Women need to know what’s on Donald Trump’s 'Apprentice' tapes
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The ugly truth about Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE is finally coming to light. The release of the “Access Hollywood” tape shocked voters by revealing what Trump really thinks about women and his pride in using his celebrity as a blank check for sexual assault. Now, the election may turn on what further evidence exists of Trump’s hate speech, rampant misogyny, or wrongdoing.

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Hollywood producer Mark Burnett and MGM Television have that evidence, and they have an obligation to release it. Voters have a compelling need to view and hear what this man says about those issues behind the scenes.

In eleven years of hosting “The Apprentice,” Trump traded on his narcissism and his bullying approach to leadership. The show fed his gargantuan ego and wakened his basest impulses. What the Republican nominee said behind the closed doors of his reality TV show boardroom is directly relevant to the decision U.S. voters are about to make as an electorate. How he treated women, how he spoke about women, how he expected his employees and acolytes to regard women speaks not only to his character, but to his ability to lead a nation and command a government.

Trump says that his demeaning and abusive comments about women were meant to be “entertaining.” Who does Trump — and the elected officials who support him — think would find that sort of hate speech entertaining? He has been shown once again to possess indefensible views and an irredeemable character, and leaders like Speaker of the House Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate nearing deal on defense bill after setback On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Schumer eyeing Build Back Better vote as soon as week of Dec. 13 MORE can no longer pretend Trump is an acceptable candidate for president.

Women, and the men who care about women’s dignity and humanity, will be voting. We will be telling our friends and family to vote. We will be driving our grandparents, neighbors and friends to the polls to vote. This is not a drill. Women can stop Trump, and that’s exactly what we’ll do.

What we can’t afford is for the political climate to become so poisonous that women will stay home, and unwittingly elect Donald Trump. That’s why it’s so important that we know the full extent of his hateful attitudes and conduct towards women.

In a joint statement, MGM and Burnett, who worked with Trump as the producer on “The Apprentice,” cited “various contractual and legal requirements” that restrict their ability to release the tapes. But as legal analysts like Dan Abrams of ABC News have said, that statement doesn’t say much about the terms of the deal being cited.

"As a legal matter, he may be right that he signed a contract, that he's only allowed to release it for X, Y and Z reasons," Abrams said. "That's a very different question from 'Is he trying to prevent people from releasing it?'"

The public interest overrides any confidentiality clauses Burnett or MGM may be hiding behind. Those clauses are not intended to shield a presidential candidate from scrutiny that he himself has invited by making his racism, xenophobia and misogyny a campaign issue.

Our media institutions have a legal obligation to be fair and to protect the public interest. It’s encouraging that in the days since the “Access Hollywood” tape was released, NBC News has suspended Billy Bush, who reportedly bragged about the existence of the tape to NBC staff while covering the Rio Olympics. But more needs to be done in workplaces across the country to root out the kind of behavior that he engaged in.

History can turn on a single act, one decision to do the right thing. Mark Burnett and MGM Television have an obligation to take that step today and release “The Apprentice” tapes.

O'Neill is the president of the National Organization for Women.


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.