy who groped Taylor Swift can get hired again and be supported and believed – this Larry Fuss email defending David Mueller is practically an exoneration – what hope is there for the people who get groped and AREN’T Taylor Swift?
There’s also the issue of country radio in general. KIX-92.7 is a Mississippi country radio station. Last week, I linked to a Rolling Stone report on country radio’s “dark, secret history of sexual harassment and misconduct”. It’s a long and thorough piece about what has become standard in country radio – young female artists subjected to all kinds of gross behaviour (leering, groping, sitting on laps, sexual comments about their body parts) in order to have their music promoted on the radio. It also happens to female employees.
That’s the culture of country radio described in the Rolling Stone piece. And do you wonder whether or not that culture might exist at KIX-92.7, where David Mueller has been hired? Larry Fuss, the CEO of Delta Radio, which owns KIX-92.7, insists that David would be fired “if any such incident occurs in the future”. But who gets to decide on “any such incident” if Larry has already overridden a jury’s finding and has made himself the judge and jury? What happens if you work at KIX-92.7 and it’s up to Larry Fuss to decide if your story “adds up”?