Christine O'Donnell: Piers Morgan was sexually harassing me

Trouble_Maker_Christine_O'D
Christine O'Donnell is defending her decision to walk off Piers Morgan's CNN show by saying he was asking sexually harassing questions -- including "sex questions that he would not ask of a man."

The former U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware has said that women in politics -- particularly Republican women -- are held to a double standard and suggested that that's precisely what happened Wednesday night when she and her staff put a halt to the interview. She said on the "Today Show Friday morning that the public was misled to believe that it was the questions Morgan was asking about her position on gay marriage and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that drove her off the set.

"It was not about the questions of gay marriages, as the producer very dishonestly tried to portray it. It was ... the very inappropriate, creepy line of questioning leading up to that. And I think that I was a very good sport for the first 20 minutes," she said. But it was questions that he'd asked just moments before the gay rights issues -- including one about masturbation -- that unnerved her. "Do you still think masturbation is wrong?" he asked, followed by "Have you committed lust in your heart?" 

She was so upset from those questions that she realized the interview had little chance of getting back on track.

"When they're sitting there pressing you on personal intimate questions and you're saying, 'I don't want to go there,' he could have said, 'What's your mother's name?' and I would have been like, 'Come on, let's stop!' I wanted to stop that borderline sexual harassment that was going on. It was inappropriate and he wasn't stopping."

She said it had nothing to do with the issue of gay marriage or gay rights. (She says her position is that states and churches have the right to decide how to handle such issues for themselves.) "It really is not about that question, it was about he put me in a position that was very awkward and very uncomfortable and we were late."

O'Donnell said she was getting the "wrap-it-up" signal off stage and realized she needed to be heading to her next stop, a meeting with a group of Republican women in Manhattan, no doubt a far friendlier audience.

She said that "very inappropriate, creepy line of questioning" would never have been directed at a man. When the interviewer pointed out that these were issues that O'Donnell had written about in her book -- "Trouble Maker" -- which was the very book that she was promoting on the show, O'Donnell said there was a keen distinction that was being overlooked.

O'Donnell said the book discusses the context of her positions on abstinence and masturbation, and comments she made while being interviewed back in the 1990s, "I addressed the questions [in the book] and I put it in context that, 'No, I would not do that interview again.'" Morgan, she said, took it one step beyond, and started making the queries personal -- and in the present tense, with questions that "[go] into a personal nature and start prying."

The same would never happen with a man, she said.

"Imagine if Bill Clinton were there," O'Donnell told the "Today Show." "Would he ask him, 'Do you still hang out with Monica Lewinsky? Come on, we talked about it in the '90s. Come on, do you still have that fascination with cigars, Bill?'"

While O'Donnell has accused Morgan of trying to garner ratings with his questions, she denied that she had book selling on her mind this week. She added: "Oh, please! I didn't even want to do the Piers Morgan show quite honestly because I knew that he resorts to these dirty tricks."

All that controversy aside, which is no doubt helping fuel book sales, O'Donnell said during the interview that she does not know if she will run for office again.

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--Rene Lynch

Photo: Former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell signs copies of her book "Trouble Maker" in Arlington, Va., on Thursday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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