Ladies and gentlemen, meet Rachel Marsden. I predict she is going to provide us with hours and hours of schadenfreudelicious fun in the very near future. Ms. Marsden is Fox News's newest rising star, a statuesque former contributor to the O'Reilly Factor who has been installed as a co-host on Greg Gutfield's nightly laugh-less frat boy circle-jerk, Red-Eye.
Rebecca Traister at Salon has filed a dossier on the Girl from Mars(den) and apparently Pox News has hired her on knowing that she is a perfect storm of attention-seeking behaviors and that her inevitable messy public explosion will be prove to be ratings gold, or they hired her because someone high up thinks she's hot and doesn't want to be bothered with the more sordid and alarming aspects of the young conservative pundette's history.
Traister's article, Fox's Ann Coulter 2.0 gives us a quick rundown of Marsden's resume:
It was all business as usual at "Red Eye," Fox's bawdy gabfest of a grab at a youthful audience, starring Gutfeld, comic foil Bill Schulz, and Marsden, a statuesque Canadian who dissects the news with as much Coulter-esque zeal as she can muster while rolling her eyes at her male counterparts. But in the Duke exchange, any viewer who knew anything about Marsden, whom Fox is clearly grooming for brand-name pundit stardom, might have felt a fleeting moment of sympathy for her. That's because the 31-year-old columnist is already well known in her native Canada as an oft-accused and once-admitted stalker who made questionable rape charges of her own 10 years ago, in a case that eventually cut short the career of a university president and changed the tenor of harassment cases all over Canada. In 1999, a professor at the same university went to the police with charges Marsden was stalking him, and in 2004 she pleaded guilty to criminally harassing a former Vancouver radio host.
Oh, surely all that must be some kind of misunderstanding. Fox News would never hire on anyone who is absolutely, obviously certifiably unbalanced and potentially dangerous, would they? Would they?!
Marsden grew up in a suburb of Vancouver. Her father, Claude, was a high school teacher who in 2000 had his teaching license suspended after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old student.
Godammit. For the last time, conservatives. Incest and child molestation are NOT "FAMILY VALUES", okay?! Jesus. Get it right!
It was swimming that led Marsden to meet Liam Donnelly at the Westminster Club where they both swam in 1990, when she was 15 and he 22. Three years later she enrolled to study biology at the famously progressive, Utopian Simon Fraser University, where Donnelly was swim coach. In 1995, she accused Donnelly, who was not her coach, of sexual harassment and date rape, claiming that he repeatedly molested her over the course of a 16-month friendship/relationship. Donnelly claimed he was innocent, and on the advice of a lawyer, boycotted the university's investigation into Marsden's claims.
In 1997, SFU fired Donnelly. The university agreed to pay Marsden $12,000 to compensate her for injury to her feelings and the academic scholarship she lost during the case. It was reported that they denied her request to be part of the hiring process for a new swim coach.
According to Donnelly, Marsden had been stalking him for years, making multiple hang-up calls and showing up at his home. Donnelly claimed that this behavior had begun as early as 1992 but had worsened over time. He alleged that by 1995, someone he believed to be Marsden had vandalized his car, strewn condoms in his driveway, posted graffiti advertising his number as a phone-sex line in campus bathrooms, subscribed to Playboy in his name, and left phone messages for him with a voice-altering machine. Donnelly later told the press: "She was everywhere. She would turn up at events where I was working. She was phoning me all the time … She admitted she bought a voice-altering machine. That was the one that scared me the most. It sounds like the devil."
Wow. Twenty years old and she had already perfected the intricacies of the Double Reverse Malkin with a lawsuit lay-up. She was a veritable prodigy!
The case apparently polarized the SFU campus. Feminists and women's activists rallied around the attractive, but troubled young woman. That proved to be a grave tactical error.
Simon Fraser's harassment policy coordinator Patricia O'Hagan, with whom Marsden became close during the university's investigation into her claims, also left her job in the wake of the scandal. O'Hagan later alleged that Marsden had harassed her, claiming to reporters that the student had called her more than 400 times, tracked her down after she'd changed her number, and signed letters, "love from your daughter who loves you a lot." Marsden responded in kind, claiming that she referred to O'Hagan as mother to "set boundaries" with the older woman, who she said had repeatedly hugged and kissed her. "I felt strange," Marsden told the press, "and wondered what her intentions were." O'Hagan's lawyers told the press she "vehemently denie[d]" that she had had "any type of physical relationship" with Marsden. Two days after O'Hagan's harassment claim, it was reported that Marsden showed up at a conference at which O'Hagan was the guest speaker.
The sordid saga wreaked havoc on the lives of Marsden, Donnelly, O'Hagan and Stubbs. But it also took a steep ideological toll on feminists.
Exactly. When a person does a thing like this, it damages the credibility of genuine victims of sexual harassment and assault. It perpetuates the misogynist Right Wing myth that women routinely make up charges of sexual abuse and harassment to carry out personal vendettas.
The story keeps going, though:
Marsden eventually returned to SFU as a student, telling the press that she had nowhere else to go and had been living in her car. University officials warned her to keep her distance from Donnelly, and remove reference to him from her Web site, or else get thrown out of student housing. It was around this time that criminologist Boyd, then 47, accused her of stalking him.
By phone, Boyd explained that as he had been a vocal critic of the school's handling of the Donnelly case, he was surprised when Marsden showed up to take one of his classes. The university denied his request to be exempt from teaching her, but agreed that he wouldn't have to evaluate her, since it might be a conflict of interest. Boyd said that partway through the semester, Marsden sent him an e-mail saying that it was going so well, she thought he should be able to grade her. When he refused, he claimed, she began phoning and e-mailing him frequently, asking him out, and "showing up after talks I gave in the community, or after classes, wherever I might be." But Boyd, who has a background in law, kept all her calls and e-mail messages. In 1999, Boyd took these records to the police, who reportedly warned Marsden to stay away from him. According to Boyd, she did.
Marsden was next charged with criminally harassing former Vancouver radio host Michael Morgan in 2002. According to the statement of facts in the case, Marsden and Morgan met in 2001; soon after, he called the police when Marsden sent a teddy bear and flowers to his home. Marsden was warned to stay away from Morgan. But according to court documents, contact resumed and the two began a consensual sexual relationship several months later. When Marsden traveled to the U.S. in 2002, Morgan began dating another woman. According to the court summary of events, this didn't go over well with Marsden, and she began calling and e-mailing him repeatedly, also contacting his new girlfriend, his sister, his son and his business partner, and waiting for him outside his apartment. Police investigated at Morgan's house, where they listened to several phone messages from Marsden described in court documents as "vindictive and threatening." Morgan turned over 38 e-mails sent by Marsden between Sept. 20 and Oct. 10, 2002. According to the court, Marsden also rigged Morgan's computer to send her blind copies of every e-mail he sent to anyone.
No word as to whether or not she boiled any of his pets.
Things have been mostly on the level for Rachel since then, unless you count getting fired from the office of a Canadian Minister of Parliament for working under a phony name and lying on her web-site and resume about her employment history and qualifications. One has to wonder what (if anything) Fox News is thinking.
And whatever prompted Fox's willingness, or eagerness, to take a chance on her — for her brains, or her legs, or perhaps even for the scandalous coverage they knew perfectly well she would eventually generate — speaks to the kind of shifts in political coverage that these post-Coulter years have brought.
Actually, I choose to take it as a sign of the quiet desperation that is surely taking hold over at Fox as their ratings slip. A standing record of malicious deception, erratic behavior, and spectacular narcissism should make her fit right in among their other botched and bungled Reich Wing spokesmodels. In fact, this sort of gives me an idea.
Could someone pass along to Rachel that both Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly secretly yearn for her? Someone tell her that they both love teddy bears and flowers and hundreds of long, romantic emails a day? For me? Please?