It didn't take long, but the media has done the seemingly impossible. They have taken a story about a racist billionaire slumlord who made his coin off of denying the rights of minorities and turned it into a story about an unemployed black woman using her body to take away his freedom of speech, right to privacy and hard-earned business.
Reality be dammed. We don't need no stinkin' reality. Slut-shaming is so much easier than balance.
Mistress Illegally Recorded Rich White Guy
The first portrayal of Stiviano is that she illegally recorded the poor rich white guy in secret. This appears to be false.
Joe Kemp of the New York Daily News offers the first example:
The woman who secretly recorded the racist rants of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling — leading to his lifetime ban from the NBA — told reporters that she wanted to be President.This offers the most frequent allegation against Stiviano, that she secretly (and thus illegally) recorded the conversation. However, according to her lawyer, the recordings were made at Sterling's request.
Per an ESPN report by Ramona Shelburne it's not just Stiviano's word against his word either:
[Stiviano] told [NBA investigators] that Sterling knew he was being recorded and that they often taped conversations because Sterling, who sources say has been battling cancer in recent years, forgets things, and explained that part of her job was to help coach him on his image. On one of the tapes, a third person is heard in the background. The NBA also interviewed that third person before Silver made his ruling Tuesday, a fact that could be important later if the legality of the tapes is questioned.Stiviano's lawyer has said that the third person (who remains anonymous) confirms that Sterling was aware the conversation was recorded with his knowledge and this would seem to confirm that.
So it's not just her word against Sterling's word. It's, at worst, her's and the third party's word against Sterling. But even that's not the whole case.
Shelborurn also reveals that in the pending lawsuit against Stiviano by Shelly Sterling, Donald's wife, they requested those recordings, and all the others, be turned over, which sort of implies that they knew they existed.
Sterling lavished gifts on Stiviano over their four-year relationship, including a 2013 Range Rover, a 2012 Ferrari and two Bentleys. He paid her rent. He bought her jewelry. And, on March 7 of this year, Sterling's wife, Shelly Sterling, sued her to get it all back.So now it's her word, the third party's word and the fact that they actually already knew about the recordings against Sterling's word.
Stiviano lawyered up. Her attorneys filed a response to the civil suit, asking that the case be dismissed on April 21. Instead, Shelly Sterling's attorneys requested that Stiviano turn over all tapes and recordings made of herself and Sterling. The law compelled her to do so.
Four days later, the tapes surfaced publicly on TMZ.
Well except that it's not against Sterling's word either. Nowhere has he ever denied that he was aware that he was being recorded. Why let facts get in the way of a little slut-shaming though?
And, for the record Stiviano denies that she gave the tapes to TMZ. Per the AP, she thinks they were turned over by a friend, whom she had given a copy of the recordings for safekeeping.
The unbelievable thing about this is that the same media, which was so careful to call the recording "alleged" every time the subject came up, was ready to unequivocally state from the outset, without confirmation or even a modicum of research, that the recordings were obtained illegally.
The second shameful case of slut-shaming comes from Josh Peter of USA Today who describes Stiviano's high-school teacher, Javier Cid's recollections of her:
Javier Cid, longtime teacher at Roosevelt High, said V. Stiviano, then known as Vanessa Perez, was in his civics and economics class her senior year. He recalled her being smart, enthusiastic and mature — and for her nickname, Barbie.And:
Which kind of says a lot about her and who she wants to be,” Cid told USA TODAY Sports. “Barbie, someone that just wants to have the car, the house, the clothes, the designer stuff.’
She had very expensive tastes, which is not common for most students in this neighborhood,’’ said Cid, who said he has been teaching for 24 years at the school in East Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights.Because in the 24 years at the school, one student who had the same tastes as everyone else at the school came he could recall so vividly 15 years later? Or maybe it's just that he had a chance to sell a salacious story to the media.
Her younger sister wasn’t doing well in school,” Cid said. “I do remember when she did come and see me about her little sister she did mention something about, ‘Oh, yeah, well I drive a Range Rover now.’ I remember that very clearly. I said, ‘Good for you.’Because everyone who is proud of their nice car is a money-grubbing freeloading whore.
Also, I'm suspicious of the mention of the Range Rover. Sterling allegedly gave her a 2013 Range Rover and the conversation with the teacher occurred in 2007.
So either, the teacher or the writer was trying to falsely portray that as the gifted Range Rover, the teacher was lying, or Stiviano had gotten a different Range Rover on her own merit.
But when your slut-shaming, innuendo is all you need, not thought.
Cynthia Medina, a graduate of the class of 2000, said she did not know Stiviano directly but that other classmates with whom she has spoken this week recalled Stiviano being known as Barbie.Someone who didn't even know her in high-school 15 years ago is being cited as someone qualified to understand her present state of mind because she knew her high-school nickname?
So, based on the 15-year old sketchy memories of a high-school teacher's unexceptional student, a girl who didn't know her and a nickname, Stiviano has been plotting since high-school how she was going to milk millions of dollars from Sterling and trick him into recording a conversation that would cost him his business. Sounds about right.
The Conniving, Evil and Money Hungry Mistress
Then there's this treasure from the A.P.
For someone who loves to share photos of herself online, little is known about V. Stiviano other than that she is at the center of a scandal involving Clippers owner Donald Sterling.Yes, apparently everything about Stiviano has become something nefarious and vain, even the fact that she has an Instagram account.
The story also contributes to the perception that "the Sterling family" is suing Stiviano.
In March, Sterling's wife, Rochelle, sued Stiviano, claiming she had received more than $2.5 million in lavish gifts from the Clippers owner and they needed to be returned. A big piece of the suit involves a duplex Stiviano purchased in December for nearly $1.8 million with money that Rochelle Sterling claims Stiviano received from her husband. Stiviano's name appears on the deed, and Rochelle Sterling is asking a judge to transfer the property to her and her husband.Isn't this sweet? Rochelle is just looking out for her hubby! It's not a bitter estranged wife lashing out at his latest love interest! Well, maybe it is, but that doesn't work nearly as well with the slut-shaming narrative.
Anyone that saw the interview on 20/20 will tell you that Stiviano did not come across as the type of evil genius who can connive a lawyer who literally made millions by being litigious. She came across more as the exact opposite. A sincere person, but a bit of a 40-watt bulb in a 70-watt box.
The irony was that she was the only one who wanted to defend Sterling, telling Barbara Walters:
I think Mr. Sterling is from a different generation than I am. I think he was brought up to believe these things … segregation, whites and blacks. But through his actions he’s shown that he’s not a racist. He’s shown to be a very generous and kind man.The conversation also revealed that Stiviano had just been with Sterling (at one point Walters says so). That suggests that Stiviano's relationship with Sterling has not changed, which further implies that Sterling is not holding her responsible for anything.
Furthermore, Stiviano denies that the relationship is a sexual one.
Stiviano denied having a romantic relationship with Sterling, saying she is his personal assistant and sees Sterling as “a father figure” -- calling herself his "silly rabbit." She claims that people around Sterling would say negative things about her to him, saying they “poison his mind and heart about things about me,” which would drive him to say certain things.Again, this is not her word against his, per Jen Heger of Radar
Donald admits on audiotapes recorded by V., that the two have never had a sexual relationship,” a source told Radar. “It comes up several times…”The fact that both she and Sterling both deny they had a sexual relationship is something you can treat with incredulity, but that incredulity can't be treated as fact. Virtually everyone in the media refers to Stiviano as his girlfriend or mistress, and almost none stipulate that both parties in that alleged relationship don't characterize it as such.
It was more of a father-daughter relationship,” the source continued. “V. is extremely intelligent and beautiful, and Donald likes to be around attractive women. It boosts his ego. He is extremely insecure.
So, the narrative that she was an evil, money hungry mistress who tricked the billionaire white man out his hard earned money by illegally recording their private conversation and sharing it with the world only has every problem.
* The evil woman is the only one defending him and he still spends time with her.
* The money-hungry angle is established by people who either didn't know her or barely knew her 15 years ago.
* According to both Stiviano and Sterling, she wasn't his mistress, and their relationship is not sexual.
* It's pretty apparent she's incapable of "tricking" Sterling into anything.
* The recording wasn't made illegally.
* She didn't hand over the recordings.
The only thing wrong with the slut-shaming narrative is absolutely everything. But it's been characterized as absolute fact. One could argue that just because she says something doesn't make it fact.
But that she has a side is a fact, and the media ignoring those facts makes it biased reporting. And in this case that bias is outright slut-shaming.