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Now on TV: Round two of Trump’s sexual-misconduct battle

The October revolution, for that is what it was, started in print.

The New York Times and The New Yorker published damning stories about Harvey Weinstein's behaviour. Since then, numerous powerful men in entertainment, media and politics have been fired or stripped of their power.

Inevitably, as the revolution impacts the political arena, round two of the sexual-misconduct allegations against Donald Trump are now unfolding on TV, the medium he apparently absorbs with relish every day.

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It's been an eventful 24 hours on that battlefield and, while the accusations seemed to have had little negative impact on Trump in 2016, they are returning with a new velocity. The drama is uncanny in its twists and circularity with a detectable febrile quality.

This round began, surprisingly, with statements from Nikki Haley, Trump's appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. On CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday morning, Haley presented the White House position on North Korea's missile tests and the plan to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Then she was asked about recent occurrences of powerful men losing their jobs over sexual-harassment allegations.

"What do you think of this cultural moment that's happening?" was the exact question. The ambassador said, "I'm incredibly proud of the women who have come forward, I'm proud of their strength." She was then asked, "Given that consciousness, how do you think people should assess the accusers of the president?"

Haley answered without hesitation. "Well, I mean, you know, the same thing. Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with. And I think we heard them prior to the election and I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, well, they have every right to speak up."

This is utterly inconsistent with Trump's own position, which is that all the 16 women who have accused him of inappropriate behaviour are simply liars. "We should all be willing to listen to them," Haley said.

The next morning, Monday, three women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct spoke with Megyn Kelly on her portion of NBC's Today show. Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks spoke about what happened with Trump and the repercussions they've lived through since they first spoke out. What they described in their interactions with Trump was fiercely boorish, toxic male behaviour. It would get any man fired.

The context of all this is now mind-bogglingly fraught. It was Kelly who, at the first Republican presidential debate, in August, 2015, said to Trump, "You've called women you don't like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs' and 'disgusting animals...'" Trump fired back after the debate, saying of Kelly, "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."

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At the time, of course, Kelly was with Fox News, later the centre of sexual-misconduct allegations against Bill O'Reilly and the late Roger Ailes. Kelly has since said that Ailes harassed her.

After her initial bruising encounter with Trump at that debate, Kelly and Fox News were anxious to calm the waters. Kelly went on other outlets to state that neither she nor Fox News wanted "any sort of war" with Trump. Her major interview about the issue was with Charlie Rose – now disgraced and fired from CBS and PBS after sexual-misconduct allegations.

Further emphasizing the aberrant narrative arc that is now unfolding is the fact that Kelly now works for NBC News, taking up the last hour of the Today show, from which host Matt Lauer was so recently dumped after accusations of sexual misconduct.

In a revolution, everything is different. Patterns don't seem to match, logic has less force and "febrile" is the word to describe the mood. But the velocity is still there. Typical of TV, Kelly's interview with Trump's accusers was overshadowed by the bombing in New York City, as was the televised interview the same three women gave later to demand that the U.S. Congress investigate their claims.

But, watching it all, one couldn't help but feel that Kelly senses the velocity is the wind at her back. Long before the allegations of a Trump campaign collusion with Russia – and long before the firing of James Comey and the start of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, not to mention the allegations surrounding Roy Moore – Trump tangled boorishly on TV with Megyn Kelly. That may yet end up an important inciting incident in a revolution that's far from over and is now on TV.

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