Stephen Moore, one of President Trump's planned nominees for the Federal Reserve Board, wrote columns decrying the “feminization of basketball,” denouncing coed sports and arguing that women should be barred from refereeing or covering men’s basketball games — unless they are good-looking.
Moore also wrote that female athletes were seeking “equal pay for inferior work” and lamented, “Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women?”
The statements by Moore, made in columns he wrote for the conservative magazine National Review in the 2000s and resurfaced Monday by CNN, prompted a wave of criticism from women’s rights advocates.
“Donald Trump thinks he can populate the U.S. government the way he picks golf partners at Mar-a-Lago,” National Organization for Women President Toni Van Pelt said in a statement. “He surrounds himself with sycophants and ideologues who similarly embrace his sexism, misogyny and anger. Trump’s nominees do not need to be qualified — so long as they praise him, pledge slavish loyalty, and share his attitudes towards women.”
Also criticizing Moore on Monday was sportscaster Bonnie Bernstein, who Moore had once written “knows nothing about basketball” but “should wear a halter top.”
Trump announced last month that he was selecting Moore, his close ally, to fill an open seat on the Fed’s seven-person board. Another Trump nominee for the panel, Herman Cain, withdrew from consideration Monday. Cain, a former restaurant industry executive, had faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment as well as skepticism from some lawmakers regarding his qualifications to sit on the board of the central bank.
In an email Monday afternoon, Moore dismissed his previous statements about women in sports as having been made in jest.
“This was not a serious article,” Moore said. “It was a spoof piece — and it’s almost 20 years old. I don’t stand by any of those comments today.”
But Moore’s questionable remarks were made in several columns dating from 1998 to 2003. Moore did not respond when asked to which column he was referring and whether he could explain the fact that he made disparaging comments about women in more than one article.
The resurfacing of the columns is the latest debacle for Moore. Court documents show that Moore was also found in contempt of court in 2013 for failing to pay his ex-wife more than $330,000 in alimony and child support.
In one of his columns for National Review, Moore decried “the feminization of basketball generally” and wrote that it was an “obscenity” that a woman was allowed to referee a men’s NCAA game.
“Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women?” Moore wrote in the March 2002 piece. “What’s next? Women invited to bachelor parties? Women in combat? (Oh yeah, they’ve done that already.) Why can’t women ref [the] women’s games and men the men’s games.”
He went on to propose a “no women” rule for men’s college basketball games.
“No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything,” Moore wrote. “There is, of course, an exception to this rule. Women are permitted to participate, if and only if, they look like Bonnie Bernstein. The fact that Bonnie knows nothing about basketball is entirely irrelevant.”
He added that Bernstein “should wear a halter top. This is a no-brainer, CBS.”
Bernstein, who left CBS in 2006, tweeted a response to Moore on Monday afternoon: “You want halter tops? Hit the club scene. You want hoops knowledge? Try actually listening.”
CNN noted that Moore responded to criticism of his column at the time, writing, “Look, for all I care the women can use chimpanzees to ref their games. I hate women’s basketball.”
In another piece published in June 2000, Moore wrote that male athletes should get paid more than female athletes because men are more skilled than women at sports.
“The women tennis pros don’t really want equal pay for equal work,” he wrote. “They want equal pay for inferior work . . . Venus Williams is a multi-millionaire not in spite of the fact that she is a women, but precisely because she’s a woman. She receives much higher pay than an equally skilled man.”
Moore had previously argued that peewee soccer was “particularly insidious” because “boys and girls play together.”
“No one seems to care much that co-ed sports is doing irreparable harm to the psyche of America’s little boys. At this pre-puberty state of life girls tower over the boys and typically have greater coordination,” Moore wrote in the 1998 National Review column, titled “Soccer-Mom Hell.”
He also described a female kindergartner who “stampeded over” his son as “Secretariat in pigtails,” a reference to the Triple Crown-winning horse.
Several Democrats renewed their calls Monday for Trump not to nominate Moore in the wake of the CNN report and the withdrawal of Cain’s nomination.
“Mr. Moore, like Mr. Cain, poses a danger to the economic stability of our country,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “Mr. Cain clearly saw the writing on the wall and withdrew his name from consideration; hopefully Senate Republicans will again voice their deep concerns and force Mr. Moore to do the same.”
Heather Long contributed to this report.